In thinking about essays on the practice of Savasana this week, I had written the words, “equanimity in difficult times”. Nothing more than that, just the phrase. As I was thinking about this topic I googled the phrase and found a wonderful article. (The link is at the bottom of the essay and I recommend reading it in its entirety.)
Here are some of the lines that stood out for me.
“Equanimity enables us to remain alert for danger while calm – and level-headed in the midst of emergency – all on an even keel.” It seems to me that this is also a great definition for the kind of leader we all want and, now, need. We need leaders who find the middle ground between panic and withdrawal. We need leaders who can take a deep breath in the midst of a difficult conversation or a difficult time and help us get through it.
“Equanimity doesn’t mean indifference. Mindful equanimity is grounded in caring. When I’m open-hearted and present with the suffering within and around me, then I can engage in meaningful compassionate action.” In a yoga class, Savasana isn’t actually a nap or a disengagement from the world. Rather it is a practice of being alert and aware while being relaxed and able to let thoughts drift on by instead of being captured by them. Leading in a calm way doesn’t mean I don’t care, it means I am able to respond appropriately and with care to situations as they arise. And it means I let things go when it is time and move to the next task rather than staying stuck in the past.
“Equanimity means inclusivity. It’s interesting to note how this isn’t an epidemic we’re living through but a pandemic. The Greek roots of the word pandemic mean ‘pertaining to all people; public, common.’ It’s vital we not let this pandemic fracture or fragment our commonality.” I love this reminder. Equanimity encompasses the full range of experiences – pain and joy at the same time, fear of and hope for the future. Equanimity is the practice of balancing all that comes at us, both the good and the bad. This is when we begin to understand that the practice of yoga is not merely a class to help us stretch and the practice of leadership is not merely a set of actions aimed at getting a group of people to accomplish a task together.
In a yoga class, we end where we begin, with our breath. The focus on our breath, the ability to relax in Savasana helps us learn the balance of equanimity in all we do.