The Concept of Equanimity

“The Mindfulness Meditation System” as conveyed by Dr. Antonio Sieira

The origin of the word equanimity is from Latin roots meaning “even” and “mind”. The circuitry of our brains is such that it continually causes us to react. Practicing equanimity provides our brain with a “circuit breaker”! With equanimity, circumstances and situations have only “characteristics” and not “demands”. This does not mean that you become apathetic or indifferent. When you are “equanimous” you do not “anxiously’ seek enjoyable experiences nor do you avoid disagreeable ones. Instead you create a “space” around experiences which acts as a buffer between you and the reactive feelings associated with the experiences.
Complete equanimity is an uncommon state for both the mind and the brain. The brain is simply not naturally wired for equanimity, and our mind is by nature reactive. However a basic sense of equanimity can be developed with practice while meditating and practice in every day life. This requires us to have an understanding of the fleeting nature of all experiences. In other words, we must realize and accept that nothing is “forever” in life. It also requires that we remind our self of, and hence practice being “equanimous”, meaning that we strive to consciously free our self of overreacting to life’s circumstances.

Through meditation practice your mind grows steadier. Your brain is not wired to stay engaged with “neutral” stimuli. Note how your mind attempts to draw your attention in a constant flow of associative thoughts throughout your day! It takes practice and conscious effort to sustain “equanimous” attention!
Buddhism has a metaphor for the various conditions that we experience in life. This metaphor refers to these conditions as the “Eight Worldly Winds”: Pleasure and pain, praise and blame, gain and loss, fame and ill repute. As you practice mindfulness meditation and develop greater equanimity, these “Eight Worldly Winds” have less of an effect on your mind, thus rendering happiness that becomes increasingly unconditional! In other words, you find that your happiness is not based on “catching” a “pleasant breeze” as opposed to a “stormy one”!