This Northern Exposure “Maybe” clip (below) has stayed with me since I first saw it. Here, Marilyn is recounting a fable about equanimity, which Merriam-Webster defines as “evenness of mind, especially under stress”. It requires the ability to suspend judgment by being unattached to an outcome. This ability allows us to react to a moment with grace and real emotion, rather than smugness if things go our way, or disappointment if they don’t.
Cultivating and practicing equanimity is a necessary skill in the retraining process after a diagnosis from focal dystonia. It would also help all musicians as we work. Yoga teacher Anne Cushman describes this “suspension of judgment” in her article “Calm, Clear Mind”.
“Practicing upekkha [or equanimity] …means our effort is not fueled by obsession with the outcome but by the integrity of the effort itself.” (Yoga Journal August 2007)
Cultivating equanimity might begin with small opportunities for change (suspending judgment when late because we are caught in traffic or when a car cuts us off ) which allows us to suspend our habitual reactions to larger events (like experiencing dystonic movement), thereby providing more physical control in that moment.