Life, Universe, Writing

What is Equanimity?

There’s been a word that has been in my path the past week: equanimity. Have you ever heard of it before?



I’ve seen this word in two of the books I’ve been reading lately. Then I found the word in an article I linked to from a blog I regularly read. And I saw the word in my Instagram feed the other day. Does the universe want to tell me something? Or does it want me to tell you something?

Equanimity is full of love. It is a face of love. What’s unique about equanimity is that it helps balance the other three aspects of love so that we don’t burn out in our caring, in expressing the other aspects of love to others. It keeps us grounded. Without equanimity, our compassion can become compassion fatigue; we can outpour to an extent that we become exhausted or overly identified with the situation. Equanimity can help keep us resourced and in our center.” – Karah Jewel Lingo

The phrase “compassion fatigue” really spoke to me. It’s so easy to get caught up in my own pain, the daily suffering in the world, and the suffering in our own lives. Sometimes I feel like I’m pouring from an empty cup. Does it feel that way to you, too?



So many of my classmates have died in the last four years that I felt like I couldn’t hear about another one. When I would look at my Twitter feed and see that there has been another school shooting, I felt helpless. When I would see a screen shot of a hateful anti-gay post from someone I know on social media, I would get so angry I didn’t know how to cope with it.

“Equanimity means being with pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, in such a way that our hearts are fully open and also whole, intact. We can recognize what is true, even if painful, and also know peace. Equanimity doesn’t mean we have no feeling about anything; it’s not a state of blankness. Instead, it is the spaciousness that can relate to any feeling, any occurrence, any arising, and still be free.” – Sharon Salzberg

But since I learned about mindfulness, I could let a death or something truly horrible pass through me when I learned about it. I would go inside myself for safety and just be. It seemed like a miracle cure. DOES ANYONE ELSE KNOW ABOUT THIS?

I now realize I was practicing equanimity. But until recently, I had no idea it had a name.

Not every day will be a good day. There will be sadness, death, and people who are hateful. What I don’t need to do is take on everything. I cannot bear the weight of the entire planet on my shoulders.




Non-resistance is another part of equanimity. Basically accepting life as it comes and not forcing things. Take traffic as an example.

I used to get very angry when I was driving and ended up stuck behind a slow car. Most of the time, I would pass that car and keep going. Now, I just follow the slow car to get where I need to go. I don’t force things, because I think the car in front of me is there for a reason. Maybe there’s a crash coming up that this car is protecting me from. Who can say? I just let life happen instead.

This can also be useful if you’re stuck in a long line. If you lack patience, perhaps you should let your life flow a little more freely. Perhaps the line was placed in front of you for a reason?



I used to be really impatient and irritable. I used to be quite sensitive to criticism. I had the impression that I had complete control over everything in my bubble. I evolved into a totally different person after learning that I couldn’t.

I feel like the word equanimity has appeared to me three times in the last week to tell you about it. What you choose to do with it is up to you.



Here are some helpful articles:

How Equanimity Powers Love – Lion’s Roar

Calm in the Midst of Chaos – Lion’s Roar

The Power Of Equanimity — Ten Percent Happier

4 Simple Ways to Replace Hostility With Equanimity | Psychology Today

This video is 45 minutes long, but I love Tara Brach and think it’s worth your time to listen to her.


And this is lovely, even though it has nothing to do with the topic at hand:


Have you ever heard of equanimity? Do you practice it in your life?

42 thoughts on “What is Equanimity?”

  1. It’s a word I’ve known, but not thought much about. I have noticed a similar calming in myself, with respect to lines and traffic and acceptance of all kinds of things. I mean, I’m a work in progress. Sometimes I am surprised by the rage that comes out in me while I’m driving. I now take that as a signal to look at what I’m mad about that I’m suppressing/not dealing with. In recent years, there have been so many things in the world (larger and personal) to be angry/sad about. Well, there always have been; I’ve just become more aware of them. I’ve had to develop some equanimity to be able to function at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s word I’ve seen, but I didn’t know its full definition, so thank you for that. Im not certain if I practice it. What I do know is that I can no longer watch the news, for my own mental health. I have an unbiased publication with news stories sent to my email everyday. So, I’m able to stay sane without being ignorant about current events.

    And as a lifelong impatient person, I am finally finding some patience in my later middle years. And boy, who knew how relaxing it could be?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m still not sure I completely understand it, but that could be because of the menopause.:)

      There was a triple homicide in my generally quiet neighborhood today. It has been a very big test of equanimity. I choose to think about the first responders in my village and surround them with light and love because of what they’ve witnessed and had to come to terms with.

      Patience is a lovely thing to stumble upon, isn’t it??

      Like

  3. I have come across the quote “This, my dear, is the greatest challenge of being alive: To witness the injustice of this world, and not allow it to consume our light.” only a few weeks ago, and since then I’ve been trying to figure it out myself. Do you agree with it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just found the quote on Sunday, when I was trying to figure out how to explain equanimity to others. 

      Yesterday, there was a tragic incident that took place only a few blocks from from where we live. When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t help but think about the people who live neighboring the house where the incident took place. When I got up, I bathed those neighbors in light and love; it’s likely that they don’t feel it, but it’s just as likely that they do.

      If we allow these events to consume our light, we will no longer be able to be the light for others.

