I would use a Jay-Z quote in a Buddhist post, right? It’s a very relevant quote for this particular topic though. Hey, I gotta make these reflections relevant. But I digress…
I am, by nature, an extremely passionate person. As a result of this I feel everything to heightened levels. When I allow myself to get angry it’s usually a pretty big scene. When I fall in love, I fall hard. When I feel pleasure, it’s amazing. These occurrences are a large reason why I turned to Buddhism. I’ve long recognized that I teeter between extremes–there is no gray area with me. It either is or it ain’t. I’m either hot or cold. This way of functioning represents a complete lack of balance. It’s a roller coaster.
Meditation has helped even out my extremes to a certain extent. Now, it’s the opposite. I’ve been accused on more than one occasion of being nonchalant and uncaring. My calm demeanor has come across to others as indifference. Most of the things that upset others don’t phase me and the times I am affected I choose to handle the situation as skillfully as possible. Others have expressed to me that they feel as though I don’t care about an issue simply because of my lack of a reaction to it–that I don’t appear to understand the urgency or importance of it. I recently had a situation at work where one of my co-workers was upset over the lack of materials prepared for a presentation we were scheduled to deliver. I just stood calmly not saying anything as I watched her complain and stress herself out. Since our presentation wasn’t until the following week I told her that we would find a solution and revisit at that time. It the was the end of the day on a Friday so there wasn’t much we could do about it right then and I sure wasn’t going to spend my entire weekend worrying about something I couldn’t remedy for a few days. On top of that, the solution was quite simple and only required us coming in to the office thirty minutes early to make the necessary preparations. Easy right? Well it was to me at least. it certainly not worth the stress and complaints.
The above example is called equanimity. Equanimity is defined as evenness of mind, especially under stress. The concept is an important part of Buddhism because it allows us not to get attached to our thoughts or emotions and it keeps us in the best place to remain mindful. When we are mindful is when we are most skillful–we are in the best position to make the best decisions. It’s the state of mind that all meditators strive to achieve.
My practice has helped me cultivate equanimity, more often than not. What’s interesting is how others sometimes react negatively to my calmness. I guess what it is is that when others are upset they want everyone around them to be in the same state of mind. It’s extremely natural for us to project onto others. But I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t allow others to dictate how I feel. My Buddhist practice has made me a lot less reactionary which in turn upsets people sometimes.
But at the end of the day what bothers someone else has no bearing on me. Like Jay-Z so wisely stated, what YOU eat doesn’t make ME shit. A crude quote possibly but it states the point very well. There is liberation in non attachment. Freedom in the ability to remain calm in the midst of chaos and not allow others to control your feelings.