Fully Present For Life

Equanimity is not a word in my vocabulary that I use often. I imagine that is true for most of us. It is however a word/thought/concept that does live and express itself in my internal dialogue.

noun: mental or emotional stability or composure,
especially under tension or strain;
calmness; equilibrium

Don’t we all experience moments throughout the day when we are desperately trying to find balance? Equanimity?

In Pali equanimity means  “upekkha, translated as ‘to look over.’ It refers to the equanimity that arises from the power of observation, the ability to see without being caught up in what we see. When well-developed, such power gives rise to a great sense of peace.” It includes the idea of a kind of ease that comes from being able to see the bigger picture. Perhaps “to see with patience” or with understanding. It means we do not have to take any or everything personally.

A slightly different interpretation is “to stand in the middle of all this”. Being centered and finding inner strength and stability. Balancing to keep ourselves upright, grounded.

balance

In Buddhist philosophy the concept of equanimity offers a buffer against or possibly protection from the “ ‘eight worldly winds’:  praise and blame, success and failure, pleasure and pain, fame and disrepute.” These are the things in life we can easily become preoccupied with, wrapped up in. When we become attached to or caught up in any of these, they often become the cause of our unhappiness, our dis-ease with ourselves and our life.

Equanimity can be fostered through honesty and sincerity, conviction and confidence, mindfulness, well-being (taking care of our body and mind), nurturing understanding/wisdom, insight and letting go of our reactive tendencies.

Finding and nurturing balance is important. It is one of the pillars of mental health. It is found in all religions. It is found in the healing arts and lines spiritual pathways. Equanimity is of value. It helps us to be healthy.

By developing and using the power of observation, and finding an inner balance, mindfulness evolves.  Equanimity becomes stronger and we find that we become more balanced in the middle of stress or turmoil. We begin to experience a kind of freedom and independence as we let go of the things that blind us, hold us down and keep us living in a fog. Unable to see and afraid to go forward. I read an article once that referenced “fog goggles”. Fog goggles are the practices and choices, thoughts and actions that help us see clearly. Fog goggles help us see through this fog in order to see with clarity how to become balanced. Fog goggles show us the way to equanimity.

Through equanimity we understand compassion and become fully present to life. We can look at things and situations in the world and bear witness to those things with an open heart. We can pause, and in balance and stability, without threat, anger or fear, we can look at our individual and collective relationship to those things and acknowledge them as being real. Instead of allowing the reactionary responses of fear, anger and hurt that bind our heart and results in us closing our heart, eyes and mind to hurt and suffering, we find we can be compassionate and be fully present to the suffering of others. And of ourselves. It is balanced engagement with life.  With equanimity we find we can be open to all of life with a kind of poise and serenity. Not only do we accept the beautiful things in life, but also the unpleasant parts of life. In a state of equanimity we cradle tenderly the loved as well as the unloved, pleasure as well as pain, the desirable as well as the undesirable, ourselves and “the other”. There is nothing we need meet with reluctance and hesitation or shun with revulsion, fear or hate, anger or indignation.

In striving towards being fully present for life we can find a peacefulness that seeps deeply into our core and releases us from loneliness, worry, fear, longing….and allows us to find sweet repose in being where we are.

Fully present for Life

*************

~~photo by me. Frabel Glass exhibit at Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh. Frabel Glass

 

 

Advertisements

Watching The Earth Move

It felt like driving towards a stage set dappled
with light filtered through colored gels.
The sun was setting and a blanket of subtly nuanced aubergine,
softening from shy purple to bold black,
covered the sky and land in false warmth.
“As I walk, as I walk the universe is walking with me.”

 

Like a tiny beacon from somewhere far away
a speck called Venus
and fleck called Mercury danced together with Earth.
It was a choreographed and timeless communion with the Universe.
Ever so slowly Venus and Mercury slipped lower
into the horizon.
“The universe is walking with me.”

 

This day faded and a new one began.
The sliver of the waning crescent moon
rose briefly before the sun was truly awake.
The locust tree, bare and with only a few rattling pods
dangling uncaringly,
stood silhouetted against the sherbet colors
of the waking day.
The journey of the earth,
unfelt,
was measured by the crescent moon
as it nestled in the crook of the locust branch.
As if resting in a nest.
And then, in the space of few breaths,
the thin sliver floated up into the sky.
Earth and moon moved on.
“In beauty it walks before me.”

 

Clouds appeared like pulled cotton
to soak up the colors of the dawning day.
Raspberry and orange strands melted away
as a deep periwinkle backdrop took over.
Three birds, small little moving black dots,
flew in front of the moon
as if to say “Follow us! This way!”
One fell behind for a moment then turned
and banked to return
to her small assemblage of cohorts.
“In beauty it walks behind me.”

 

The soft hills that cradled Springwater
slept under a puffy quilt
of snow-white and eider-down gray.
As the periwinkle sky changed yet again,
farms, fields, trees, houses, roads and cars came into focus.
Trees stood at attention, dark against the ancient light.
The moon was gone.
“In beauty it walks below me.”

 

All that remained to measure the movement of the earth
was the path of the sun.
Unfaltering, she seemed to rise from the depths
of someplace else,
and then
in silent meditation she traveled along a private path
across the sky.
“In beauty it walks above me.”


Once again, the sun reached the horizon and began to sink
back to that place we can never go.
Like a performer in Cirque de Soleil,
she left, swirling whimsical
bubble gum pink and baby blue
ribbons throughout the sky.
“Goodbye!” she waved. “See you again soon!!”

Her dance took away the breath of a young man
who was uncontrollably stopped in his tracks
and forced, by sheer wonder,
to give witness this beauty.
His face could not hide
the overwhelming emotion
of awe and reverence.
He sat.
All he could do was to behold,
in this one fleeting moment,
the exquisiteness
in this infinitesimal fragment of the universe.
“Beauty is on every side. As I walk, I walk in Beauty.”

 

Observations from the Jan. 16-19, 2015 retreat at Springwater Center for Meditative Inquiry, Springwater NY. Sentences in quotes are from a section of one of the many interpretations/translations of the 9 Day Navajo Night Chant. The young man is named Jonathan.