Exploring EquanimityIt was a beautiful day here yesterday. It was sunny, and with the temperatures in the mid-seventies it felt perfect. Today however it is raining, that drizzly constant rain that ensures that if you do go outside you will get soaked. It is all part of being in this area - that is how the Northwest is.
It might seem strange to be talking about the weather right now when the world seems so difficult. Many people are suffering, are experiencing financial hardship or threats to their health, or are worried about their loved ones or their own future.
But we can learn a lot from the weather. We can choose to let the weather drive our sense of well-being - happy when it's weather we like and miserable when it's weather we don't. Or we can choose to instead recognize that the weather is how it is, and accept it when it comes. When it rains, use an umbrella.
This is a form of equanimity, recognizing that weather we like and weather we don't like happens, and choosing to not allow our own sense of well-being to be dependent on it.
Equanimity can be a difficult concept, often because it is mistakenly associated with indifference or not-caring. Traditionally indifference and not-caring are called the 'near-enemies' of equanimity because while they might look a little like it they are really the opposite. That duck don't quack.
To understand equanimity you have to think of it in the context of the other three brahma-viharas: lovingkindness, compassion and joy. To have equanimity you have to first have compassion for those who experience suffering, joy for those who experience good things, all grounded in a love for all beings.
And that, my friends, is hard.
Which is why we do the practice. It is especially important to do the practice in times like these when it is so easy to get sucked down into the negative spiral of constant online commentary.
I discovered the simplest and most powerful way to practice equanimity from an old audio teaching by the recently-departed teacher Ram Dass. He taught using the simplest of mantras - "And This Also." Starting from a loving heart we can meet things that happen with "And This Also." We can feel compassion or joy, but always starting from love and recognizing that this is how things are.
By practicing in this way we can start to cultivate equanimity even in these difficult times. We can practice on the cushion, or we can use the mantra at any time as we experience things. As long as we are coming from the basis of a loving heart we will avoid indifference and start to experience equanimity.
You can practice equanimity by following along with the fully guided audio meditation below. You can of course listen at any time, but a group of us have committed to press 'play' together at 7pm PT on Sunday April 19th 2020 - you are welcome to join us if you wish.
Please feel free to share with your friends, and do let me know if you join us or have questions or requests. I love hearing from you.
If the above player doesn't work for you try clicking here.
Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash