מנוחת הנפש/Menuhat haNefesh, Equanimity
“In stillness and calm you shall be saved” (Isaiah 30:15).
The prophet Isaiah lived in challenging times, including onslaughts from neighboring enemies, corrupt authorities and a grandson that put him on trial. So, when a guy like that tells me to keep my cool, it behooves me to listen. But what is the power of this equanimity? According to the Rosh, a towering leader of medieval Jewry, equanimity allows your inner wisdom to reveal itself while getting stirred up prevents it from prevailing. Many of us are familiar with this idea but in an intense moment we are quick to say that calm isn’t relevant at that time, that we must respond with equal intensity! But too often, that voice emerges because our wisdom is already clouded. If you’ve ever watched paramedics arrive on the scene you’ll notice that they don’t run around shouting like on TV. They walk with purpose but with measure, speak low and clearly, assess the situation and let their training do its work. All this in an emergency!
We can take the same approach in our daily lives. Conflicts, stress, problems and such will arise in our lives, but we are equipped with inner wisdom from our tradition. If we keep calm and let the wisdom of our tradition through, we can take care of whatever comes our way with equanimity.
מחשבה/Machshava (think it):
Make time each day this week to meditate. It can be through eating mindfully, chanting the Shema with extra attention, yoga or sitting meditation. In any case, practice keeping your mind in the present moment. This will strengthen your ability to come to a calm place in a trying moment.
מעשה/Ma’aseh (try it):
When caught in a stressful situation, pay attention to your breathing and let it deepen before responding. If possible, step outside of the situation for a few minutes, focus on your breathing and then return.