Through life’s many challenges, inviting equanimity into the foreground of your home practice can have remarkable results. With equanimity, true balance can be restored in all aspects of our lives.
What Is Equanimity?
Equanimity is one of the primary goals of yoga. It is the practice of resilience: unwavering balance in the face of difficult situations and life’s hardships.
Equanimity means accepting both good and bad with a state of calm and even mindedness. It’s a sense of all things being equal—a balanced approach of supporting others and being supported by others. It encourages creative cooperation. Equanimity means to see others as equals, with sensitivity and a deep respect for others’ choices.
Whatever chaos might be swirling around us, equanimity allows us to stand in the middle with a steadiness of mind and a compassionate heart, holding joy and sorrow in perfect balance. With perseverance we can respond effectively to all situations with openness, harmony, and tranquility.
How Do We Cultivate Equanimity In Our Yoga Practice?
“Equanimity of mind is Yoga. Do everything centered in that equanimity and you will enjoy a undisturbed mind in success or failure.” -Bhagavad Gita 2.48
Equanimity teaches us how to maintain clarity in the mind, and kindness and compassion within the heart. As yogis we can strive for a state of inner balance in all situations of life. Our life experiences both good and bad are necessary to the other.
Steps to Equanimity
Step 1. Balance Your Mind
In times of struggle sit quietly.
Let your mind and heart REST.
Meditate on your mind becoming more quiet.
Let your body find slower deeper breaths.
LISTEN and BE MORE PRESENT.
Listen to whatever is arising—emotions, sensations—sensing the feelings that are there.
Be still. Sit in complete stillness.
Let everything be at peace as you listen to your breath…
Step 2. Balance Your Heart
Attune to the ebb and flow of your breath.
Bathe the lungs with breath.
Attune to your HEART SPACE.
Rest in your heart, with unconditional love, connecting to love and compassion.
Balance giving with receiving.
Take time to recognize the harmony and natural balance that occurs effortlessly in the world.
Awareness: A loving presence within the body that has no words, and sensing that presence radiating in the atmosphere around you with an interconnectedness to all things.
Enjoy the beauty, the mystery that you reclaim by taking a pause, a rest.
Repeat this affirmation if it is helpful.
Whatever arises, may this serve in the awakening of my heart: To see the good in all things.
Let everything be at peace.
With this open peaceful heart, may the divine arise within you.
Step 3. Balance Your Spirit
Trust in the wisdom of source.
Honor the unknown.
Nothing is permanent. Appreciate that all things arise and pass away. You won’t feel this way forever.
Trust in the unfolding of this life force, knowing each exquisite experience will be unique and different.
Spirit brings a subtle balance and beauty to your life.
Remain still in your mind and heart as you move forward into your asana practice.
Step 4. Balance Your Movements
In your home yoga practice what can you teach yourself about finding equanimity in particular poses?
Whatever asana (pose) you choose, feel and listen to what is arising inside your own body, mind, and heart. If a pose holds tension, can you soften and learn how to balance the energy there? Are you going too easy? Too hard? Can you relax into challenging poses?
Asana practice offers a chance to see your attachment to results. As your body moves, how do you respond? Note any reactivity. Are you active or resting as needed? This is the art of balancing.
Equanimity is balancing the shift from one form to the next.
Can you widen your view to include equanimity into postures of your life? To balance the moment to moment experiences, the lessons with respect and love? To see the good in every situation, in every person?
As we let go of preconceived ideas of how something should or shouldn't be, we learn to find a steadiness of mind, a wise interaction that allows us to observe and respond appropriately.
Return to stillness.
Step 5. Balance Your Communication & Speech
Pay attention to how you speak, how you share in what you feel and believe. On our mats we find the qualities of truth, strength, and empathy. As we travel through life (our outer practice) we are unable to control what happens in our lives and the world around us.
In the midst of conflict how do we communicate? Can we adapt? What is our belief about that situation? What lies under that? Fear? Ignorance?
Are we calm or reactive? Is there a better way?
Pay more attention to words. Words can harm or heal. With a sense of equanimity you might quiet the mind, attune to your heart, and respond to aversion with compassion and wellbeing for all people.
Speak with loving kindness for yourself, for your loved ones, and for the world.
Step 6. Balance Your Life
As you apply equanimity in your daily life, being balanced doesn’t mean you won't stumble. Our actions are the ground on which we stand. All beings are responsible for their own actions and the consequences of those actions. Our experiences and our reactions constantly present us with questions and challenges.
Equanimity is a way of being inside and out. We can practice equanimity in every situation—within ourselves and with others—by coming back to the starting place. Going inside. Stilling your mind and body. Sitting with the moment.
Whatever situations arise, may they serve in the awakening of the heart. With each step, like a beautiful dancer, we find our balance point. Grounded. More engaged in the flow of life. We call upon our creativity to respond in a new way, our heart space open and thoughtful to all being and one moment no less important than the next. The dance never ends.
We receive the gifts of equanimity whether messy or extraordinary.