Equanimity

Flower arrangement

As a solid mass of rock

Is not stirred by the wind,

So a sage is not moved

By praise and blame.

Dhammapada 81-83

 

When we hear the word equanimity, it can imply detachment, cold-heartedness, a lack of emotions. On the other hand, when I find myself day after day ‘sweating the small stuff’, getting emotional about every little up and down, tossing and turning half the night because of some stress, greater equanimity seems like a wonderful idea! Daniel Siegel has a nice way of putting it when he talks about having enough limbic firing (activation of the mammalian part of our brain) for vitality but not chaos. Sometimes people come to meditation as a way of trying to escape their feelings, of becoming detached from the vicissitudes of life, of floating, as it were, above the ‘cesspool’ of human existence. However, most forms of meditation, including mindfulness meditation, are not about being detached, but becoming more connected to life. Yet this connection comes with greater equanimity – towards one’s own emotional states, mistakes and vulnerabilities, and also that of others.

It’s easy to fake equanimity – pretending we don’t care when we’ve been snubbed, or received an award, or didn’t get credit for an idea at work. Continue reading “Equanimity” »