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who me, equanimous?

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How is it, I said as we sat in the café’s morning sun, that I pay such attention to bad days — days when things aren’t going my way — but barely comment on days when everything’s more or less okay, when nobody get on my nerves, and my mood’s on the upswing? From time to time you’ve written about not believing your good fortune, my friend replied, but yes, on the whole, good days get pretty much taken for granted.

I heard the word equanimous for the first time 15 years ago while participating in the first of several 10-day Vipassana retreats taught (via audio and video recordings) by S.N. Goenka. It sounded foreign and had many syllables; the best I could make out from the evening lecture was that if you practice equanimity (some kind of non-attachment) to the good and bad things in life you’d reach contentment. A quick etymology check reveals that equanimity comes from Latin aequus “even” and animus “mind, spirit.” Even mind, a certain imperturbability, regarding what comes my way; not preferring one over the other; clinging to neither good nor bad.

Interesting practice! Come to think of it, isn’t that the essence of meditation: observing thoughts, emotions, feelings, and sensations arise and fall away; bringing attention to the neutral breath and watching all that stuff float by — like an angler at the river bank, letting flotsam be flotsam.

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2 responses »

  1. thank-you for that! I just had an experience that makes this definition of Equanimity just what I needed to hear.

  2. amazing isn’t it… i like that you do the etymological research p. even spirit. one of my teachers refers to loving what is, love reality because it is just easier than fighting it… not so easy to do mind you, as i find the judgments in my mind have to line up and take numbers sometimes.

    yours truly, just floating with the flotsam…


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