The Art of Equanimity

Siddhartha Gautama (the most recent of the Buddhas – or enlightened beings) is an embodiment of equanimity

There is a real art to living, one that could be described through many words. If I had to choose just one, however, it would be equanimity. While equanimity has often in my mind resembled a modest, slender, bespectacled older man with suspenders and an unexpressive face, it is actually much deeper than that.

Equanimity, to me, is about consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude and compassion toward the unique set of circumstances that comprise the unfolding of one’s life. Being able to find the gift in whatever kind of present is given, moment by moment, each and every day. To be able to approach every person, moment and experience as a teacher, whether this teacher may come in the form of a political enemy, a serious illness or simply someone cutting you off in traffic. We don’t get to decide everything that happens to us. But we do have full control and authorship over how we react, or perhaps better yet, respond, to the unfolding of our lives. Continue reading

Life is Like a Ferris Wheel

“Gate gate paragate parasangate bodhi swaha,” we chanted slowly in a December yoga class in New York City. The Heart Sutra. It translates:

‘Gone gone real gone beyond even the most gone, only in going that gone is there awakening.’

The focus of the month was Presence. I remember lying on my mat during shavasana (final relaxation), learning that this was really a practice of dying. Going. Going. Gone.

My teacher shared how:

“Our beloved teacher Swami Nirmalananda often reminded us to ‘Practice dying every day of your life and when the time for your death arrives you will be ready for the great samadhi.’”

Samadhi is the state of bliss that all the other steps of yoga lead to. How can preparing for death lead to bliss, I wondered.

Next thing I knew, I found myself with my mentor.  Continue reading