Equanimity

Equanimity

Equanimity refers to a state of being calm and balanced, especially in the midst of difficulty.

In Buddhism, equanimity (in Pali, upekkha; in Sanskrit, upeksha) is one of the Four Immeasurables or four great virtues that the Buddha taught his disciples to cultivate.

  • compassion

  • loving kindness

  • sympathetic joy

  • equanimity

 

But is being calm and balanced all there is to equanimity?

And how does one develop equanimity?

Laughing Raven of Pixabay. Used With Permission.

Laughing Raven of Pixabay. Used With Permission.

Thich Nhat Hanh says (in The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, p. 161) that the Sanskrit word upekshameans “equanimity, nonattachment, nondiscrimination, even-mindedness, or letting go. Upa means ‘over,’ and iksh means ‘to look.’ You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other.”

Standing in the Middle

Another Pali word that is translated into English as “equanimity” is tatramajjhattata, which means “to stand in the middle.” Gil Fronsdal says this “standing in the middle” refers to a balance that comes from inner stability; remaining centered when surrounded by turmoil.

We are constantly being pulled in one direction or another by things or conditions we either want or hope to avoid. These include praise and blame, pleasure and pain, success and failure, gain and loss. The wise person, accepts all without approval or disapproval.¹ – The Buddha

 

Cultivating Equanimity 

In her book Comfortable with Uncertainty, Tibetan Kagyu teacher Pema Chodron said, “To cultivate equanimity we practice catching ourselves when we feel attraction or aversion, before it hardens into grasping or negativity.”

This, of course, connects to mindfulness. The Buddha taught that there are four frames of reference in mindfulness:

1. Mindfulness of body (kayasati).
2. Mindfulness of feelings or sensations (vedanasati).
3. Mindfulness of mind or mental processes (cittasati).
4. Mindfulness of mental objects or qualities (dhammasati).

Here we have a really good example of working with mindfulness of feelings and mental processes. People who are not-mindful are perpetually being jerked around by their emotions and biases. But with mindfulness, you recognize and acknowledge feelings without letting them control you.
 
Pema Chodron says that when feelings of attraction or aversion arise, we can “use our biases as stepping-stones for connecting with the confusion of others.” When we become intimate with and accepting of own feelings, we see more clearly how everyone gets hooked by their hopes and fears. From this, “a bigger perspective can emerge.”
 
Thich Nhat Hanh says that Buddhist equanimity includes the ability to see everyone as equal. “We shed all discrimination and prejudice, and remove all boundaries between ourselves and others,” he writes. “In a conflict, even though we are deeply concerned, we remain impartial, able to love and to understand both sides. [The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, p. 162].” I confess, that last one is really difficult for me, but that’s what we are called to do.
 
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REFERENCES
¹ The Buddha
SOURCE: http://buddhism.about.com/od/theeightfoldpath/a/right-mindfulness.htm
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(Richard Taylor Suggestion)

THE PRACTICE:
Catch yourself feeling a “HIT” or ACTIVATION”.

Notice it.

Talk to yourself called Self-Talk.

Say: ” Remain Calm. Breathe.”

Listen with empathy (Empathetic Listening) trying to hear the other person’s points. Try to understand the underlying feelings that are driving the words spoken. Is it fear, frustration, misdirected pent up stress? What is it?

Remain silent. Try to remain neutral. Try for either being Neutral or Nice. Refrain from Nasty.

These are the 3 N’s. = Nasty/Neutral/Nice.

If flooded with feelings and you feel like yelling or being nasty…say “I am taking a 10/20/30 minute break and will discuss this when we are both calm. Please allow me to take this break without chasing me. How about you calm down too. ”

Discuss things when you are calm.

Choose to cooperate and then compromise or harmonize.
 
REFLECT/EVALUATE:

How did I do? What could I do better next time?

Form a plan for next time. Say “Next Time I will_________________”

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For Personal Help With Conflict:

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Richard TaylorDirector Richard Taylor BS, CAMF
Certified Anger Management Facilitator
Diplomate American Association Anger Management Providers

Atlanta Anger Management
5555 Glenridge Connector
Suite 200 (2nd Floor)
Atlanta, Georgia 30342 USA

Office Phone: 678-576-1913
Fax: 1-866-551-1253
Web: www.atlantaangermanagement.com
E-mail: richardtaylor5555@gmail.com

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FOCUS – A KEY TO SELF CONTROL

FOCUS – Is one of the keys to self control and improved Social Intelligence.

Richard Taylor of Atlanta Anger Management uses the Anderson and Anderson Contrasting Wheels of Behavior to help clients move quickly into more positive constructive relationship patterns.

Today we look at FOCUS or Paying Attention with Awareness.

Is your mind wandering?

The Practice

Pay attention.

Why?

Moment to moment, the flows of thoughts and feelings, sensations and desires, and conscious and unconscious processes sculpt your nervous system like water gradually carving furrows and eventually gullies on a hillside. Your brain is continually changing its structure. The only question is: Is it for better or worse?

In particular, because of what’s called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity,” whatever you hold in attention has a special power to change your brain. Attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: it illuminates what it rests upon and then sucks it into your brain – and your self.

Therefore, controlling your attention – becoming more able to place it where you want it and keep it there, and more able to pull it away from what’s bothersome or pointless (such as looping again and again through anxious preoccupations, mental grumbling, or self-criticism) – is the foundation of changing your brain, and thus your life, for the better.

As the great psychologist, William James, wrote over a century ago: “The education of attention would be the education par excellence.”

