“A modern definition of equanimity: cool. This refers to one whose mind remains stable and calm in all situations.”
~Allan Lokos, Pocket Peace
Every so often (or more), there comes a day that challenges my sense of stability, peace, or safety. You may be familiar with this phenomenon. The morning news stirs up emotional responses, nothing seems to go right, every stop light is red, and rushing to catch up or move beyond only seems to increase the effect of frustration, or the feeling of unsettlement. The solution to days, or moments, like these can be found in Patanjali’s Sutra 1.33.
Maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha
duhkha punya apunya visayanam
bhavanatas citta prasadanam
The mind becomes tranquil through
the practice of friendliness toward the happy,
compassion toward the miserable,
joy toward the virtuous, and equanimity toward
Upeksha, or equanimity, is a state of even-minded openness. Even though we may be stirred or moved by outer circumstances, and are motivated to make things better, our deep inner stability and serenity remains undisturbed–if we have developed equanimity. We are better able to respond in balanced and clear ways, rather than reactively. A balanced heart feels without grasping, pushing, or pulling.
We never know what changes, or consequences, each day will bring. Equanimity allows for things to be just as they are. The qualities of friendliness, compassion, and joy are balanced by the stability of equanimity. This enables us to offer an open heart in all situations, without expectations or attachments.
On the mat–and off–we have many opportunities to practice kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity towards ourselves. Each time we fall out of a pose, compare ourselves to others, break that favorite cup, get cut off in traffic, we can repeat to ourselves, “May I not be caught in reactivity.”
As we enter the hot months of summer, we will be working with managing our inner tapas (fire), and developing non-reactivity. See below for one of the cooling pranayam (breath) exercises we will be practicing.
See you on the mat!
- This pranayam can be practiced anywhere, anytime.
- Gently press your upper and lower teeth together, and part your lips comfortably so that your teeth are exposed.
- Inhale slowly through the gaps in your teeth, and focus on the hissing sound of the breath.
- Close the mouth, and exhale slowly through the nose.
- Repeat up to 20 times.