As published in Yoga Magazine
Aug/Sept 2011

Keeping Calm

— by Jonathan Pofsky, MFT, CMT

or modeled appropriately. Before you engage in practices to support your desire to keep calm in the face of difficulty, it may be helpful to understand the anatomy of keeping calm.

There are two main building blocks in the development of these life-saving skills: mindfulness and equanimity. Mindfulness is the capacity for honest and non-judgmental self-observation that reflects what is true in any given moment. It is akin to holding up a mirror to our thoughts, emotions, and sensations. This kind of discriminative awareness requires a surrender of our opinions, judgments, and habitual reactions. It allows our consciousness to slow down as we recognize the truth of our experience: we feel fear, our minds are filled with worries, the breath is stuck in our chest. Mindful awareness allows us to locate ourselves in present time and space and makes evident the source of our agitations. Underneath our stressful thoughts, we are always reacting to an experience in the body. Root your mindful attention in your body, where you will discover the manifestations of both your tension and your ease. Regardless of what arises in mindfulness, we make direct contact with ourselves where we are, as we are. This is always the first step.

Equanimity is the capacity to bring a steady and balanced mind to what we discover with mindfulness. The experience of calmness that we seek is a direct result of our capacity to cultivate equanimity. The term equanimity comes from the Latin roots “equ” which means same or even and “anima” which means living being, breath, soul, mind. It literally means even mind, even breath, even living; the necessary ingredients in keeping calm. Equanimity is not the squelching or stifling of what we think and feel, but an invitation to feel more deeply and objectively. It the conscious development of a compassionate witness to the rollercoaster of life within.

Attending to strong emotions such as anger or sadness with a steady mind allows us to witness and feel the wave of e-motion, or energy in motion, without attaching to it or pushing it away. As you soften the tension in your body and breath, the nervous system will find greater success in regulating the disturbances of afflictive thoughts and emotions.

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Published Articles

Befriending Stress
    - Yoga Magazine

Keeping Calm
    - Yoga Magazine

Favorite Books Lists

A list of some favorite books related to helping with stress and anxiety.

Books on Stress & Anxiety
Books on Depression
Books on Stress & Mindfulness

Poetry by Jonathan Pofsky

As we arrive more fully into ourselves, a truth emerges. This truth defies censorship, judgment, and reason.

Jonathan’s Book

These words are my truth, the result of a commitment to deep listening and trust in life below the surface of things.

Helpful Links

Links to resources for help with stress and anxiety.