Meeting The Change in Seasons with Equanimity
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By Amanda Gilbert
Fall is my favorite time of the year. There is something about the slow letting go of the lush colored foliage and long ripe nights of summer that equally inspires an internal slowing down within me to feel the transition at hand.
Some years, I meet fall with more of a celebration of harvest, delicious pear and apple pickings, and the endearing excitement of seeing the black oak acorns covering the golden turning Topanga ground beneath my feet. While other years when fall arrives I feel thrown into the state change abruptly, wishing summer was not ending and feeling uncertain about meeting the natural cycles of death and rebirth that are right around the calendar corner with winter.
For this reason, I often revere the inherent unpredictability and uncertainty that fall brings to me. Because it gives the great opportunity to take a look at how my inner-equanimity is doing during any given year, by asking the pivotal question: how am I meeting change right now? Am I welcoming this transition from known to new while seeing it clearly? Or am I feeling decentered and disoriented by this change? Or, even resistant to change?
One of the most helpful ways I have found to approach this seasonal question is by bringing my mindfulness practice to it. And, by focusing on the direct cultivation of equanimity. Especially if the recent inner questioning had brought about the response that more grounding and adaptability amidst change is presently required.
In my recent book, Kindness Now, an entire section is solely devoted to the practice and deeper understanding of equanimity. Depending on the translation from Pali or Sanskrit (the languages ancient Buddhist texts were written in) the word symbolizing “equanimity” is transcribed as “balance” or “evenness” – particularly an internal state of evenness known as an evenness of mind and heart in the midst of life’s endless ups and downs, pulling toward and pushing away, liking and disliking, wanting, and wishing away.
Equanimity centers us in the reality of things exactly as they are. It gives us the skillful means to see our own hearts and minds clearly so we can ultimately be in authentic alignment with exactly where we are internally.
This way of thinking about equanimity has always been helpful to me as feeling equanimous reminds me a lot of that feeling when I know I am in the full expression of my authenticity. Which helps me navigate change with a little more of a reliable and familiar rudder and compass.
To get in touch with equanimity, we wonderfully don’t have to reach too far outside of our basic mindfulness practice of training our minds to live, be and stay in the present moment. Equanimity is both a natural byproduct of a mindfulness practice and a quality we can intentionally develop and work with.
One of my go-to practices for tapping into equanimity and the direct cultivation of it is by placing my full undivided attention upon the natural sensations of my breath as it moves through the landscape of my body. This ancient practice of breath awareness lets me feel both the consistency of trustworthy balance and the fluidity of constant change and impermanence. Even though the breath is automatic and reliable as long as you are alive, you will never breathe the same breath twice. It is impossible to do so.
Feeling balanced and even in the midst of change will help with the inevitable seasons and transitions we all go through as human beings. We will all meet our own glory and heat filled passionate summers. We will all be embraced or swept up in the abruptness of Fall’s winking transition that the quiet solitude and restoration of winter is on the way. We will all be met with that particular type of cold loneliness and longing for warmer and better days baked into the dead of winter. And we will also feel the sweet relief of rebirth and the fresh exciting whispers of promised new beginnings and paths to take.
Since September is upon us once again, perhaps spend a moment asking yourself these same timely questions of how it is you are meeting change during this season compared to the last. Is there room for more graciousness and authentic alignment? Could the harvesting of even more equanimity be fruitful and beneficial? And, depending on the honest response to these gentle nudging questions, notice if it would be helpful for you too, to spend some time cultivating equanimity and balance by taking it one breath at a time.
To read more about equanimity and to find further practices on the cultivation of it, click here for Amanda’s new book
Amanda Gilbert is a meditation teacher, speaker, lecturer of mindfulness at the University of Southern California and author. She has been a meditator for over seventeen years and now leads meditation for top companies like NBC, Paramount Pictures, W Hotels, Merrill Lynch, Macy’s, and YouTube.