What is Equanimity and Why is it Important? (A Short Stream)

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Let’s face it, life is filled with adventures, surprises, changes, hard times, good times, and much more.

What a wild ride it is to even be living as a human being on this earth.

Along with these life events and circumstances comes the inner landscape of emotions, sensory experiences, thoughts, and images which drive our behavior.

This inner landscape of what it feels like to be human is constantly changing and reacting to stimuli each and every day.

In this article, I’m expressing my thoughts around equanimity and what it means to be able to allow sensory experience to flow in your body, as I think this is one of the most important skills required in living a vibrant and fulfilling life.

What is Equanimity?

First, I want to start by defining equanimity clearly.

The standard definition online is: mental calmness and composure, especially in difficult situations.

I think this definition lacks some important detail about equanimity. Below is the definition of equanimity that I like.

Equanimity: Radical non-interference with the natural flow of sensory experience in the body.

I find this definition to be more accurate because our internal sensory experience is what drives our behavior in all situations.

If we don’t like an emotion and push it down then that decision will drive our behavior unconsciously. If we crave a sensation or emotion then this will also drive our behavior. 

So simply put, equanimity is the ability to allow the sensory experience to flow naturally in the body without resistance.

This can also be looked at as a form of total self-acceptance and self-love.

If someone has equanimity they have the ability to completely accept and allow their own true expression in the world without fear of judgment.

This is where I think the standard definition of equanimity lacks when it mentions mental calmness or composure. 

Someone with equanimity can be taking aggressive action in the world or be presenting to others as fierce, soft, afraid, or sad, and still have equanimity if they are able to completely allow their internal sensory experience.

Equanimity is about the internal landscape and a person’s ability to not push or pull on internal experiences. 

It does not necessarily mean a calm-looking composure on the outside, which society often interprets as equanimity. 

Someone with equanimity has the freedom to choose how they want to respond to each situation not based on the push and pull of their emotional force but based on their own conscious decision in spite of internal fluctuations.

It’s ok to be scared or sad or anxious or angry or thrilled.

Equanimity just means that we get to decide consciously how we respond to that internal stimulus when it arises. We can allow it completely while carrying about our day or we can even use the energy to take necessary action if the signal our body gives us is correct. 

The key is that we are able to decide how we want to respond when the internal landscape changes instead of being completely controlled by the storm.  

Why is Equanimity Important?

I think cultivating equanimity throughout life is a very important skill to develop.

It’s important for a few reasons:

  1. It enhances our fulfillment in life
  2. It enhances our ability to feel fully alive and human
  3. It reduces and/or eliminates suffering
  4. It allows us to better achieve our life aims
  5. It allows for peace despite uncontrollable circumstances 

One of the most important reasons equanimity is important is because there are things that will happen in our lives that are out of our control. 

A medical illness, a car crash, a body deformation, a radical change in life circumstances, a financial hardship, a divorce, death, a change in career, growing old, a surge in money or wealth, and countless other events take place in life very often.

It’s not really if something like this will happen but when it will happen.

This is the reason I think equanimity is such a great skill. If one has equanimity and their life goes through a change it will enable them to flow with the change and not struggle as much. 

Someone with equanimity may even enjoy some of these changes as they are able to experience them fully.

Another more practical reason why equanimity is important is it allows us to achieve our goals in a more reasonable manner.

On any path to achievement, there are numerous ups and downs and a good deal of stress. This is the case unless someone has a high degree of equanimity. If someone has equanimity they will be able to speed up the process because they won’t get in their own way as much by falling into negative emotion spirals, stress, and other destructive habits.

The Path to Equanimity

Let’s face it, there are not really that many people who have true equanimity.

This is because it takes time, learning, and experience in allowing your most challenging emotional tendencies to flow.

Our natural reaction without practice is to push away and pull into these intense feelings when they arise.

Most of us, myself included, are still at the mercy of our internal sensory experience in some way or another. 

In order to reach a true state of equanimity, this means that you have been able to consistently feel and allow all the sensory experiences that you don’t necessarily like over and over again until they become just feelings you experience with no extra driving force attached.

It means you would have no problem if your worst-case scenario came true and you had to live through it. 

So how do we increase equanimity?

It’s simple but not easy to do. And it takes a long time.

When an emotion, sensation, or feeling arises in your body that you don’t like or that creates a strong craving or resistance you work on relaxing and allowing the feeling to do whatever it wants for as long as it wants.

You change from resisting your internal experience to welcoming and loving each feeling that arises in your body.

At the beginning of this process, you won’t have the ability to do it very well because your body has already built up a conditioned response to each stimulus. 

That’s ok. The key is to just work on allowing a little bit more each time and not beat yourself up when you succumb to intense emotion.

As long as you do your best and try to let go even a little bit that’s all that matters.

Over time your body will start to change and it will slowly develop the ability to let go more and more to where you can completely experience sensory experience without altering it.

This is the path to true equanimity.

What if You Can’t Have Equanimity?

A lot of people, myself included will go through periods where for some reason or another their body just isn’t ready to allow certain strong sensory experiences.

This happens a lot of the time in people who have more severe trauma, illness, or psychological baggage in their system. 

Heck, it even happens to the normal person without any severe issues as well.

So what do we do if we just can’t seem to have equanimity and allow our feelings?

We simply accept the fact that we are not able to have equanimity right now and we work on allowing what is to be exactly the way it is (all frustration included).

We acknowledge the truth of the matter that we can’t change our tension, judgment, fear, anxiety, depression, certain symptom, or other issues and we work on bringing acceptance and equanimity to that predicament instead.

It’s a paradoxical sequence of events.

In order to enable change in a positive direction, we have to first be willing to totally accept and love the situation we currently find ourselves in.


Cultivating equanimity is a lifelong process.

It takes humility, courage, and the willingness to experience things exactly the way they are in your current situation.

This includes all pain, suffering, physical symptoms, and emotions.

When someone first starts to develop this skill they will most likely not be able to.

The key is to accept where you are even if you can’t cultivate equanimity and work on accepting that.

Over time things may gradually start to move. Then you may get a glimpse of true equanimity. 

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Josh is a writer and entrepreneur who runs a small digital content publishing business. His main interests are in topics related to developing personal and financial freedom. When not working he enjoys reading, yoga, surfing, being outdoors, meditating, exploring, and hanging with friends.