Sitting With Equanimity

For a formal practice to cultivate equanimity, begin with some calming breaths or a mantra meditation. Once you feel calm, reflect on your desire for happiness and freedom from suffering, both for yourself and forothcrs. Con temp late your desire to serve the needs of others and to be compassionately engaged in the world. Acknowledge both the joy and the suffering that exist throughout the world—the good deeds and the evil ones. As you continue to breathe into your heart's center, acknowledge the necessity of balancing your desire to make positive change in the world with the reality that you cannot control the actions of others.

Bring to mind the image of someone for whomyou have no strong feelings one way or the other. With this person in your mind's eye, repeat the following phrases to yourself, coordinating with the out breath jfyoulike:

AN beings like yourself are responsible for their own actions.

Suffering or happiness is created through one's relationship to experience, not by experience itself.

Although I wish only the best for you, I know that your happiness or unhappiness depends on your actions, not on rny wishes for you.

May you not be caught in reactivity.

Feel free to use other similar, appropriate phrases of your own devising. After a few minutes, shift your attention to your benefactors, including teachers, friends, family and the unseen workers who keep the societal infrastructure working. Silently repeat the phrases to yourself as you contemplate these benefactors.

After several minutes, begin to reflect on your loved ones, directing the phrases to them, followed by the difficult people in your life. While feeling kindness, com passion, and joy for those we love comes more easily than it does for those with whom we have difficulty, it is often the opposite with equanimity. It's a lot easier to accept that those we dislike are responsible for their own happiness than it is for those we care for deeply, because we feel more attachment to them. Whatever your experience, simply note any reactivity and see if you can be cquanimous with your reactivity! Broaden your reach after a few minutes to include all beings everywhere throughout the world, and then finally contemplate equanimity in regard to yourself, noticing how taking responsibility for your own happiness and unhappiness can feel the hardest of all.

All beings, including myself, are responsible for their own actions.

Suffering or happiness is created through one's relationship to experience, not by experience itself.

Although I wish only the best for myself, I know that my happiness or unhappiness depends on my actions, not my wishes for myself. May I not be caught in reactivity.

When you cultivate metta (the friendly quality of kind regard), karuna {the compassionate response to the suffering of others), and mudita (the delight in the happiness and success of others), it is equanimity that ultimately allows you to truly expand your capacity to experi ence this kind of boundless love for those beyond your immediate circle of friends and family, opening to the infinite capacity ofyour heart to embrace all beings. +

Frank Jude Boccio ii a teacher of yoga and Zen Buddhism and the author of Mindfulness Yoga, Find him at niindfulnessyoga.net.

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