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Equanimity

The term equanimity was used quite often in my yoga teacher training.  It was often talked about as staying in the moment.  It a practice to help us be more calm under pressure.  When holding a challenging pose for a long time, we focus on our breath.  Repeating this in class then helps us remain more calm when we are stuck in traffic, or when our pipes freeze in -60 degree wind chills.  I have found yoga does help with stress in this way.  Many people equate equanimity with non feeling.  It is more complex and I’ve often had trouble explaining it.

Just this week in my Daily Good email Shinzen Young wrote about it this way “Equanimity comes from the Latin word aequus meaning balanced, and animus meaning spirit or internal state.” The article explained it not suppression where we cope by stuffing feelings down or denying them.  I was raised to be stoic and can still fall into that pattern.  It is also not identification where we can hold onto something inappropriately.  Been there done that.  He states “Between suppression on one side and identification on the other lies a third possibility, the balanced state of non-self-interference…equanimity.”  For a link to the full article click here

So coming back to the challenging yoga pose like boat pose, we don’t ignore our feelings or get angry about floating our boat, we simply notice our feelings in the pose without judgement.  This is not easy for most of us but can be developed over time.  I start every yoga class and my own meditation with grounding.  I sit quietly just noticing what supports me the floor, chair or mat.  I listen to sounds with out trying to make up stories about what I hear. I focus on my breath bringing a sense of calm and balance.  Even spending five minutes a day noticing things and your feelings without judgement can help build equanimity.