One of the question themes explored in Questions and Answers was about maintaining equanimity in the midst of social injustice, the climate crisis, etc.
Jill reiterated that equanimity is not about making us immune to the visceral responses that may arise. She says “We want to keep our aliveness, our humanness, our responsiveness, and use the support of wisdom and the Brahma Viharas so that it’s not to our detriment. At times a visceral response is the natural human appropriate response.”
And to help us not fall into despair, we need not only equanimity but also kindness, compassion, and joy.
With self-compassion, we can attune to our own cries, to know when we need to stop doom-scrolling and replenish.
We may need to orient to what is going well to counter the mind’s negativity bias – remembering the inspiring people who are making a difference. We can also attune to our own strengths and good qualities.
Jill’s advice is to do what we can do in this moment that can alleviate the negative energy.
In June 2020, I participated in an online daylong retreat with Susie Harrington and Kirsten Rudestam called “From Compassion to Action: a day of meditation and wise response.” I was slightly star-struck when I was in a breakout room with James Baraz. A phrase he shared in that session was, “Action absorbs anxiety.” That was a useful reminder for me, as I find myself sometimes stuck in a loop of overwhelm, uncertainty, outrage, etc. So how can I allow that to be and yet skillfully and wisely respond?
Some of my other scratchings from that day (not sure who said them):
“Trust that the dharma can use us.”
“Love is all the way through to the core of use – live and act from a place of love. If you come from a place of love, it’s contagious.”
“We can’t bypass pain, but we don’t want to get stuck there.”
“Notice how good it feels to care and express that care.”
James recently led a meditation and talk on equanimity for Sangha Live, which you can watch or listen to here:
How do you bring the heart of equanimity and wisdom to the challenges in your life and in the world?
With good wishes,