Equanimity, Suffering, and Resilience
It is said that equanimity (Pali – upekkha), the seventh factor of enlightenment and the tenth perfection, is an end-product of life-long personal practice in meditation and/or meditative yoga. It is about “walking the walk.” Some practitioners note that equanimity is the foundation for other helpful states of mind and body. It builds on loving kindness, compassion, generosity and other positive human traits and behaviors. It is called an anchor, an anchor that protects us from the random ups and downs of samsaric life. Equanimity helps us to “see” more clearly, thus enabling us to respond to challenging causes and conditions without reactive emotional dysregulation. Ultimately, being in longer periods of equanimity also frees our minds, hearts, and souls from afflictive emotions and experiences. We may learn to handle pain, blame, and loss in a more balanced manner, and we may learn not to attach too strongly to pleasure, praise, and personal benefits. Yes, it is a strong sign of a mature person in a matter practice; it signifies emotional and spiritual maturity. It is the best “Way.”
Today our nation and the world appear to be in a chaotic downward spiral, with so many serious problem to solve and so few minds working together to solve them. In some ways the end product of this turmoil, fear, and hatred becomes another form of deep human loss – very significant loss. I suggest that to be in your best possible position to take on the losses we face, we need to become experts in pursuing mindful Right Action. To do so, we must be regular practitioners of mindfulness – mindfulness in its more structured forms. We must live it! This process includes our own self-care: regular meditation and/or yoga, exercise, healthy diet, healthy sleep, and healthy relationships. With the skills and strengths that come from such a regimen of self-care, we are better prepared to adapt, cope, and respond well to emotionally challenging causes, conditions, and situations. Be strong in your contemplative mindfulness; find and use your personal inner strengths; and, follow your deep values as well as personal aspirations. Remain active in your pursuit of equanimity, emotional stability, resilience, and become a much happier person. Part of this process of renewal is to give generously to others. Try not to forget this fact.
It is up to you! Stay the same, or become healthier and happier. One wonderful way to do these great things is to practice mindfulness on a regular basis – any form of mindfulness – meditation, yoga, qigong, tai chi, forest bathing with walking meditation, etc. In their new book, C. Feldman and W. Kuyken remind us that mindfulness practice brings us confluence and convergence with all worldly experiences. Mindfulness is a way of life, a way to experience being in all its pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant realities. Their work integrates fully modern clinical psychology and the ancient wisdom of Buddhist psychology. The process echoes The Four Noble Truths: What causes human suffering? Is there a way to end human suffering? What role does mindfulness, especially meditation play in this process? What makes up the path to transformation from suffering to happiness?
I hope these words are helpful to you, and that you actively pursue equanimity for yourself. Review The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path to begin your journey to transformation.
For more information refer to Feldman, C. and Kuyken, W. (2019). Mindfulness: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology. New York: Guilford Publications.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont and the Home of The Monkton Sangha
Author of Mindful Happiness