top of page

Equanimity Continued (Day 111)

Some other people talking about equanimity:

Moving Beyond Mindfulness: Defining Equanimity as an Outcome Measure in Meditation and Contemplative Research

“[The experience of meditation/equanimity] will give you the ability to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed by circumstances, good or bad. You will not fall into extreme states of mind: you will not get over-excited or depressed. Your attitude toward circumstances and events will be as if you were someone observing the mind, without being drawn away by circumstances…You are not preoccupied by what arises in the mind, nor does it cause you any distress. You are free from conceptuality or any form of objectifying. And so it really does help you, in allowing you to be free from being caught up in the play of emotions”

Dalai Lama

Equanimity is an even-minded mental state or dispositional tendency toward all experiences or objects, regardless of their affective valence (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) or source. Here we use the term even-mindedness in its common definition as a state of being calm, stable and composed. Equanimity also involves a level of impartiality (i.e, being not partial or biased), such that one can experience unpleasant thoughts or emotions without repressing, denying, judging, or having aversion for them. Similarly, in a state of equanimity one can have pleasant or rewarding experiences without becoming over-excited (e.g., to the point of mania or hypomania), or trying to prolong these experiences, or becoming addicted to them. Grabovac et al. (2011) describe equanimity as “approaching pleasant, unpleasant and neutral experiences with equal interest.” It should be noted that this goes against our habitual tendencies to seek the pleasant and stay away from the unpleasant. In the Buddhist perspective, both of these tendencies are forms of craving (tanha in Pali, literally “thirst”), which constitutes the origin of all forms of suffering and dissatisfaction (dukkha). In addition, it should be noted that the ideal form of equanimity embraced by Buddhism also includes having an equal attitude towards all beings, without the boundaries that we habitually draw between friends, strangers, and those we consider “difficult people,” in other words, “regarding all beings as equal in their right to have happiness and avoid suffering” and “treating them free from discrimination, without preferences and prejudices”. This aspect of equanimity can be cultivated with specific contemplative practice methods.

We would like to emphasize that our proposed definition of equanimity as an even-minded state is both (i) a mental attitude of openness, even-mindedness, and acceptance that one purposefully cultivates (e.g., during formal meditation practice and/or throughout daily activities), and (ii) an enduring state or trait that is the end result of this form of training. Indeed, the Buddhist tradition proposes that with practice, equanimity (along with the other “boundless qualities” of love, compassion and sympathetic joy) becomes effortless and need no longer be purposefully invoked.

36 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page