Happy April, and welcome to Day 1 of the month-long A-to-Z blogging challenge where many hundreds of folks are posting their way through the alphabet.
I love language, especially obscure, strange, wonderful words and I’m also on a mission to be an anchor of loving-kindness, peace, and serenity in these particularly tumultuous and challenging times. So this month I’ll be combining these passions and creating an abecedarium on pronoia, peace and quiety based on unusual words. Pronoia is the philosophy based on the belief that the universe is conspiring to shower us all with blessings; quiety means calmness and serenity; and peace of course needs no definition.
Let’s begin our journey by dipping into ataraxia, defined as “a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquility.”
This concept was fundamental in the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. He believed the greatest good could be attained by living modestly, gaining knowledge of the workings of the world, and limiting one’s desires.
Although we might debate the parameters of what living modestly and limiting one’s desires might look like for each of us, I think overall this sounds like a very balanced path. One in fact that Buddha might have called “the middle way.”
Given the state of affairs currently in our world in which negativity, separation, and service-to-self seem prevalent collective energies, finding our way into ataraxia seems increasingly important. Not only for our personal well-being; but I think it’s helpful when we can hold a sense of calmness and stability when others around us are feeling wobbly.
There are a myriad of ways we can bring ourselves back to center, but today I’m thinking about this counsel from Thich Nat Hahn:
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves –
without rushing toward the future.”
Just reading that is calming, inspiring a slow deep breath. But I think he also brings up another important point that contributes to ataraxia – staying in the present moment. To project ourselves and our energy into the future, or to keep it mired in the past is not being in a state of freedom. It robs us of what we actually have available to us.
Perhaps you’d like to join me for a cup of tea – chamomile or valerian root are good calming choices. Add in a few slow, deep, gentle breaths and see if you can bring yourself into a moment of tranquility. I invite you to join me as well as an ambassador of ataraxia and help spread it more widely wherever it is needed.
Do you have a favorite calm-inducing practice? A favorite tea? An “A” word you’re contemplating today? Do tell – you know I love to hear.