Equanimity involves a willingness to rise and greet everything as it is: good, bad, painful, pleasant... To be honest, I felt hesitant about rising to greet my newsfeed this morning. I mean, waking up to bad news is not my favourite way to start the day. And furthermore, if the news was bad, what could I DO about it?
I reminded myself that ignoring reality is not the best way to deal with it.
Reading the news is hard for many people, myself included. It confronts us with a lot of suffering. It often hurts my heart. When I read the news, I try to practice equanimity. This involves cultivating a balanced perspective. An equanimous news-reading session involves allowing my heart to hurt without condemning or hating anyone else in the process. Some days that takes a lot of work.
Equanimity ALSO means feeling pleasure without grasping and clinging at it, and staying present and receptive to neutral experiences too. It involves practicing an attitude of serene even-mindedness amidst the ever-changing tides. It is not neutrality or indifference. When we cultivate Upeksha, we're still moved by injustice in the world. We are still motivated to make things better, but our response is not borne from reactivity. It is borne from a state of even-minded openness that allows for a clear, balanced, considered response.
We care. We care deeply about our own and others’ suffering and when we choose a response, we choose wisely.
Intention/Affirmation: ‘I listen with openness and respond with thoughtfulness.'
Meditation: Mindful Breathing (see video). Mindfulness practices (Just being with things as they are) train us to be less reactive
On the Mat: Mountain Pose. Contemplate the still, strong presence of a mountain. Unmoved, unreactive - regardless of what happens around it: rain, sun, snow, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, etc
Off the Mat: When you notice yourself getting caught up in reactivity - remind yourself to respond with an even, open mind.
Mudita = Altruistic joy
Mudita is one of the four qualities of the heart (along with friendliness, compassion and equanimity) that yoga suggests we nourish and grow. You know mudita is at work when you find yourself feeling delighted about the good things happening in OTHER peoples’ lives.
Sharing yoga gets my mudita motor running like nothing else. Just last week, a 98-year old student of mine remarked that he loves coming to class because he loves the experience of moving in ways he’s never moved before (at 98!), and that he ‘felt years younger’ after class.
‘How young do you feel?” I asked.
“34” he said.
I LOVE that for him.
And that is why I teach yoga. When students come to class and experience joy, inspiration, pain relief or have a breakthrough, it gives me SO. MUCH. JOY. #mudita
I don’t know about you, but I want to feel 34 when I’m 98 too! And I want to keep finding ways to move that surprise and delight me! I want that – for him, for you, for me, and for everyone! May we ALL experience the joy of movement at every age!
Here are some ways to play with Mudita both on and off the mat:
Intention/Affirmation: I am happy for the success of others
Breath: Breath of Joy (see video)
On the Mat: Do a pose or a practice that gives you joy
Off the Mat: Tell someone how happy you are to see them thriving at life
The 8th and final limb of yoga... bliss
In a samadhi state, the distinction between self and other; subject and object falls away and you are left blissfully absorbed in the oneness of everything.
The word ‘Om’ represents the oneness of all existing things: the universe.
FUN FACTS FOR WORD NERDS: The word ‘universe’ comes from the prefix ‘uni’, meaning ‘one’, and the root word, ‘verse’, which means ‘word’. The universal sound is ‘Om’.
This sacred sound purportedly reveals itself to the inner ear of the enlightened yogi.
Here are some cool activities you can do to put yourself in touch with the oneness of everything:
Meditation: Chant 'OM'
Listen to NASA’s recording of the sound of the Universe.