Guest Post * “Quelling the Chaos” * MindMindful * Thank you Shala!

Equanimity is a state of mental or emotional stability or composure arising from a deep awareness

and acceptance of the present moment.



I have experienced this, sometimes for months at a time,

sometimes only for  seconds.

The length of time in direct proportion to the number of hours

spent in Vipassana or Anapana meditation.

When  it mattered most,

in the moments after my father in laws suicide,

I was in the Present Moment.

It was a Moment that is  suspended in air.

That moment allowed me to BE.

To BE in that circumstance was a gift beyond measure.

In that MOMENT my Buddhist practices kicked in;

I was THERE and could BE.

When I knew my mother was gone:

I was THERE. I could BE.

What a blessing.

Shala of MindMindful writes with Gift and Heart

about Loving Kindness, Presence and Love.

I am honored to have her Guest Post here today.

Shala says,

“Mindfulness practices — especially meditation — teach us how to be aware of what responses we choose. They teach us how to see what our mind is doing, so that we can choose mindfully, with intention, & thus quell the chaos.”

Shala, Thank you.

Namaste,  Jen


Quelling the chaos

A while ago, Jen asked me if I would write something for this blog, & I readily agreed. This grew out of a comment exchange, & she proposed a topic: Finding serenity in chaos. Well, I’ve been working on this ever since, & find myself having a surprisingly difficult time with it. I mean — what the holy heck do I know about being serene in the midst of chaos?!? I’m not excessively skilled in this, oh no. But, I do know that learning to be calm in the midst of the roiling turmoil is certainly something I aspire to, oh yes.

And, after thinking about this for a while now, I think I DO have a tidbit of insight to offer. This arises from my ongoing quest to become more mindful, which means seeing what is going on with my mind. This is what I explore in my blog, MindMindful …………. my hope is that it will be of some benefit to YOU as well.

I first heard this many years ago: “We choose how we respond, how we feel, what we think.” Huh?? And I’ve since read & heard from different Buddhist teachers that what our minds come up with is not substantively solid. What they mean is that the products of our minds are not really real, except that we allow them to take on a reality, we make them realUh ……. ok ……..

So, bear with me here: When we feel an emotion in response to <>, we get caught up in it. We indulge it, we play it out. We REplay it over & over, building it up, making it bigger, more important. Its significance inflates & it becomes very very real to us, & the reality that we believe it has makes it even more real. It becomes a ‘solid’, substantive thing. It comes to have a life of its own, in a way, & we believe, with no doubt, that THIS emotional response belongs to THAT emotional stimulus. We accept that it just IS that we will have that response to that thing. Our responses become ‘knee-jerk’, they just happen, as if we have nothing to do with them. (And we also tend to assume that everyone else will have that same response to that same thing.) BUT — the truth of it is — we don’t have to have that emotional response to <<whatever>>. No??

Here’s an example: The national flag. It’s a powerful symbol, loaded with a great deal of emotional content, & citizens of any country are geared toward feeling something when they see their flag. When we (Americans) see the Stars & Stripes, we feel the tug toward a powerful emotional response; the one most people feel is some sense of patriotism. This, over time, has come to be the expected response, & most United States citizens feel some measure of this — yearning, pride, belonging, safety, duty. This response has come to be such a given, that any politician, for example, who doesn’t have a U.S. flag lapel pin can be successfully derided as “not patriotic enough”.

Now, feeling patriotic feelings seems like a no-brainer to most of us, as such emotions belong to your national symbol ……. don’t they?. But consider this: If these responses (pride, etc) really belong to that stimulus (the flag), if they are inherently real, in & of themselves —-> then, everyone who sees the U.S. flag will feel those feelings, everytime they see the flag.

Yet this is not so: Afghanis & Iraqis might feel rage or humiliation ………. Prisoners of war might feel shame or anger ………… People against U.S. governmental policies might feel inspiration to work against them. See? The feelings do not belong to the flag, they are not automatically triggered by the sight of it, they are not a part of the flag. AND, they also do not belong to the person who is feeling them, as they are not inherently a part of ‘looking at the flag’. Here’s the truth of it: Any emotions, out of all the range of possible emotional responses when encountering the Stars & Stripes, are chosen. It’s very likely that they are not consciously chosen. And it’s very likely that we are not aware of deciding to feel how we feel. But, because we could feel a sense of duty, but might not…… or, we could feel disgust, but might not ………. we are making a choice about what we do feelHmmmm ………..

This is just one example of feeling one emotion in response to one particular stimulus –Now, consider how many emotional responses you have to how many emotional stimuli — in just one day? How about — in all the days of your life??!?!?!? And consider too how fleet emotional stimuli can be, how ephemeral, how insistent, how powerful. Ay yeeee!

It is easy to see how we develop specific emotional responses to any given stimulus — it’s exhausting to consider making a choice in each & every instance. I mean, who’s got the time to figure it all out, every time, when there are so many friggin’ things to do?!?!? WHO CAN POSSIBLY STAY CALM ENOUGH IN THE MIDST OF THE CHOOSING?!?!?! Eeeeeek!

Yes, it’s chaos ‘out there’ & responding to it in a knee-jerk fashion seems the easiest, most comfortable, best choice. But these untended thoughts & responses create chaos ‘in here’. And since choosing we are, & choosing we must, let us choose better. Therein lies the possibility of serenity in the midst of the roiling turmoil. Mindfulness practices — especially meditation — teach us how to be aware of what responses we choose. They teach us how to see what our mind is doing, so that we can choose mindfully, with intention, & thus quell the chaos.

~ by Step On a Crack on April 17, 2012.

10 Responses to “Guest Post * “Quelling the Chaos” * MindMindful * Thank you Shala!”

  1. Awesome post …..


  2. Awesome, inspiring, well shaped. Thank you.


    • Hey there!

      Thank you for being here. Sorry for the late response. Shala is amazing. I LOVE her blog; she always gives me a reality check. REAL reality the Heart kind!

      Peace, Jen


  3. This is amazing. This is why i’m attracted to Buddhism: It makes sense! Meditating is so difficult for a chaotic mind. I hope to learn how to quiet myself enough to find those moments of calm amidst chaos. xo ladies! Mel


    • I LOVE Shalas blog! She helps me to find some center. It is weird: when the s**t hits the fan, my Buddhist practices kick in. It often makes me wonder if that is my Core. I think that many of the Buddhist and Hindu teachers do a great job of suggesting that YES we are all ONE and there is ONE god (even if there are 80 bazillion gods and goddesses in the pantheon) Did you know there are some kinds of Buddhism that do not believe in God at all: look up Theravada Buddhism.

      Harper Power to you my Friend!

      Love Jen


  4. great post. very similar to the teaching of course of miracles – things are just things; thoughts are just thoughts. We as individuals acribe meaning to them. thanks


    • Louise! YES! I had not made that connection. I LOVED the Course in Miracles. The Course in Miracles is a great way to introduce ancient concepts to a contemporary Western audience. You just motivated me to dig my books out!

      Thank you very much!
      Peace, Jen


  5. thank you Jen. thank you Shala. Namaste.


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