Thursday, April 27, 2006

13 THOUGHTS ON EQUANIMITY


Java Kai, Kapa'a (Kauai), originally uploaded by dgans.

1. Equanimity doesn't know the difference between good news and bad news. They both have the potential to disrupt balance.

2. The past weeks have been full of exciting developments; there's been much to toast and celebrate. I've been happy, thrilled one day--and then the next day moody and petulant. Why? I’m getting what I want, right? Ah, the mysteries of Equanimity...

2. As yogis and dancers know, equanimity begins in the physical. Is it possible to have cerebral or emotional balance without first developing the physical side?

3. Equanimity is a "light" virtue. Wear it too heavily, push too hard to attain it, and you lose it.

4. In yoga, when practicing the tree, you focus on one point in front of you to keep your equilibrium. It works in life situations as well.

5. I need to be a tree more often.

6. Sometimes I think about what I'm going to say while other people are talking. That disrupts the equanimity of speech, the rightful balance between listening and speaking.

7. After two weeks of concerted effort, I got a little better at this. In return, I not only heard more, I felt more, I experienced more compassion.

7. Sometimes I sit at my desk too much. I forget to clean the house. I forget to go to the grocery store, or weed the garden, or walk down the street in the sunlight. Not good for equanimity.

8. I now have a kitchen timer next to my
computer. If I sit and write, write and sit too long, it goes off: bzzzz! Time to get up and see the day!

9. I waitressed a shift this week. It reminded me of the lessons in equanimity I've learned through my long career. There is the balance needed to hold a tray, to keep the pace of a meal flowing smoothly, but also the balance between serving, and accepting and respecting the service of others.

10. Some of the people I was waiting on didn't care about equanimity. They wanted what they wanted--now!

11. I mentally promised myself that I would never be one of those people who see what they want so vividly that they stop seeing anything else.

12. Drinking wine, as pleasant as it might be, is not always conducive to equanimity. Every few months I seem to be reminded of this again.

13. I found this quote from the little book Benedict's Way, which seems to describe true equanimity:

"No matter what kind of ruins you stand in, keep moving, keep doing what you must do, keep showing up every day."

Next week: My bugaboo--and Ben's: Order

26 comments:

TDharma said...

ah, nice post. I do find that one can develop equanimity in the mind/heart even if the body is 'off.' In fact, developing it mind-fully helps cope with the physical issues.

It just plain feels better to live in equanimity.

Thank you for a great post -- I've been eagerly anticipating it. You did not dissapoint!

Sky said...

ah...patry, this post is just perfect for me right now! thank you.

my body is needing equanimity and the pain is telling me so! i need yoga. why do i stop practicing this when i know how much it helps me? i need to stretch fully - need balance in my frame right now.

about listening...i am always into the next moment and diluting the present one this way. a good "heads up" for me. it is so disrespectful for me to do this to others and to myself. thanks!

Patry Francis said...

tdharma: Interesting perspective on the physical issues--that it doesn't matter where balance begins, it spreads to all parts of our being.

sky: I think you're a lot like me. Spring ahead; fall back. It's a recurrent pattern.

Lorna said...

equanimity is, I think, over-rated and too often proferred as a disguise for apathy. give me real outrage and imbalance any day. That is my knee-jerk, totally unequanimitous reaction

rdl said...

Liked this one alot and I especially liked walking in the sunlight in boston with you too.

Patry Francis said...

Lorna: Interesting perspective, but I still think outrage is more effective when tempered by equanimity.

rdl: and the cupie dolls!

MB said...

A very thought-provoking post, Patry. I take tdharma's point well. But I also think that, when one can, maintaining the body balance facilitates equanimity. Good food for thought for me.

Suzanne said...

I love that quote!

mar said...

wow, nice post!

Living Part Deux said...

SO much to chew on; a veritable feast. I especially liked your second number 7 entry. There I was, staring right back at myself from the computer screen - and there was the answer in number 8. Perfect idea! My favorite line: "but also the balance between serving, and at some later time, accepting and respecting the service of others." So true. I am inspired to better practice acute awareness of service - when I am sometimes preoccupied and do not extend the respect and acknowledgement that service deserves. Thank you.

pohanginapete said...

1. I think equanimity does know the difference between extremely good and extremely bad news — if it didn't, it wouldn't be equanimity, it'd be bloodless detachment.

2. Lorna has a good point, although apathy is not equanimity, even if claimed as such. One of the arts of being at home in yourself, I think, is balancing equanimity and passion without diminishing either. Succeed in that and the result is pure joy.

