Mindful Equanimity and Homeostasis
Neuroscientist Antonio Demasio’s new book The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Culture. (2018) New York: Pantheon Books notes the very important role homeostasis plays in human life and well being. In some ways homeostasis is about the arising, falling, and balancing out of all things important to human life. Homeostasis plays vital roles in human feelings and emotions, motivation for actions, identification of internal states, monitoring positives and negatives, and the realities of progressively positive human development. It is also important in experiencing joy and happiness. Let’s review some core characteristics of homeostasis; it will soon become clear that meditative equanimity and homeostasis have many things in common. Perhaps human homeostasis and equanimity have deep innate, naturalistic tendencies in some people. Here are some characteristics.
- Homeostasis is the ultimate balancer of all things, causes, conditions, and outcomes.
- It relates to all bio-psycho-social-spirtual conditions in life.
- This inner self-balance allows us to cope better with suffering, and also allows us to fully experience joy and happiness – all of which arise and fall, thus balancing out.
- From a survival perspective homeostasis enables the propagation of species. It is the key driver of our evolutionary processes and change. Impermanence is in place here.
- It enables us to evaluate positive/pleasant, neutral, and negative/unpleasant experiences.
- Such judgments become part of our on-going consciousness.
- Sounds somewhat like the Middle Way in Buddhist Psychology.
- It is the stabilization of all life systems – the master regulator of it all.
- Much of it in autonomic/unconscious, but eventually a good deal of it enters our consciousness. We use it!
- In energetic ways homeostasis manages all our mind-body energies toward equilibrium, but it is beyond maintaining the status quo.
- It is a highly positive force working to maintain healthy life and development.
Now that you have a good idea about what homeostasis is, you may want to meditate on it and notice it in your mind and body. After that meditation, enter deeper practice and notice the homeostasis of your equanimity when you encounter it.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont and the Home of The Monkton Sangha
Author of Mindful Happiness