I had the luxury of taking a 10-day Vipassana meditation course last April and the effects are far greater than I could've imagined. While I can't go into the particular details of my experience, or the course itself (it's important for you to have your own experience), there's one thing I took away that's been a great tool in helping me to remain balanced in my day-to-day life. That tool is Upekkha.
Upekkha is a Pali word that means to be equanimous, to have no craving or aversion knowing that all things will eventually pass, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant. Growing up, I always heard about equanimity, about having no desires or strong emotions, but not once did anyone show me how (yes, we all know that we shouldn't get angry or become annoyed, but how?!) Well, Vipassana showed me the how.
Sitting with my thoughts and emotions for 10 days without intrusion left me no option but to see and understand how. While I'm still learning to use this tool successfully, having the experience of how quickly thoughts, feelings, and mindsets change truly transformed the way I look at things, and I believe it has made all of the difference in my daily peace of mind.
Here are some tips I've learned to help you become more equanimous with life:
- This Too Shall Pass. Think about the last time you felt pain, anger, joy or excitement. Did it last indefinitely? A week? A day? An hour? Regardless of how long you felt the emotion, the fact is it didn't last. It couldn't because all things are susceptible to change. Being able to experience this fully for 10 days helped me to better understand this vital truth. So no matter what you're going through, try to remind yourself that it will pass. It has to. Somethings may take longer than others, but eventually, it too shall pass. I wear a MantraBand to help me remember this truth because we all know how easy it can be to forget in the heat of the moment!
- Experience Things as They Are. Try to experience things as they are, rather than how you want them to be. Some of our greatest suffering comes from our resistance to experiencing life as it is. If you feel cold or pain, for instance, allow yourself to feel it fully. Observe how your body reacts and responds. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to embrace the moment as it is. How does it feel? Is it still as unpleasant or unbearable? Has it become easier? Allow yourself to fully experience whatever you are going through without needing it to be any different. Observe what happens as you take this approach. The results may surprise you ;)
- Be the Observer. Be the observer of your life, your thoughts, your emotions. Learn to see without getting caught by what you see. Simply observe. If you notice thoughts or feelings you don't like, try not to fight or resist them. Simply notice that they are there and allow them to be, knowing that you are not your thoughts (or your emotions). By not taking our thoughts personally, we're more likely to be undisturbed by them, and they too shall pass through us more easily with time.
- Be Honest with Yourself. Be mindful of when you're not equanimous and of the things that make you feel imbalanced. Know what disturbs your peace of mind, for it is this awareness that helps us learn how to find balance. Understand that there will always be hardships, forks in the road, or even just angry people who may take their frustrations out on you. It's okay. Life isn't supposed to be free of outside disturbances. We cannot control what occurs outside of us, but with practice and awareness, we can learn to control what happens inside of us. Remember this. Remind yourself of this often, especially in difficult situations. The more you practice, the easier it will become.
- Be Like Water. Water doesn't resist or judge or ask why me. It simply flows with life, taking the shape of whatever form it's given, moving endlessly with the tides. When you find yourself in a situation that's out of your control or difficult to deal with, picture yourself flowing as water would, going everywhere and embracing everything. Surrender to whatever you are experiencing. Release your resistance and try working with it rather than against it. Allow yourself to flow.
Love + Light,