Practices for Equanimity

The autumn equinox is a time when the light and the dark are in equal measure; some refer to this time as a balancing of the light and the dark, the night and the day.

However, balance is a fragile and precarious place. Any person who has ever attempted Vrksasana, or ‘Tree Pose’ in yoga will be able to tell you that ‘balance’ is only the result of perpetual adjustments- the continual micro movements necessary to make to maintain the one-legged balance. The ‘balance’ is in the way the inhale and the exhale exchange, it is in the shifting of weight in the standing leg to account for this upper body movement and it is in the counterweighting of the hips to accommodate the natural fluctuations of energetic pulses up the spine. To be in balance is to be in constant adjustment. 

And yet, ‘work-life balance’ has been projected on society as an achievable goal, and individuals tend to admonish themselves if they are unable to reach it. They are not able to reach it because it does not exist.

So, what if, instead of aiming for balance, we aim for equanimity. This is a place of composure, stability, and spaciousness in times of flux. 

Below I am sharing two practices for equanimity. The first is a physical practice related to the breath, and the second is a journaling practice to deepen the learnings. It is best if the practices are done in order- the physical preceding the written.

 

 

Physical Practice. 

1) Take a few moments of pause, sitting comfortably. As you sit, begin to bring some awareness to your breath. Trace your breath for a few rounds, observing the natural flow of the inhale and the exhale.

2) Once you have tuned into this pace of breath, invite the qualities of equanimity into your breath. Can your breath be more composed? Can your breath be steadier? How about more spacious? Notice how your breath alters when you invite in these equalising questions.

3) With your next few breaths begin to bring a steady and equal exchange of breath between the inhale and the exhale. You can introduce a count of breath to support you- inhaling for the count of 3, then exhaling for the count of 3. Slowly extend this count, increasing the length of the inhale and the exhale until you reach the count of 6. Continue this steady, balanced and spacious breath for a few minutes.

4) After a few minutes release the count of breath and allow your breathing to fall back to its regular rhythm. Notice the feelings and sensations within the body. 

 

Journaling Practice

5) Within this quiet space of contemplation, journal your responses to the following questions:

What does equanimity feel like for me?

Where do I need to create more space in my life?

What parts of my life are seeking composure?

What one thing can I do today to honour this desire for composure, space and stability?

What parts of my life are seeking stability?

What small adjustments can I make to my day or week to create equanimity within all elements of my life?