Ease up, the play is over.Horace Greeley
Two years ago, I adopted the somewhat ubiquitous and exotic term, equanimity, to act as both a guardrail and referential energy anchor. In Buddhism, equanimity even has its differing perspectives. However, whenever conflict showed itself in the various dynamics and relationships in my life, possessing a mindful approach at the ready to remain calm (with compassion and understanding) in the storm of emotion proved an invaluable lifehack. My marriage, familial, work, and personal relationships appear to have benefited from adoption of an equanimous interpersonal relationship practice. In essence, having an emotional ballast helped me through the early years of the pandemic.
New year, new word. Introducing ease.
We recognize and appreciated that the English language is replete with iteration and synonymy; that’s what happens when something owes itself to multiple origins. Derived from Middle English lexicon (ese, eise, aise), ease originates from Old French verb aisier, specifically from the phrase a aise (‘at ease‘). The noun later became the adopted form of the word. Google reports that the use of ease in literature has witnessed a gradual reduction from 1800s to the late 1980s, early 1990s. However, ease has been made a slow rebirth into our lexicon over the past two decades. No doubt its chameleon-like definition (something unpleasant, painful, or intense; to move more carefully or gradually with intention or purpose) offered another emotional foothold in challenging moments.
And of course, there exists (like everything else, it seems) disagreement, confusion, or at minimum, a lack of clarity on a universal definition of ease and/or related terms like ‘ease of use’. Ease, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is to “move or to make something move slowly and carefully in a particular direction or into a particular position.” Alternatively, the Collins Dictionary leads its definition of ease as “the state of being very comfortable and able to live as you want, without any worries or problems.” Indeed, ease is flexible and adaptable and able to hold many perspectives. We often confuse ease with easy. In its verb form ease may be seen as purposeful slacking or existing free from pain and/or worry.
While the term ease itself is not recognized by the research of Brene Brown in her amazing book, Atlas of the Heart, I would take a stab as note that it would fit cleanly in the subcategory she and her team define as “Place we go when Life Is Good”. In the Jane Austen classic, Emma, the heroine and title namesake wisely observes that a “mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.” Is Austen declaring that everything entering a mind at ease is naturally worth receiving attention? As an individual with a ‘lively’ mind, the act of engaging with something is never met with silence. So, would being open, calm, and without anxiety (or worry) be a healthy prerequisite for an individual to be present?
When my mind is quiet and absent of chatter (i.e., at ease) there exists with it an instantaneous clarity to seeing things as they are (i.e., usually either my reaction to something external or the reaction of another). Often in fact, during meditative state, a mind at ease can see the answer to a problem long disturbing us. The feeling of peace is an external energy (or force) that attempts to hold within oneself a general way of being with self others is on the other hand feels different. To me, a state of ease feels as though it is active in nature; a conscious made choice to be while in the world and interacting with others, aware of looking at her observing, and then integrating difficult times how to move through those challenging episodes stories relationships in our lives.
Another perspective might be to view ease as ‘peace at work’. Being at ease is a conscious awareness that requires active effort. Adopting this perspective has permitted me to compassionately support a close family member struggling with severe mental health challenges. Exercising ease has allowed me to be in the moment with that individual; to empathize, to have compassion. Approaching this particular situation with kindness and a state of peace has helped me to move through this tenuous and dynamic scenario.
Ease is the sign of grace in everything.Marty Rubin
And perhaps this ersatz argument is really one of semantics. But I don’t think so. I think a word (or words) matters. More specifically, how we use them matters even more. In the end, that’s all that really matters, isn’t it? We attempt to create for ourselves healthy beliefs through an exercise of honest self-awareness in service of difficult life challenges. Ease is what works for me; and ease is it what it is.