“May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This prayer, also known as the “serenity prayer” is probably the secret to my own sense of calm and balance in the presence of storms. It is also the backbone behind my strength and the reason I am usually able to keep my sanity when the whole world seems to be going crazy.
A sense of equanimity is required more so today than ever before as many aspects of our lives seem out of control. Many of us are feeling quite helpless in the midst of the uncertainty and the chaos that is prevalent in our world right now. I know that you are trying your best to make sense of what is happening around you. To take care of yourself and your family in the best way that you know how.
Weathering the storm
It becomes easier to weather the storms in our life if we are able to accept that the changing weather conditions are an inevitable part of life. We need to learn to accept the fact that what we are facing right now in terms of our struggles, worry, anxiety due to a situation that is beyond our control is a function of our being alive and is in fact quite normal. If we can do this, we will find that we are able access our inner reserves and calm that is needed to deal with this situation.
Equanimity offers us the balance of steadiness and spaciousness in our hearts to cope with a painful situation in a much more effective way. Instead of resisting and trying to fight what we are facing right now, if you could make space in your heart to allow and recognise the difficult and painful thoughts and feelings as and when they arise without trying to change them, you will often find that you can weather the storms in your life without breaking or getting lost.
(I have written about certain aspects of this in my earlier post RESILIENCE – getting comfortable with uncertainty)
Everyone is on his or her own life journey
This also means that you realise that there are certain things which are beyond your control which include the behaviour and responses of the people that you love and care for- both family and friends. You have no control over what someone will do, say or how they will behave. No matter how much you would want to protect someone that you love from danger completely, you really can’t. All you can do is share the information, guide them in whichever way you can and then be there for them.
This is a difficult lesson indeed for most of us and I find this to be a lesson that I learn almost every day as a mother of two. It is really hard for me to accept that while I would like to protect my children from all the dangers in the world and make sure they are safe and happy at all times, I really cannot guarantee that. And it does not matter how much I love them.
All I can do is guide them, love them unconditionally and be there for them so that they do not feel lost or alone and know that they can reach out to me when they need my help.
everyone is on his or her own life journey.
I am not the cause of this person’s suffering,
nor is it entirely within my power to make it go away,
even though I wish I could
There are times when this relationship is difficult to bear,
yet I may still try to help if I can.
-Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff
Our external lives are in flux at the moment- living from one day to the next without knowing what the future holds for us and anticipating the worst.
What if you...
Realised that you have a CHOICE in how you respond to this situation beyond "social distancing, worry, anxiety"?
Could practice being more open to whatever shows up for you with a compassionate heart?
Had access to the part deep inside of you that is unmoved by the storms that are on the surface?
Would that not be wonderful?
I want to tell you today that it is certainly possible. And one of the ways that you can get in touch with your inner calm is with the help of a guided audio meditation "Pebble in the lake" (adapted from Jon Kabat Zinn). You can use this practice any time to cultivate equanimity in the midst of any kind of challenges. All of you need is a small pebble/stone and an open heart.