Cultivating calmness of mind

In the Major Arcana tarot deck, there’s one particular card that comes to mind when discussing calmness of mind.

The Wheel of Fortune represents the cyclical nature of life. Everyone goes through personal ups and downs, and nations often cycle through periods of war and peace. Similarly, the market is forever fluctuating, and seasons change with consistent regularity.

What the card seeks to communicate is that one should enjoy the good times and accept that they, too, will run their course — as well as seek to learn from the bad times without forgetting that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Really, we’re reminded here of the old adage: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

Calmness of mind is the ability to approach ups and downs with the same attitude of steady acceptance.

It’s also about extending compassion to all living beings — including those who litter the internet with vile, nasty comments, and those with worldviews we find abhorrent. No one ever said yoga was light, easy work.

With all of that said, most of us don’t reach Dalai Lama levels of transcendence overnight. Rather than start with trying to cultivate compassion for an enemy, begin with the small stuff: Be one with rush-hour traffic. Avoid putting too much stock into a first date or job interview. Don’t panic when your bank account veers toward empty — or become overzealous during periods of abundance.

Calmness of mind is the ability to evaluate each experience from an objective distance, understanding how it fits into the larger trajectory of your own life. It’s about being okay with constant change and flux; with living a life that’s somewhat of a moving target. It’s also about realizing that nothing in the world is ever complete. Everything — including ourselves — is constantly in the process of becoming. No vision ever manifests itself completely the way we imagined, but that’s because our aims usually shift by the time it even gets close to that point.

When you’ve mastered the art of not sweating the small stuff, focus your attention on this especially. You will be the picture of calm once you find yourself capable of reaching your goals — often in the way you least expected, and all the while expecting the view to look different from over there.