by: Rochelle Calvert, PhD
Equanimity is an experienced that is cultivated when practicing mindfulness. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as “abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will.” This is the state that allows for us to have a deeper sense of stability while allowing us to experience all that arises with understanding and ease.
Our capacity to experience equanimity has to do with being able to see what is arising clearly in awareness AND not be caught by what we are seeing. More simply put it is balanced awareness to what is hear that allows a great sense of peace.
In the Pali language Equanimity is “Upekkha”. When this word is translated it has two meanings 1: “to look over” and 2: “to see with patience/understanding”. The first part refers to the power of our mindfulness practice to allow us to observe what is here, without being caught in what is here. The second part refers to our ability to be responsive (non-reactive) to what is arising. As we see more clearly what is here, allow non-reactiveness to be experienced we begin to find our center and balance with what is arising in life. Our inner strengthening of this capacity gives way to inner calm, well-being, confidence, vitality and integrity. Equanimity when well cultivated gives rise to peace and balance.
The two practices that support my own experience and cultivation of equanimity are concentration practice and well-being practices. An example of on of my concentration practices is setting my focus to the breath and encouraging my attention to the sensations of my breath. I take note to both the calming sensations arising as well as any reactions to the experiences that are arising. This allows me to cultivate the observation and calm within the observation. For my well-being practice I often cultivate this when drinking my morning tea. I take moments to feel the sensations of warmth in my mouth and body, the smells of the earth, and tastes sweetness and bitterness. By staying close to these sensations as I drink my tea a sense of my sense of cultivating well-being, balance, and connectedness. Both of these mindfulness practices ultimately allow me to deepen by capacity for observation and inner balance.
The cultivation of equanimity is the development of our inner strength that keeps us balanced in the midst of all that is.