Chad Grayson

Equanimity (or, the subtle art of not losing your shit)

Water falls in time lapse photo credit: Travel Life

The last two weeks has been incredibly difficult. I had a lot going on anyway, but then my son moved in with me. That wasn’t a bad thing, but he’s nineteen. And on top of the usual 19-year-old nonsense, he’s been on and off his meds and has been yo-yo-ing through various stages of a mental health crisis and the whole things has just been exhausting.

Every day I do a guided meditation by a guy named Jeff Warren on the calm app, and one of the core concepts he teaches is that of equanimity. It is the goal of the meditation to achieve equanimity, and through the meditation, carry the concept through into our daily lives.  But what does Equanimity mean anyway?

My favorite definition is from the American Heritage dictionary.

              Evenness of mind or temper. Calmness or firmness, especially under conditions adapted to excite great emotion, a state of resistance to elation, depression, anger, etc.

Basically, equanimity is the ability to remain calm when your impulse is to completely lose your shit.  I have spent a great deal of my life completely losing my shit. I have add and Bipolar disorder (as does Jeff Warren) and I have lost a great deal of shit for reasons both great and small. But what meditation has taught me is to be a rock beneath the river, worn smooth, letting all things flow over me. The rock does not lose its shit.

So, how am I doing? TBH, not great. I have lost my shit with my son several times. And when I lose my shit, he loses his shit even more completely and then there’s a lot of shit all over the place. I am doing better at maintaining my equanimity, but this is definitely an area for growth.  I have maintained my equanimity in recent years mostly from maintaining my environment and my schedule. Now, I have somebody in my environment, and he keeps having emergencies making me have to alter my schedule. But I think I’m doing okay.

The first week after he moved in, the shock to my system was so great that I got no writing done. Last week, I decided I was done with that, and except for one day when I had food poisoning (not his fault he did not poison me it was a fruit smoothie) I met my daily 2000 word writing goal.

So, this week, I am determined to maintain my equanimity. It is the Holy Grail of mental health for someone with bipolar and adhd. And I do my best work when I am maintaining that balance. I was doing ok in this area, but what use is equanimity if it can only be maintained in ideal circumstances?

So, it’s probably good that he’s here. It is giving me an opportunity to test myself, and see if the personal growth I’ve undergone in the last three years is genuine or was just the result of not being challenged. So far, I’d give myself about a C+ in this area. Not failing, maybe just a hair above average, with lots of room for growth.   

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