Keeping a Cool Head and Warm Heart in Challenging Times

Cooling the fires of reactivity by cultivating equanimity so we can find steadier ground on which we can stand to meet the challenges of the day.

The spread of COVID-19 around the world is being more than matched by the spread of information. Words that we had never or rarely encountered have become mainstream— “coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolation, pandemic.” Other words are increasingly encountered everywhere, “unprecedented, uncertain, scary, worry and anxiety.”

Cultivating good health education by understanding the very real threats we face is very important for preventing the virus’ spread. But as we educate ourselves we’re also creating understandable fear, worry, and anxiety. This is a double-edged sword that on the one side creates an appropriate call to action and on the other can create panic, reactivity and additional problems.

Clearly we need an international coordinated public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we also need another type of response at the level of our psychological well-being.

Cultivating Equanimity

Both modern psychology and ancient wisdom traditions emphasize the importance of equanimity: a quality of inner balance and steadiness that is imbued with awareness, care, and compassion. Equanimity is neither detached nor idealized. Rather it is a very real engagement with what we’re facing, but…