      To me, this is what the quote is trying to say.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is a wonderfully giving interpretation! I started to read a book called Factfulness recently. The book was published in 2018. The author shares how most of us live under the impression that things are getting worse. He presents a lot of data, and in a very upbeat way brings up a cohesive story as to why that is. When I first read the quote, it reminded me of the book, and the challenge in not letting the bad news overwhelm one.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh man, I’m putting that book on my list of things to read.

        Even our news is only about bad things. They don’t focus on the good things happening in the world.  The only good part is at the end of the program. If you really pay attention, you’ll see this on both local and national news. Why do people find bad news so intriguing?

        Like

  4. Compassion fatigue, I’m in the throes of that. I strive for balance, but there are days when I cannot comprehend the stupidity of idiots who seem to surround me. But then I take a deep breath, remember the saying “energy flows where attention goes” AND regain my equanimity. I shall focus on solutions, dammit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a powerful word. Yes, I’ve heard it but not sure I really fully grasped it. I like how it is synonymous with balance. That is a good word too.

    Over the last few years, I think the world has taught me to ve more patient and to appreciate more. Thanks for shedding light on this word. It is interesting that it kept popping up in your path.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I do practice equanimity. I feel pretty balanced most of the time. With regards to all the sad/ horrible/ tragic things in the world: compassion fatigue is a real thing but I always try to think of that story about the kid throwing the starfish on the beach back into the ocean. The punchline (punchline? That’s not right. But you know what I mean) is that they can’t save every starfish, but they can save that starfish. We can make a difference to individual starfishes, even if we can’t make a difference to ALL starfish.

    I’m pretty patient in traffic; often if someone passes me in a rush I will see that person at the light beside me. So, the moral of that story is that the person angrily passing me is angry for no reason, because we have ended at the same place in the same time. HOWEVER I get pretty agitated when I’m dropping the kids at school and people are parked in the bus zone and then the traffic snakes into the intersection and the light turns red…but that’s something I need to work on, not getting upset when PEOPLE DRIVE IN AN ILLEGAL AND DANGEROUS FASHION AROUND A SCHOOL. *deep breath* *ommm*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that analogy!

      Let me tell you, since I wrote this post, the Universe has been putting me to the test every day. Every slow car in the Chicago area has pulled out in front of me, and I have laughed so hard and said out loud, “JOKES. YOU GOT JOKES.”

      Dropping off kids at school doesn’t count in this case. Even the Universe agrees with us that those people drive like idiots. 😂

      Like

  7. Horses and cats taught me patience with others at an early age but internal patience…. Lately it is a struggle. I’m not sure how to achieve equanimity with internal health thingies (sorry 2b vague but Hi Entire Internet! :-). But it is wild to read this post at a time when I really needed it. I will read it again and ponder because I feel like this is exactly what I needed to hear right now. The best stuff comes your way Kari and lucky for me you listen, think and share!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Animals can teach us so much.
      I’m sorry you’re having health problems, but I totally get why you need to be vague. I’m paying more attention to what my gut tells me about what I should post. I didn’t know how to listen to it for most of my life. So please be patient with me while I figure it out, LOL. Mike and I watched a documentary about Robin Williams’s life and death last week. In one of his books, he wrote, “I want to help people be less afraid.” THAT.
      I’m so glad you got this when you needed it, my friend. So much love coming your way. ❤️

      Like

  8. Hi Karen/Kari (unsure which one you prefer – saw “Kari” on your book?) An exceptionally thought-provoking, informative and moving post. I especially like Sharon Salzberg’s description. My husband and I quote Wayne Dyer around our home, almost daily. I listened to a short part of Tara Brach’s video and I bookmarked to listen to all of it.

    You remind me of many concepts: acceptance…”let your life flow a little more freely,” compartmentalizing…my anxiety and concerns, mindfulness, and now equanimity. I am always a work in progress, at times managing challenges, and at other times, thriving. Thank you for sharing an excellent post. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My name is Kari, but thank you for checking. It’s interesting you brought up Wayne Dyer; I’m currently reading his first book. I heard a quotation of his circulating about a few weeks ago and immediately knew I wanted to read his books. ❤️

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. It’s wonderful to have yet another new blog to read! Xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Kari, Ironically, there is a lady on Instagram that looks very similar to you (when I rechecked, you could be sisters) and her name is Karen. Therefore, I thought you may go by both names. I did read about “Grace.”

        I became a fan of Wayne Dyer many years ago via PBS, Oprah, his books and I adopted his planning system over 30 years ago “Franklin Planner” for helping organize and set daily and life priorities…….still a work in progress, yet I try.😊

        I have pressed pause on blogging this year for a number of personal reasons. I do want to continue my blog. I often visit and read posts and you are an exceptionally interesting person, Kari. I am happy our paths crossed and I look forward to staying connected.😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s awesome! So many people have told me that they know someone who looks like me. I must have a familiar face. 🙂

        I’m enjoying his current book so much that I’ve put his next book to my TBR list (to the top of the list, of course). LOL

        Many bloggers I know have done the same thing. But I’m grateful we’ve been able to connect through blogging. Xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes I’ve heard the word and yes I try to practice it, akin to mindfulness and to balance as was stated by you and others in this thread. All you can do is all you can do, in your own mind, soul, heart, spirit, body, etc.. You can’t give more than you have to give. Some must be kept for you and your peace, health, happiness, etc. You know, if Mama ain’t happy, or at least at low level functional, ain’t nobody happy or the family functional!

    Liked by 1 person

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