Mindfulness practice consists of cultivating awareness with equanimity in each moment. We have discussed awareness practice in a previous blog; I will now talk about equanimity.

 The word equanimity means “equal-mindedness;” it means accepting each experience just as it is. It is welcoming and “making friends” with every experience. It is the practice of nonresistance and nongrasping. Equanimity means making no demands that our present moment experience be other that what it is.

 Equanimity is an intention, not an expectation. The moment we expect to have equanimity we have destroyed it! Expectations are goal-oriented and future-directed. Intention is practiced in each moment, without attachment to the future.

One of the best ways to begin equanimity practice is to let go of the judgments and stories about our life experiences and allow life to unfold naturally. Even if we find that resistance or grasping arises we can notice this without judging it or creating a story about it. We simply bring a gentle acceptance to each experience in our life, moment by moment.

Equanimity does not mean suppressing our feelings or trying to live up to some Buddha-like image. We allow everything to arise naturally without suppression and without creating a story about the experience. Equanimity means being completely honest: not suppressing anything and not adding anything to each experience.

Equanimity practice applies to every subjective, internal experience; it does not necessarily apply to every objective experience. For example, if we are ill, equanimity would mean accepting the sensations, the emotions and thoughts that might arise in conjunction with the illness, but it does not preclude the option of getting medical or therapeutic treatment for the ailment. We can fully accept our subjective experiences and then deal wisely with objective conditions.

Another example is if we have a colleague or neighbor who is abusive in their words or behavior. Equanimity practice would mean accepting each subjective response that we have (including anger) and objectively responding to the situation in a compassionate way that works for both of us. In fact we can deal with the situation wisely and compassionately only if we are first able to accept our subjective experiences with equanimity. If we respond to the other person from own unacknowledged pain and suffering then we will simply create more antagonism and suffering for both of us.

Equanimity allows access to the wisdom and compassion that lies within each of us. This innate wisdom and compassion can be blocked by craving, resistance and repressed emotions. With equanimity practice we activate these essential qualities and we align ourselves with the universal flow of life that pulsates through all living beings and directs the evolution of life itself. Some would call this the Tao. In the Tao Te Ching it is written:

The Tao of heaven does not strive, and yet it overcomes.

It does not speak and yet it is answered.

It does not ask, yet it is supplied with all its needs.

It seems at ease, and yet it follows a plan. [1]


[1] Lao Tsu. (New York: Random House, 1972), Translated by Gia-Fu Eng and Jane English, #73