Thursday, April 8, 2010


Originally uploaded by
susodediego 

Equanimity is the unattached awareness of one's experience as a result of perceiving the impermanence of momentary reality. It is a peace of mind and abiding calmness that cannot be shaken by any grade of either fortunate or unfortunate circumstance.

In Buddhism, equanimity is one of the four immeasurables and is considered:

Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality's transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as "abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will."

I am currently trying to get back to my practice of Mindful Meditation. In my self directed study of mindfulness, I have come across this concept of equanimity. What I learned today is that when we are in a state of mindfulness, and we feel unavoidable distress, we accept it, and when we feel pleasure, we accept it as well. This emotional acceptance is done without judgement. In Buddhism, we are taught to accept life's hardships in order to train our mind to appreciate what simply is, instead of allowing it to seek comfort and ease.

Often in life we are tempted to turn away from discomfort, and try to numb ourselves with substances, or through denial. In Buddhism it is thought that this type of practice will only weaken our capacity to feel. What is to be learned through practicing equanimity is that pleasure and pain have a lot in common. They are the complimentary sides of our ability to feel. If we deny ourselves the ability to feel our grief, or avoid our emotions when in grief, we will only be eroding the essence of our human capacity for deep love.

On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to wallow in our misery, then our identity becomes our suffering, and we weaken our capacity to move from our grief to a place of healing. If our suffering and ourselves become one, then we may lose our capacity to feel good.

What I see in this lesson is that if I try to hide from my suffering, or if I hold onto it too tightly, I will become emotionally blocked. I won't recognize when change, or healing, occurs. With mindful grieving I am able to carefully observe this tendency, and simply just feel what I am feeling.

This is more challenging than what it would seem. I have recognized in myself, a sense of worry, or self-judgement when the pain of my grief begins to subside. Rather than accept the reprieve, or accept that healing is taking place, I tell myself that it is not okay to feel anything other than my sorrow. I begin to put judgements on my emotions, telling myself that I am somehow betraying Michael by accepting the positive changes. If I continue to do this, I will never be able to adequately move forward with my life.

I am discussing this as a way of providing some understanding to those who read my blog. There may be entries that capture me when I am mindful of the pain of grief, and there may be posts when I capture my awareness of healing. I am trying to write from that place of mindfulness, so that I can clearly identify where I am in that moment. I find this challenging, as I worry that others will make assumptions that what I write in the moment, is where I am at in the larger picture.

In this way I will be writing in real time.


  1. i've read in so many books where water is used as an analogy to grief. we drown in our sorrow. it washes over us. it pulls us under.

    when i was in college i had joined the Sierra Club and went on a lot of hikes for trail clean ups and photography weeks, etc. i remember a guy who talked about all his travels. he was a white water rafter and he made the comment once, i have never forgotten it, that, while on the river, through the toughest parts, if you don't make a decision, the river will decide for you, and in that case, more often than not, it decides against you. water does not care for someone who is indecisive.

    i have always believed that when something happens that is beyond your control, like being let go from a job, or a death, that in allowing yourself to feel what comes, that by acknowledging what is happening and just going with it, you will survive and come out the other side, albeit with scars, but still - enduring and with honor. i am a people-watcher and i have seen so many others quietly and gracefully endure such pain. if they can. i can. i do not know if that qualifies as equanimity but being tired, it's as close as i can come.

    peace to you on this journey. thank you for being you.

  2. Though my love fought very hard, the water did take him (literally - he drowned). I am definitely drowning in my river, though I don't get to die, and that rather stinks. A life sentence of treading vicious water. I hear you dan - Matt and I practiced mindfulness and meditation, though our practices were different. I have a hard time with it now - mindfulness feeling so much like detachment and letting go, and I am so not ready to let go of anything. I feel like being in that Clear Mind state is saying this didn't matter, this doesn't matter, and I feel like he is being ripped away more. And then, of course, I recognize I am clutching and fear-based, rather than trusting love and god, and feel like a failure - and out goes the mindfulness. I feel like I lost all of my goodness, my grace, when he died, and I am left with monkey brain and crankiness and rage. That third path, the one that is clear mind AND connected with love - that is the one I want and don't know how the heck to turn myself to it. So thankful for those beams of peace that sometimes arrive. Courting them - making conditions ripe for them, that is what I am trying for today.

    Peace out.