But to gain better control of attention – to become more mindful and more able to concentrate – we need to overcome a few challenges. In order to survive, our ancestors evolved to be stimulation-hungry and easily distracted, continually scanning their interior and their environment for opportunities and threats, carrots and sticks. There is also a natural range of temperament, from focused and cautious “turtles” to distractible and adventuresome “jackrabbits.” Upsetting experiences – especially traumatic ones – train the brain to be vigilant, with attention skittering from one thing to another. And modern culture makes us accustomed to an intense incoming fire hose of stimuli, so anything less – like the sensations of simply breathing – can feel unrewarding, boring, or frustrating.

To overcome these challenges, it’s useful to cultivate some neural factors of attention – in effect, getting your brain on your side to help you get a better grip on this spotlight/vacuum cleaner.

How?

You can use one or more of the seven factors below at the start of any deliberate focusing of attention – from keeping your head in a dull business meeting to contemplative practices such as meditation or prayer – and then let them move to the background as you shift into whatever the activity is.

You can also draw upon one or more during the activity if your attention is flagging. They are listed in an order that makes sense to me, but you can vary the sequence. (There’s more information about attention, mindfulness, concentration, and contemplative absorption inBuddha’s Brain.)

7 Things To Help Keep Focus:

1.  Set the intention to sustain your attention, to be mindful. You can do this both top-down, by giving yourself a gentle instruction to be attentive, and bottom-up, by opening to the sense in your body of what mindfulness feels like.

2.  Relax. Use Conscious Breathing. For example, take several exhalations that are twice as long as your inhalations. This stimulates the calming, centering parasympathetic nervous system and settles down the fight-or-flight stress-response sympathetic nervous system that jiggles the spotlight of attention this way and that, looking for carrots and sticks.

3.  Without straining at it, think of things that help you feel cared about – that you matter to someone, that you belong in a relationship or group, that you are seen and appreciated, or even cherished and loved. It’s OK if the relationship isn’t perfect, or that you bring to mind people from the past, or pets, or spiritual beings. You could also get a sense of your own goodwill for others, your own compassion, kindness, and love. Warming up the heart in this way helps you feel protected, and it brings a rewarding juiciness to the moment – which support #4 and #5 below.

4.  Think of things that help you feel safer, and thus more able to rest attention on your activities, rather than vigilantly scanning. Notice that you are likely in a relatively safe setting, with resources inside you to cope with whatever life brings. Let go of any unreasonable anxiety, any unnecessary guarding or bracing.

5.  Gently encourage some positive feelings, even mild or subtle ones. For example, think of something you feel glad about or grateful for; go-to’s for me include my kids, Yosemite, and just being alive. Open as you can to an underlying sense of well-being that may nonetheless contain some struggles or pain. The sense of pleasure or reward in positive emotions increases the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which closes a kind of gate in the neural substrates of working memory, thus keeping out any “barbarians,” any invasive distractions.

6.  Get a sense of the body as a whole, its many sensations appearing together each moment in the boundless space of awareness. This sense of things as a unified gestalt, perceived within a large and panoramic perspective, activates networks on the sides of the brain (especially the right – for right-handed people) that support sustained mindfulness. And it de-activates the networks along the midline of the brain that we use when we’re lost in thought.

7.  For 10-20-30 seconds in a row, stay with whatever positive experiences you’re having or lessons you’re learning. Since “neurons that fire together, wire together,” this savoring and registering helps weave the fruits of your attentive efforts into the fabric of your brain and your self. [You change.]

by

Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
25 Mitchell Blvd.
San Rafael, California 94903

Used With Permission

My latest book is adapted from this newsletter and is titled Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. In the book, I present 52 of my favorite practices – simple actions inside your mind – to light up the neural networks of deep well-being and resilience.

Just One Thing: Developing A Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time

by Rick Hanson by New Harbinger Publications
Paperback

List Price: $15.95
Our Price: $9.62

Buy Now

RICHARD TAYLOR’S FAVORITE BOOKS, DVDS ON: REWIRE YOUR BRAIN, MEDITATION, MINDFULNESS, PATHS TO SELF IMPROVEMENT, BRAIN SCIENCE, BRAIN NEUROPLASICITY

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE & ANGER MANAGEMENT go hand in hand.
First Step: Self Awareness
Second Step: Self Control
Third Step: Social Intelligence & Awareness
Fourth Step: Relationship Management

FOCUS – Using Mindful Attention To What We Are Doing is key to rewire the brain
to become more (slower) responsive then caveman fight, flight, freeze instant reactivity.

My Suggestion:

1. Stop Multi-Tasking when you can.

2. Turn off TV and Radio when you can. Embrace silence.

3. Silence allows us to hear our inner brain (ego) chatter.

4. Catch Negative thoughts. Change them to Positive thoughts. Click -> Change the channel! Called: 3 C’s -> Catch It. Check It. Change It.

5. Linger 10-20-30 seconds on these positive thoughts or experiences to rewire the brain.

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Director Richard Taylor BS, CAMF
Certified Anger Management Facilitator
Diplomate American Association Anger Management Providers

Atlanta Anger Management 
5555 Glenridge Connector
Suite 200 (2nd Floor)
Atlanta, Georgia 30342 USA

Office Phone: 678-576-1913
Fax: 1-866-551-1253
Web: www.atlantaangermanagement.com
E-mail: richardtaylor5555@gmail.com

Linked in:http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardtayloraam

A Certified Anderson and Anderson™ Anger Management Provider
The Best Of The Best In Anger Management & Emotional Intelligence