Archives for the month of: November, 2016


I always thought equanimity meant finding a balance – somewhat analogous to the way the body achieves homeostasis. My parents frequently cited a saw from their parents’ generation they felt was a key to equanimity, “everything in moderation.”

Another word that comes to mind is calm. For Christians, “the peace of God that passes all understanding” describes an inner tranquility from a divine source that exists as the eye in life’s storms.

For Buddhists, the sources of suffering stem from our attachments and our aversions. Until now I understood the balancing act to involve distancing ourselves from those things that elicit in us too much desire or revulsion. However, this week I found another meaning while reading David Whyte’s book, The Three Marriages.

In the Buddhist tradition the ability to be happy is often translated into English as “equanimity,” roughly meaning to be equal to things, to be large enough for the drama in which we find ourselves. (p. 32)

This opened me to a new appreciation for what it means to face into those things that most trouble us.

The election has revealed the extent to which our national body is out of balance. One step in regaining equilibrium might be for each of us to sit with these questions and open ourselves to the answers that surface:

Can we summon the better angels in us to let go of some outcomes to which we are attached and open ourselves to greet new possibilities in our current drama?

How can we be large enough to turn our individual and collective bodies toward healing and homeostasis?

What does it require of each of us to be equal to these things?



What is the difficult conversation you are avoiding and with whom – partner? friend? boss? self? No doubt, it wouldn’t be difficult if it didn’t matter, and you are postponing it because you want to get it right.

A recent trip to the dentist yielded a lot more than a new crown. He and I frequently converse before and after he attends to my teeth. In our most recent exchange we shared our mutual aversion with the current polarization in our country. As I left, he handed me a summary of a model based on the book Crucial Conversations.  

Crucial conversations are those where stakes are high, opinions vary and emotions run strong. The key to handling them is to achieve and maintain dialogue. The hand out he gave me captured several key principles for guiding dialogue, but the following seem most applicable for the length of this post.

  • Be honest and clear about what you really want as a result of the conversation.
  • Help create and maintain a safe container for discourse. One tool in assessing safety is to be mindful of forms of silence (e.g. withdrawing or withholding meaning by understating or selectively sharing true opinions) and forms of violence (e.g. coercing the other to adopt your perspective and stereotyping something to dismiss it).
  • Listen actively to each other’s “stories” and explore with genuine curiosity each narrative without blame or judgment. (e.g. “I wonder what that is all about?”). Revise the narratives as appropriate.
  • Create a path of action forward based on mutually beneficial outcomes with specific benchmarks for accountability.

While there is a lot more to respectful dialogue than space here allows (click here for an outline of the book), we need not use that as an excuse for delaying important conversations.