“Recognizing the power of our minds means that even as unfortunate or terrible things happen to us, we can receive them in a more spacious and ultimately more enlightened way. The Budda taught his students to develop a power of love so strong that the mind becomes like space that cannot be tainted. If someone throws paint, it is not the air that will change color. Space will not hold the paint; it will not grasp it in any way. Only the walls, the barriers to space, can be affected by the paint.”
quoted from Lovingkindness (page 122) by Sharon Salzberg
Sharing a quote from Sharon Salzberg’s book, “Lovingkindness”, reflecting on the gift of equanimity.
To have the radiant calm and unswayed balance of mind that we call equanimity is to be like the earth. All kinds of things are cast upon the earth: beautiful and ugly things, frightful and lovable things, common and extraordinary things. The earth receives it all and quietly sustains its own integrity.
It is a state of peace to be able to accept things as they are. This is to be at home in our own lives. We see that this universe is much too big to hold on to, but it is the perfect size for letting go. Our hearts and minds can become that big, and we can actually let go. This is the gift of equanimity.
Nature has many ways of showing us how to we might choose to respond to such things in our day to day life. Things like our emotions or other peoples, a change, different opinions or ways of doing something, obstacles we might face etc. Sometimes when we watch moving water, like the flow of a river, we can see how it meets a rock or boulder in its path. Does it resist? Try to change the boulder? Push at it? The water flows around it, this “obstacle” that is harder and denser than it is. The water stays in its flow and is hardly impeded or slowed down as it moves around the obstacle and continues on its path.
As humans we can find ourselves resisting an obstacle. We might get stopped in our tracks by a situation thinking we need go over it or through it, change it or be stopped. But what if we let the obstacle or “boulder ” stay where it is and just go around it? Even dealing with other people an obstacle might feel like a difference of opinion. What if we chose to let it go, and kindly flow around it? Allowing that there are many things we might see as obstacles or that get in our way, how we approach it may be the difference between getting wound up and feeling relaxed enough to better assess the situation. What if we breathed through that feeling, instead of getting stuck, angry, confused or overwhelmed? We could take a breathe, relax our body, and choose to go with our own flow, focusing on what needs to be done in a positive direction, letting go of the habit perhaps, to resist, fight or get sidetracked?
If we are flowing towards something positive we seek, or just living our daily life, we focus our energy on what we want more of rather than the obstacle. And when we can act like water, maybe that can help release the power of the obstacle for us.
“Put yourself in situations where you thrive.”
What a lovely mantra, or check-in for oneself to take stock, especially in confusing times. The word to thrive means to flourish or to grow vigorously. We want our plants to thrive. Have we been thinking of thriving in terms of ourselves, our children, the situations we find ourselves? What would thriving feel like? Look like? Do we thrive in certain landscapes or geographies or settings more so than others?
Thriving sounds like it has energy, that the feeling and signs of thriving would be unmistakeable. Why not ask oneself in a time of doubt or confusion, “Am I thriving right now? Do I want to? What do I need to do to thrive?”
Maybe we are thriving and hadn’t thought in those terms before. Maybe with a slight tweak or the confidence to make a change we could be thriving. Or we now will be on the lookout for situations where we can thrive and make choosing that a priority.