I long to have a place inside me that feels safe, no matter what is happening outside of me. A little island that's always dry and warm, safe, and peaceful. No one else can join me, the island is only big enough for me. It grows and shrinks as I do, and I'm always just the right size.
Not long ago, I lost my shit at my kids (in a guinea pig hay clogging the toilet situation) and afterwards, while wallowing in the shame that always follows, I went for a walk. As I listened to a meditation, the term equanimity was described. Equanimity is an"evenness of the mind, especially in the face of stress." It's composure, balance, an inner calm and steadfastness, regardless of external circumstances. I'd heard the word before, but this time it really stuck. THAT'S what I want. When things shift to the left, I need to automatically counter-weight to the right, so my I never lose my island center. When the outside world goes loud, I want my island to be silent. When it's too quiet out there, I want a warm conversation inside.
Apparently equanimity is a principal in Buddhism, and involves radical acceptance, non-attachment, and non-reactivity. There are exercises that involve getting comfortable being uncomfortable, learning to endure stimuli without reacting (like putting your hand in a bucket of ice water and working on holding it longer and longer) so you can strengthen the island of calm inside you. Like everything, it's scary and it takes practice.
The meditation mantra for equanimity was"even this." As in, even this annoying thing that always spikes my anger can be endured, because I have an island of peace. Even this tragic thing that hurts my heart can be tolerated without losing my island. Even this frustration, this rejection, this failure, this loss, this joy, this silliness, this embarrassment, this shame. This hay in the toilet. Even. This.
The "this" covers everything, and I know I can handle this because I've seen myself handle shit like this before, and because I'm fortifying my island of calm inside me. Even this.
I started practicing saying it out loud. That first day, my dog stepped on the back of my sandal and broke the shoe, and then promptly shat in the middle of the street while a passing car had to wait. Mortification and irritation? Yes. "Even this," I said through gritted teeth.
Since then, I've said "even this" through smiles, shrugs, tears. I've had real fear, longing, sadness, loneliness, guilt, shame, worry all in the past few weeks, because being human is hella uncomfortable. And each time, I reminded myself, "Even this."
It's helping, I think. My island feels a little sturdier each time; more like an actual place in me on which I can rely on and to where I can escape. I'm not skittering off in all directions based on how the wind blows. I'm trusting myself more.
And now it's tattooed on my left arm, so I can grip it to my heart. I had the artist move it down after she'd already marked me, because my armpit fat was bumming me out. The tattoo hurt. It took a while to heal.
Even armpit fat. Even healing. Even pain.