This week I’m wrapping up a deep retreat where I’m workshopping some ideas for the next Adventure Mastermind, so we’re doing a replay….
You might be challenged with this as well, especially as we try to keep our cool during all the craziness of the Holidays this time of year
Mindfulness helps us cultivate a sense of equanimity because we practice being with reality – with what is happening in the present moment – without judgment.
Equanimity is a quality of presence that is open, balanced, and non-reactive, and when we suspend judgment, we are less likely to get hooked – as Pema Chodron says – by our default emotional and thought habits.
Now I want to mention here that equanimity does not mean indifference. Indifference is based on fear, and true equanimity is not a withdrawal from life. It is a balanced engagement with ALL aspects of life. It embraces the loved and unloved. The agreeable and disagreeable. The pleasant and unpleasant.
When we embrace that everything will change and that the world of conditioned phenomena is insubstantial, we are able to be fully present and in harmony with it instead of resisting it or getting overly attached to it. That’s equanimity.
When we don’t have equanimity, it’s like we’re in a trance and run by our habitual patterns of moving towards what we’re attracted to and running from things that we have an aversion to. Which – let’s face it – gets exhausting over time.
But if we’re present in it, we’re less likely to react to things that activate us, and instead are more free to creatively respond. We’re able to access our wise mind and respond to life with compassion, loving kindness, and forgiveness.
And yes – we open ourselves up to joy and pain because we aren’t trying to resist reality. But that experience is more authentic and allows for true connection with ourselves and others.
Now, the inevitability of suffering is talked about in the first Noble Truth of Buddhism: the nature of existence includes suffering. It’s really hard to embrace this, right? And sure, it could be a bummer. But it’s so essential to understand that suffering is part of the human experience AND that it has a path to decrease it. Why?
The whole purpose of Buddhist psychology, its ethics (or sila), philosophy, practices, and ways of living in community, is the discovery that freedom and straight up joy are possible, even in the face of the (inevitable) suffering we experience as humans.
Now, while suffering is inevitable, we add on a whole lot of unnecessary suffering on top of the suffering that’s just part of life.
Unnecessary suffering is caused by our reaction to the inevitable pain of life. It arises from grasping, from attachments to what we want and how we want the world to be and aversion to the things we don’t want.
Our personal pain can include anxiety, depression, fear, confusion, grief, anger, addiction… but it’s not just personal. Our collective pain grows from human greed, hatred, and ignorance, creating things we see all around us: warfare and racism, the isolation and torture of prisoners, fueling unnecessary hunger, sickenedd, and abandonment of humans all over the world.
That First Noble Truth is what we are working on understanding and transforming when we try not to resist reality. The Second Noble Truth helps us understand how the grasping or attachment worsens the inevitable suffering of the human experience.
Grasping (attachment to things needing to be a certain way) leads us to also having an aversion towards some things, and even delusion – incorrect views of what’s going on, of existence.
Then we get all messed up and start to experience that unnecessary pain: anger, anxiety, buffering/addiction, jealousy…
The Third Noble Truth gives us some tips for how to end that grasping. ***Freedom from pain is possible when we let go of our need for things to be different than they are.***
This, my friends, is nirvana. Think of it as letting go of the need for things to be different than what they are and therefore letting go of our fear and grasping.
Finally, the Fourth Noble Truth is the path to the end of suffering. Some people know it as the middle way, which helps us, amidst the pain of the world and of ourselves and others, to experience peace wherever we are, here and now.
When we don’t grasp at or resist life as it is, we can find wakefulness and freedom – equanimity – in the midst of our joys and our sorrows. Following the middle path, we establish integrity, learn to quiet the mind, and learn to see with wisdom.
These Four Noble Truths insist we face our pain. They teach us to stop running away. Because only by courageously opening to the sorrow of the world as it is can we find our freedom.
Of course, Western psychology also thoroughly acknowledges pain and suffering. But in certain ways, it asks us to simply resign and accept what Buddhism calls that unnecessary pain, or “second arrow.” But a philosophical or psychological acceptance of normal unhappiness is a poor place to end the story, if you ask me.
The Four Noble Truths promise much more. They are a complete and systematic set of psychological principles and teachings that we can use to end the causes of that pai, and through their understanding we can realize freedom.
In this Episode you’ll learn:
// Why meditation is important in creating equanimity
// The difference between equanimity and indifference.
// The 4 Noble Truths
// The difference between pain & suffering
// How to free ourselves from unnecessary pain
// The real meaning of nirvana
// Where Western psychology falls short
// Episode 60: How to Avoid Unnecessary Suffering
// Episode 63: Being Human is Hard – The First Noble Truth
// If you want to start integrating all of you into this one precious life we have, apply for the Adventure Mastermind. It’s Soul Work. Deep work. Important, necessary, and essential to what the world needs right now. Be a part of it.
If you’re remotely curious, apply. It will help you get clear, and then we can chat to see if it’s actually a good fit. Trust me – it’s an intense 6 months so I am just as invested as you are in making sure it’s an amazing match. Head over to AdventureMastermind.com and apply for the Summer cohort. We have 2 altered states retreats, weekly coaching, virtual retreats, and more. I’ve got you!
// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist FB group, and tune in weekly when I go live on new topics.
// Want to dive into this work on a deeper level on your own time? To study it and practice it together with a group of people with the same goals of freedom, adventure and purpose? Check out Freedom School – the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out.
It’s also where you can get individual help applying the concepts to your own life. It’s where you can learn new coaching tools not shared on the podcast that will blow your mind even more, and it’s where you can connect over all things freedom with other freedom junkies just like you and me. It’s my favorite place on earth and it will change your life, I guarantee it. Come join us at JoinFreedomSchool.com. I can’t wait to see you there.