Photo credit: Erik O. Cathcart
Photo credit: Erik O. Cathcart

At a recent workshop at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, I coined a new phrase: equanimity equity (EE). EE is the rationale for practice. The more we practice, the more equanimity we have in the bank. When difficulty hits, we can draw on that balance to handle the situation without being overtaken by reactivity.

A lack of reactivity, after all, is the aim of mindfulness practices. Such reactivity colors every aspect of our being and that “noise” keeps us from experiencing the world as it is with an open and loving heart.

For those of us blessed with the natural countenance of a Buddha, equanimity is always at your disposal. For those of us not blessed (which is pretty much everyone, including Siddhartha Guatama before and after he was the Buddha), then practicing is required.

The mind is a powerful force and shaped by a lifetime of conditioning. Intention, will, and commitment are valuable attributes but usually not sufficient to pull off the feat of equanimity in any given moment.

Intellectually, I understand the value of non-reactivity. My familiarity with mindfulness and Buddhism spans decades now. However, despite that understanding, I find that the more I practice, the more I can actually do it.

Depictions of the Buddha portray him as immune to reactivity–absolutely imperturbable. This may be myth. While the Buddha was supremely non-reactive, there are instances of frustration presented in the sutras. He, like all of us, was a human being, subject to the laws of physics and the demands of the moment.

I keep practicing, not to reach some unreachable place beyond reactivity, but for the sake of practice itself and to keep myself engaged in a conversation with equanimity. The longer you live in a home, the more equity you acquire through paying your mortgage. Similarly, my ongoing practice is equity in my mind–to bias the probability of equanimity arising in the next moment and all the moments to come.

 

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