MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT
A few weeks ago I spent 11 days taking care of our 17-month-old granddaughter. It was quality time and I was her primary caregiver. We got to know one another really well and we integrated into one another’s lives and habits. I prepared her food, and she threw back at me what she didn’t like. I changed her diapers and she accompanied me on all my bathroom visits. I made calls on my phone and she put up a fuss if she wasn’t able to join in the conversation. She expressed her independence, and I released the hold on my own, if only for those 11 days. She went to bed easily at the end of the day and slept deeply until morning. Me too. It was an experience I treasure, but won’t repeat until I have fully recovered. Maybe when she’s 5.
While our granddaughter was staying with us we were lucky enough to have our other grandchildren visit as well. On one particular afternoon, our oldest grandson was hanging out with us and playing very intently with some matchbox cars. He had them lined up inside a large coffee table tray. The vehicles were separated by color and function. Trucks in one line, cars in another. Blue vehicles parked together. Red cars to the right. Orderly and organized. He stood back from the ottoman on which the tray and his cars rested to admire his work, when along came a tornado of sticky fingers and propelling arms. In a desperate effort to shield his auto masterpiece, he threw his body over the tray. But our granddaughter was quick and had the advantage of surprise. In a matter of seconds, the carefully tended order of his cars and trucks was reduced to a scattering of metal and wheels.
Needless to say our grandson was upset. At the age of nearly 6, he didn’t want to cry but he was fighting hard to keep his composure. And I had to sympathize. I helped him gather together his toys, put them back into the tray and we moved them to a table top beyond the reach of a toddler’s grasp.
How often do we find ourselves in similar situations? Plans get waylaid, meals get burned, accidents happen, and once in a while someone comes along and intentionally sweeps your best work right off the table. At times like this wouldn’t it be awesome if we were INCAPABLE OF UPSET? Yeah, right.
Imperturbability is just that: incapable of upset. In yoga terms it’s called upeksha. It comes from the word upe, meaning “over” and ksh, meaning “to look.” Overlook. Not the same as being indifferent. Imperturbability is more about letting go. We can certainly acknowledge the feeling of anger, frustration or disappointment, but rather than taking a bath in the upset, we decide to let it slide off our back. After all, no matter what we might be feeling, we are always responsible for how we act.
Jonathan Lockwood Huie is a contemporary author and self-proclaimed “Philosopher of Happiness.” He says, “I choose to respond to life’s provocations, not with anger, resentment, or regret, but with equanimity and a focus on positive action.”
Stuff happens. Daily, hourly, or at least frequently enough to upset the order of our lives. We don’t always see it coming. We can’t always avoid stepping in it. But we can make the decision to not be consumed by it. It takes practice to stay calm, but imperturbability is worth it.
Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.