Enhancing and Stabilizing Equanimity


John C. Rhead


Many machines with rotating parts contain flywheels. Almost all automobile engines

have them. A flywheel is a heavy wheel which rotates when the machine of which it is a

part is running. Because it is heavy the flywheel absorbs surges of energy, thereby

causing the machine to run more smoothly. The flywheel also stores kinetic energy when

it is rotating and can keep a machine running for a period of time even if the usual source

of energy (e.g. gasoline motor, water wheel, windmill) stops providing input.

I have begun to notice something like a flywheel in my consciousness. During times

when I am meditating or in some other way opening my awareness to a state of

equanimity, perhaps even to “the peace that passeth understading,” I seem to be adding

energy to the flywheel that is connected to such a state. Because this state seems

incompatible with speeding things up, I do not imagine my flywheel of consciousness is

increasing the speed at which it is rotating--the way energy is added to mechanical

flywheels. Rather, my flywheel of consciousness seems to increase its mass by growing

larger as I rest in equanimity, while continuing to rotate at the same stately speed. Each

time I add energy to my equanimity flywheel in this way I imagine that it has grown in

size, in thickness and/or diameter. Sometimes I imagine that it has changed in density,

going from wood to steel or stone, and therefore is capable of storing even more

equanimity energy. The result is that my degree of equanimity is less likely to be

reduced when I encounter a situation in my life that would be expected to reduce it, such

as something that might stimulate anger, fear, or stress.


It is reasonable to consider psychotherapy to be a process that can enhance equanimity

over time, even though any given session may be stressful as one does the hard work of

encountering both the personal and the collective unconscious at deeper and deeper

levels. It is perhaps even reasonable to assume that the therapist’s flywheel of

consciousness, if it is spinning smoothly and with substantial accumulated equanimity

momentum, can transfer energy to the client’s flywheel by induction, through the

resonance provided by the intimacy of the therapeutic relationship. This assumption

implies that the therapist must pursue ongoing experiences of equanimity, through

meditation, psychotherapy, prayer, communion with human or non-human beloveds,

vision quests, encounters with mortality, or whatever might meet this need for him or her.

Such activities can be conceptualized as cultivating intimacy with The Divine in order to

create an inductive relationship with the Great Flywheel of Life, which in turn can be

conceptualized as having infinite mass and therefore rotating at a constant speed under all



It has been speculated that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS, or “crib death”) is less

 likely to occur when infants sleep next to their mothers, and that this is a result of the

 stabilizing effect of the electromagnetic radiations emanating from mother’s mature nervous

 system when it is in close proximity to the infant’s immature nervous system.  So perhaps it is

 for all of us at any age when we surrender ourselves to the presence of  The Great Mother, in

 whatever form we may find Her, from time to time.



Published as part of a regular column on psychotherapy and spirituality at