Equanimity

Before I really understood what it meant, I'd have thought equanimity was a rather dull aspiration. However, equanimity is now my master value - the enduring star on my frame of reference for life. So why this change?

Equanimity means to "maintain mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation."

At times we can generate anger and hostility towards others, only to regret our rather instantaneous reaction later. Such irritable reactivity is all the more likely when we are stressed with deadlines, pressures, and problems, have not slept well or feel run down. And then we can spend days regretting our actions. At other times we can feel that the world is stacking the odds against us, and we might even feel self-pity, and wallow in our low mood, helplessly giving up on projects, plans and aspirations that are dear to us. We can also lose our mental equilibrium when we go into orbit with our excitement. Our elation may quickly descend down the mood helter-skelter into anger, fear, guilt and shame if we suddenly come up against something that stops us in our tracks.

Often these changing emotions come hand-in-hand with a whole stash of thoughts that ratchet up the emotion. Remember the last time you felt angry...your mind probably went into all sorts of judgments about what SHOULD or SHOULD NOT have happened, and what a defective person it was who has crossed you in this way. Or when you were low, your mind almost certainly jumped to a supply of depressed thoughts about how you were a failure, and life never went your way, how you are always ending up feeling intolerably despondent, and what a drag it all is.

So if we manage to balance our reaction early, softening it with equanimity we can often allow a feeling to pass through our awareness before it snowballs into an overwhelming experience. Generating equanimity allows us to accept the highs and lows in life without getting totally taken over by the feelings. This means we feel the full range of emotions without being consumed by them. It means we can experience the feeling whilst knowing it is transient and not getting too caught up and identified with it. This way we can develop deeper fulfilment, satisfaction and joy, and be less caught up in the more flitting feelings that come and go.

This is an extremely practical strength to develop as it means we can be more stable in our mood, and more balanced and consistent in our actions. By being able to not get blindly caught up in an emotion, we can remain connected to what is important to us in life, and carry on moving towards our values.

In order to develop an even mind and mood it can help us to foreground it as something we are developing, keeping in mind our aspiration. It is also incredibly powerful to remain body-aware, so really having a sense of your own body. You can focus on the physical sensations of any part of your body to bring you back into the here-and-now. A particularly useful focus is the breath, as this is always present, and always moving. It draws us into the present moment. Another advantage of focusing on the breath is that we can consciously slow it down, directly settling our nervous systems into a more equanimous mode - activating the parasympathetic nervous system. A regular practice of mindfulness meditation can also help us maintain equanimity by developing our self-awareness, our awareness of how transient feelings and thoughts are, and our ability to step back from these experiences. Loving-kindness (compassion) meditation can also help us move more easily to a less hostile stance and become more accepting of other people, however they are towards us.

In my coaching and training work, I help you strengthen the skills that develop equanimity, enabling you to live a meaningful, satisfying life, with rich and rewarding relationships.

Contact me on jenny@contextualyse.com or 020 3409 2545.

Wellbeing

 

We hope to encourage and inspire you to find ways of improving the wellbeing of you and your team. Addressing issues upstream gives us a chance to prevent burnout, illness, and impaired productivity.

Drawing on an eclectic range of resources, including our clinical experience, psychological insights and our understanding of organisations, we want to help you find the wiggle room that will help you move from surviving towards thriving. By wiggle-room, we mean that space in which we have choice, and we can try things that may serve us a little better than our current status quo.

Wellbeing in the workplace is frequently couched in terms of the individual's ability to cope.  Whilst some of the wiggle-room may well be at individual level, a lot of the possibility for improving wellbeing lies in the work culture, including management and leadership practices, and styles of communication. 

Our workplace contexts are bigger than any one of us, and may challenge us to find different ways of understanding our agency.  We co-create cultures, and so can each learn to be leaders who inspire, and role-model wellbeing at work.

We explore not only what an individual can do to enhance their own wellbeing, and how they may influence their team, but also think about organisational processes and culture. 

The time is ripe to improve wellbeing at work. It is right up the agenda, with new governmental departments focused on enhancing working lives.  And even beyond the work environment alone, policy-makers are now moving beyond framing their success only in terms of GDP, and are looking at far broader indicators of what makes a society a good one to live in and contribute to.  Take a look at these wonderful graphical representations of international wellbeing comparisons:

http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/

So let's be part of a positive change to improve our wellbeing, that of our team and workplace community!

This is an adaptation of an article in GPonline magazine

http://www.gponline.com/wellbeing-gps-find-wiggle-room-tackle-stress/article/1389717

 

The wiggle-room helps create positive spirals  

The wiggle-room helps create positive spirals  

Resilience

HOW TO BUILD ORGANISATIONAL RESILIENCE

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	mso-ansi-language:EN-US;}      Resilience is the ability to weather a storm, and even grow from the challenge.

Resilience is the ability to weather a storm, and even grow from the challenge.

Understanding how to foster resilience in ourselves and our organisations is a key antidote to burnout, sickness leave and team dysfunction. Resilience is linked with an engage-approach mentality, in which our creativity and resources are fully alive.

What is resilience?

A common definition of resilience is that it is the ability to ‘bounce back’ from strain. In my view this definition is too tightly linked to the engineering origins of the word resilience. For humans we need a more organic, dynamic way of viewing resilience; one that pays attention to our psychological and social context. Resilience is about bouncing forwards; recovering and learning from difficulties to remain engaged and curious in life. 

What are the features of a resilient organisation?

 A resilient organisation will make systematic, proactive efforts to develop connected leadership, and to foster effective working relationships. A resilient organisation benefits from the collective knowledge and skills of its staff, because communication is open and flowing. This furthers engagement of staff who feel valued, and collaboratively able to shape the endeavour.

Accepting and adapting to complexity and uncertainty are significant aspects of resilience. There needs to be some ‘give’ in the system, and an avoidance of over-specification. On an organisational level the question is always how to create enough structure while allowing for flexibility.

By providing what staff need in the way of support, time and places to rest, eat, connect and process their work experiences the organisation lays in a store of energy and commitment it may need to draw on when the going gets tough.

How can an organisation improve its resilience?

Resilience is a dynamic process rooted in good connections with others, and with our values. It relies upon our ability to respond well to each unfolding moment, a skill that can be enhanced through mindfulness, acceptance and commitment training, and creating spaces for dialogue.

Contextualyse can help develop resilience through its work with organisations and individuals. Contact us if you would like to discuss how we might work with you. 

 

 

©Contextualyse Ltd. 2016