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Upeksha (equanimity)

Updated: Mar 25, 2019

At some point in our practice of yoga we all get to the point where we do it to attain peace of mind, to reach a blissful moment, to just be, without any pressure or tug of war going in our minds due to our everyday life's busy-ness.

This is where we are reminded of one of the four Brahmaviharas, or aspects for unconditional love: upeksha. Upeksha in Sanskrit, or equanimity, is a state of even-mindedness. It sounds easy, but it does require practice and discipline to fully embrace it.

Life can be rough at times. The unexpected happens, the expected does not happen, and the unthinkable becomes your new way of living. There are curve balls thrown at us at any time during this so precious journey called life.

It is in these very trying times when we need upeksha the most.

Think of when you or somebody you know has lost their job. Perhaps it was a job they had held for several years. Or, consider when an illness suddenly shows up in your life or the life of a loved one. How about losing somebody you love? The events can be extremely difficult to deal with. Upeksha is something we learn and practice and eventually becomes our default state of mind. Meditation is a powerful tool to develop upeksha. Another way to cultivate upeksha is to stop (hard as it might be!) for a moment before we react to minor events of everyday life. For instance, the soup you are making or warming up spills over. It is very hot and you just got a big mess to clean on your stove top or microwave oven. What happens then? The normal reaction to this event is to run and even complain given the fact that suddenly you have a chore to do. Instead, count to 5 or 10. Take a deep breath and just pick up a sponge or kitchen towel and clean it. No words included. Just see it as a task you were going to do anyway. It is hard. It takes practice. But it does pay off.

One more example. It is sunny out - a beautiful day to go on a bike ride. Off you go on your bike. It is all going perfectly well. You decide to park your bike by the beach and take a stroll barefoot in the sand. When you come back after five or ten minutes you realize your bike is nowhere to be found. You know you left it there. But it is gone now. What happens then? You call somebody to come and get you and likely for the next few days you will be telling everybody about it and getting upset every time you bring the event to mind. Instead, do your due diligence of making a police report and move on.

It is not easy to practice upeksha. Sometimes it seems life is unfair and we tend to react to it. Instead of reacting to events around us, upeksha teaches us to respond to all those events around us. It is not that we don't care. It is a state of mind that brings peace. A state of mind that leads us when things get rough.

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