Can Christian churches cultivate equanimity?

DAY 21 REFLECTION: Can Christian churches cultivate equanimity?

Christian churches rarely focus on equanimity. It is often considered a Buddhist thing, but it is very Christian, like the peace that Paul wrote about: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(49) 

We become more equanimous when we can let go of our unconscious mind’s compulsions to cling to what we have and crave for more. Said another way, equanimity is the ability to let go and let God. It is a condition of perfect balance, something like a car that is in neutral gear. When things are going well, we can watch and appreciate what’s happening without letting it go to our heads. When things are going poorly, we don’t have to pile grief on top of it, knowing it will pass. 

Without equanimity we cannot fully appreciate the present moment. We become imprisoned by our unconscious minds, want what we don’t have, and constantly compare ourselves to others and to self-imposed and externally imposed standards. Making the transition to equanimity requires practice through meditation and silent prayer.

Without training and practice, the unconscious mind will always want to be in charge. The mind is a problem-solving machine, and if there’s not an immediate problem to solve, it will have no trouble manufacturing a new one. When this happens, we cannot fully experience the peaceful abundance of our direct experience in the present moment.

Conscious Christian churches can help their members free themselves from their mind’s obsessions and compulsions—even if only for short periods—by teaching and encouraging meditation and silent prayer. The result? Greater calmness, more personal composure, and less anxiety in Christian lives, especially during difficult times. 

Equanimity increases when we can detach from the unconscious mind’s seeming addiction to obsessive thinking. By loosening the grip of the egoic mind, we can directly experience the magnificence of life. Paul pointed to this in the following way: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit […] so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all.”(50)

If churches can embrace and teach the path to equanimity, they will help Christians experience continuous spiritual rebirth. As it says in Second Corinthians, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”(51)

49. Phil. 4:7, NRSV
50. Rom. 15:13,32–33, NIV
51. 2 Cor. 5:17, NIV