“If you can keep your head when all about you are loosing theirs…”
Facetious. Did you know it uses each vowel once and they are all in order? For that alone it has to be one of my favorite words. Equanimity, is right up there, it is a word to aspire to. One that has featured heavily in the various religions of the world. And, one to cogitate as you try and define who you will be. Equanimity is defined by Webster as “evenness of mind especially under stress”. It is the quality that allows you to make a good decision when your world is full of drama. It is also the same quality that allows you to assess a hazard filled situation and outline a strategy to deal with it.
It is fairly obvious why it is valued as a quality, what is not recognized is that it is relatively straightforward to develop. The thing that interests me is that as a society we seem to be doing everything in our power to prevent children from growing it.
Like a muscle, if we choose the right exercises and steadily repeat and increase the difficulty of them, then we see growth. Lots of light repetitions is the best way to start. Meditation and getting out in nature are going to be the two best teachers. When a child stands on a high diving board and chooses to jump, while a friend backs off, it is for a number of reasons. The child that jumps is thinking about the benefits of jumping, while the child who does not is thinking about the negative factors. The one who jumps has a catalog of smaller good experiences that informs her or him that the jump is worthwhile. The jumper is able to strip away the monkey mind and see the jump for what it is. I do not necessarily need my child to be bold, I do want him to display equanimity and I do want him to take the experiences he learns from adventurous activities and transfer them into the rest of his life.
My question becomes, is it dangerous to not give our children the opportunities to manage risk?
An article in the Atlantic on Alex Honnold & equanimity
Alex Honnold writes about the death of Dean Potter in Time Magazine
Another blog post on equanimity and climbing