Today I’m completing Week 3 of Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution. This week focused on equanimity, and it was another significantly challenging week. (Here are my reflections on Week 1 and Week 2)
According to Baptiste, “Equanimity is the art of meeting life as it meets you—calmly, without drama or fuss” (1). The two laws that compliment this weeks’ yoga, meditation, diet, and inquiry are Shift Your Vision and Drop What You Know.
There were several quotes that I found notable as I read this week’s laws:
“Yes and no are present in all things. To say yes to one thing automatically means saying no to another,” (2).
“When we find the pureness of our intention, we unleash a force that has the miraculous and infinite ability to rally circumstance, energy, situations, synchronicity, and serendipity all on our behalf,” (3).
Despite resonating with the text, this week was rough! In the middle of the week I told a friend I was “failing” equanimity week. So much so, that I was considering doing the week a second time, starting fresh on Monday and giving myself another chance at successfully completing the intent of the week.
So, why did I think I was failing? I did the yoga and meditation every day. I’m getting stronger, and I enjoyed the challenge of the physical practice.
However, keeping Baptiste’s writing in mind as I made my way through the week, I began to see clearly how much of my life I consistently approach from a perspective of fear, instead of from a place of optimism, possibility, or equanimity. I noticed this time and time again throughout the week, but examples of where I was able to flip this and approach life’s circumstances with a clearer mind were few and far between. This lead me to be very discouraged by mid-week.
I fully embrace the idea that our perspective colors even the most minor of our decisions, which cumulatively create the circumstances that become our lives. If I’m always coming from a place of fear, and making choices from the perspective that something catastrophic is lurking just around the corner, at best I am living life from a position of mediocrity.
I also had significant challenges with the diet this week. Baptiste states that: “the practices in this book are a study in the art of staying: Even if you think you might die if you don’t have a chocolate bar, stay and breathe. Even if it feels terrifying to sit with the truths that are coming up, stay and breathe anyway. The more you can ride out the storms within, the clearer the horizon will be,” (4).
Oof. I definitely had my share of chocolate, dates, and plantain chips this week with every challenging and stressful situation. Each time a situation came up, I convinced myself of why I really needed some chocolate this time, but that next time I would start being more deliberate in my choices.
I did also have one very positive and thought provoking experience this week. Yesterday, I went hiking with a friend. The hike was steeper than I expected, with switchbacks and some significant drop-offs. I navigated the trail fairly easily and I did not let my fear of heights become the focal point of the day.
We did reach a point in the hike where we thought we were lost. We were fairly high up, and in front of us there was a steep drop and a sharp turn with a rock jutting out into the path. The perfect combination to bring my fear of heights to the forefront. At this point, I decided we should turn back and try a different route.
Back in the parking lot, we found a park ranger. When we described where we had been, he noted that we were on the new trail, that was not yet marked. He said it was beautiful, and it leveled out just beyond the curve that we described. With some directions, we decided to go back up and try it again. This time I made it around the steep curve without a problem, and we continued to hike for several more miles.
This incident made me think about how often in life I may turn back right before the critical juncture; giving up when things get hard or uncertain, instead of continuing on despite the challenge.
But then, how do I know when it really is time to give up, or to try out a new path? Maybe yesterday we needed to go back and get some directions so that when we continued on we could focus on the beauty of our surroundings instead of the uncertainty of the path ahead.
Going forward, I’ll use this story as a reminder to seek out the balance between embracing uncertainty and learning from the experience of others.
After completing the week, I decided that I am going to move forward on Monday, instead of repeating Equanimity.
I did “shift my vision” and gain a clearer understanding of some of the limitations I place upon myself in life. I definitely did not sit patiently through my cravings for sugar or drop the fear.
But sometimes you have to move on from something, and gain some distance from it, in order for everything to come together clearly. When I had challenging engineering or math classes in college, I remember often not understanding one lesson until it was applied as part of the next; and then everything would click.
With this in mind, I am hopeful that the lessons from next week, and some time and distance, will allow me to more fully embrace the practice of Equanimity.
(1) Baptiste, Baron. 40 Days to Personal Revolution. 2004, Baptiste Power Yoga Institute, Inc. p123.
(2) Baptiste, p20.
(3) Baptiste, p20.
(4) Baptiste, p152.