Marvellous, Patry. I'm so encouraged to hear about real efforts rather than just talk. It's that actions and words thing.

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zhoen said...

Just keep showing up, every day.


ok.

Patry Francis said...

mb: Yes, I think tdharma points to another aspect of equanimity. When one part of the spirit/body/mind equation is weak or injured, balance can be found by strenthening another part.

Suzanne: It's a great little book.

Mar: Thanks for your visit and your comment!

Rebekah: I'll be interested to hear more about your adventures with the kitchen timer. (Mine's about to go off any minute.)

Pohanginapete: two marvelous points. My first thought was not well-expressed. What I was trying to say is that good news can disrupt sleep and the ability to focus as much (or almost as much) as bad news. But the way I phrased it, I'm not surprised that Lorna thought I was promoting apathy.

I like your equation far better: passion + equanimity = pure joy.

Patry Francis said...

zhoen: just noticed your little ok at the bottom of your comment. For me, just showing up and being present at my own life can be a challenge, but after reading so many of your diverse and beautiful posts, it seems like you're already there.

colleen said...

I love the idea of a timer at my desk...I think. I do get very stiff...and keep telling myself....just a few more minutes...just a few more minutes.

I just said to my husband something like this: Something is changing. Now that I work at home, I don't rest and relax at home very well. I have to go out to rest and relax and then come back home to work.

Isn't that partly what traditional jobs are all about?

Mary said...

You don't know how much I needed to read this post Patry :-). And I love the tree asana too.

And I have started to use a timer to limit time at the computer ... it's remarkably effective.

Equanimity: I was told that an aircraft on automatic pilot never flies in a direct line between point A and point B, it is always flying off route either to the right or to the left. The automatic pilot is constantly pulling it back on course.

I see parallels with equanimity - the self-correcting mechanism that brings me back time after time to the centre. It is an active not a static state.

The quote is wonderful.

Patry Francis said...

Colleen: Interesting thought on the function of traditional jobs. It seems true for me. Now that I don't waitress much any more, I find it to be a welcome diversion--almost, but not quite, relaxing.

mary: my timer is one of my favorite toys. Love your story about the aircraft on auto pilot. If only If had such a device implanted in my brain...

kate said...

. . . this was a lovely post . . . little peeks into a life :) I especially resonated with the wine one - I have been rediscovering the balance with this too . . . and with beer . . . and with margaritas . . . the hunger for Release and Peace goes on and on . . thereby cementing its Not There . . . I could really use a corona with lime right about now :) heh. :)

lisa said...

5, me too.

And W. See, he's still trying to be a Bush that is his problem.

Patry Francis said...

kate: sometime we'll have to get together and have a corona with lime together. That would surely help my equanimity.

lisa: thanks for a great big belly laugh. That's good for the equanimity, too!

Barry Leiba said...

My equanimity was seriously derailed recently — ironically, by someone for whom equanimity is particularly central. I've tried, for the last couple of months, to get it back, and I can't yet. The lack is upsetting, and I'm making bad decisions and going in bad directions as a result.

I shift in and out. I feel right, and centered some times, but it soon slips back off the rails.

Maybe I should plan a pilgrimage to that cafe in Kauai, where I can buy some. Alas, should I do it would no doubt not be on special that day. Well, OK; I'll wait, and it'll come back around.

I mentally promised myself that I would never be one of those people who see what they want so vividly that they stop seeing anything else.

Aye, there be too many of those. I like to see what others in my life want, and I find that when I focus on that I get what I need too.

Drinking wine, as pleasant as it might be, is not always conducive to equanimity.

But it often is, if it's a nice red and one stops at an appropriate point. And when wine doesn't work, tea's usually right.

Barry Leiba said...

Lorna said --> equanimity is, I think, over-rated and too often proferred as a disguise for apathy. give me real outrage and imbalance any day.

Some may, indeed, use equanimity to mean apathy, but when properly applied it doesn't mean that one doesn't feel or care — rather, that one's mind is centered, so that one can approach things from a strong emotional stance.

Consider Fudd's first law of opposition: "If you push on something hard enough, it will fall over." Now imagine someone standing with his feet together and most of his weight on his left foot. It takes little push from the right to topple him ("Aw, he's no fun, he fell right over!").

But if one stands with one's feet slightly apart, weight centered, one has a strong stance, and it takes much more to topple him. Equanimity's the equivalent of that for emotion, temperament, state of mind. It doesn't mean that one can't feel outrage, or sadness... or joy and elation. Only that one has a strong, centered state of mind whence to go there.

Does that make sense?

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