Day 1: Unshakeable Balance of Mind
Understanding impermanence is one of the central tenets of Buddhism and mindfulness. Through regular meditation and awareness of our moment-to-moment experience, we start to see how our thoughts, emotions, surroundings, and ultimately, our lives, are always changing and at some point, will come to an end. This reality can be harsh, but also beautiful and freeing. Mindful balance and equanimity allow us to free ourselves from attachments and avoid getting caught up in all of these changes. The purpose of today's exploration is to develop the ability to find your inner stability and balance in the midst of it all.
After your meditation (Know Your Mind), remember to take a few minutes to reflect and discover insights (Disrupt Your Defaults). Then, choose one action to commit to for today (Take Action).
Know Your Mind
Open Awareness With Stability
Before meditation, check in with the quality of your mind right now. This meditation will help you in developing an unshakeable balance of the mind.
Disrupt Your Defaults
Through this practice, could you see your own stable, unchanging quality of awareness?
What does it feel like to have this balance in your mind?
What causes you to lose balance and equanimity in your life?
By developing this unshakeable quality of the mind, you can come closer to accepting that the things around you are going to keep changing. This quality will also help you prevent your thoughts from spiraling out of control.
Today, when you're feeling out of balance or experiencing a strong emotion, whether it's disappointment or excitement, remember to take a few mindful breaths, return to that unshakeable quality of the mind, and choose your actions from that place of stability.
If it's helpful, you can use the phrases below to see things clearly and act without resisting or grasping:
- "Anything can happen any time.”
- “This is the way things are right now.”
- “My happiness is not dependent upon external events.”
Take the following as a simplified example of the above process: say you find yourself at the airport - you've checked in, you're waiting at your gate, and your flight is scheduled to take off in an hour. The big meeting you're supposed to go to at your destination starts only two hours after you land - assuming you land on time. Moments before boarding, they announce that your flight has been delayed because of a mechanical issue and they're unsure how long it will take to fix it.
As you hear this, you immediately tense up, your heart starts to race, and you get angry. Frantic thoughts start to circulate through your mind: "How could this happen? What a stupid airline! Of course this is happening to me. I'm going to miss the meeting! My boss will be so mad! I'm going to let everyone down." Of course, with all of your mindfulness training, your awareness allows you to quickly notice these thoughts. With a few breaths, you regain a sense of inner calm. Eventually, however, your mind goes back to thinking of the worst possible outcome: the plane gets delayed for three hours and you miss the meeting. Again, you find yourself pacing around, having returned to the pattern of frustrated and frantic thinking.
You realize that doing a quick Awareness With Stability meditation may help you handle this situation with equanimity. As you meditate, you slow your mind and begin to gently bring your attention to your breath, the sensations in the body, the sounds around you, and any thoughts that are arising. With this spacious and stable awareness, you are reminded of how your experience is always changing and how even these intense moments are impermanent. After meditating, you find yourself more stable and connected with your sense of resilience and unshakeable balance.
Upon further reflection, you discover how empowering it feels to experience this quality of stability in the midst of these circumstances. Instead of getting caught up in the negative thoughts, you can see more clearly now and call upon the other mindfulness skills, such as self-compassion, to see that this is not your fault and your colleagues will not be upset with you for this. You use curiosity to look for other possibilities: what if there are other flights you could take? If you take another flight, would this airline give you a refund for their mistake? Can you Skype into the meeting if there's no way to make it there on time?
Equanimity allows you to remain unshaken by your circumstances and to act skillfully. With the right balance, you can skip past the frustration and panic stage and go right to seeing which of the other mindfulness qualities will be most helpful for you in any situation. Regardless of the outcome of your mindful contemplation and action, at least you can know that you remained centered and skillful in the way you handled your situation.