Cultivating Upeksha – Equanimity

Amy Bell Equanimity Yoga Teacher Wellness Wellbeing Lifestyle Blog

An Equanimity Proverb: The Chinese Farmer.

Once upon a time, there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” 

The farmer said, “Maybe.” 

The next day the horse returned, bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening, everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events.” 

The farmer again said, “Maybe.”

The following day his son tried to break one of the horses in, and while riding it, he was thrown off and broke his leg. The neighbours then said, “Oh dear, poor him”.

The farmer responded, “Maybe.” 

The next day the conscription officers came around to sign up healthy young lads into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. All the neighbours came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” 

Again, he said, “Maybe.”

Equanimity in Yoga.

A good foundation for Equanimity is balance, peace and ease in mind and body.  Set yourself up for success.

  • Begin your yoga practice with some breathwork to help calm your nervous system.  Move into some grounding, gentle warm-up postures.  Continue with mindful breath throughout the practise.  Close with a long Savanases (rest pose) and a calming visualisation meditation.

Consciously or unconsciously we usually put yoga poses into 3 categories.  Our favourites, our least favourites and those that we have no preference for one way or the other.  

  • Practise those postures that you least like doing and see if you can bring more of a neutral state of mind to them.  Be mindful of any feelings of aversion that may arise.

From the left side to the right side, our body differs, you may be able to twist well one way in a pose but not so well in the other direction.

  • Notice these differences but try not to be disheartened if both sides don’t do what you want them to, or if one side doesn’t feel as good as the other.

Sometimes we are in a good headspace and our body feels great and other times we feel the opposite.  This is normal.

  • Catch yourself labelling your practises as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  The practice which was hard and not so enjoyable may have actually been even more beneficial for you than the one that felt better.  

Key remembrance: Put your thoughts or judgements aside and let the practice be as it is on any particular day.

Samen von wilder Pflanze mit hellem Hintergrund und weichem Effekt stille und reine Stimmung Winter

Equanimity Meditation Practice.

“You are the heir of your actions. Your happiness and unhappiness depend on your actions. Not upon my wishes.”

Keep repeating this phrase silently to yourself as you call to mind different people (follow the order below), spend a few minutes with each person (3-10 mins).

  1. Someone with whom you have neutral feelings towards / you may not know them.
  2. Someone you love / have positive feelings towards.
  3. Someone who you have unpleasant feelings towards / difficult relationship / you may not know them.
  4. Yourself.
  5. All beings.

Regardless of the person…

  • Hold the image of that person as clear as possible in your inner vision.
  • Rest in that place of balance between attraction and indifference.
  • Imbue this meditation with the quality of no preference.
  • Note your tone when saying the phrase, speak with neutrality as best as you can. 
  • Hold that person in the light of wisdom, with clear seeing, openness and evenness, not judging or blaming.
  • Notice any nuances in how you feel or how you repeat the phrase.
When we identify with the changing conditions in life (gain and loss, praise and blame), we become servants to them and tossed about by them.  By strengthening the quality of equanimity, we cultivate the mind state that contains all the other qualities, the other Brahamaviharas (loving-kindess, compassion and empathetic joy.)  And through repeating the statement and understanding how things are, it opens up more possibilities for happiness.

If you missed the previous post, I recommend checking it out…

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