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Posts Tagged ‘equanimity’

One morning earlier this summer, I found myself standing atop an unstable blue object known as a BOSU Ball. Invented by David Weck in 1999, the BOSU Balance Trainer is an inflatable rubber hemisphere attached to a rigid platform. The central component of a “mindful approach to exercise,”[1] the BOSU Ball is designed to improve the body’s  sense of balance while strengthening its stabilizing muscles. I was standing on the BOSU Ball because I’d been having knee pain, and our family doctor had recommended physical therapy. In turn, the affable but exacting physical therapist with whom I was working had prescribed the BOSU Ball. “Don’t fall off,” he cheerfully warned, having just assigned me thirty squats. Miraculously, I managed to comply.

In a manner analogous to that of the BOSU Ball, Zen practice also aims to strengthen our sense of balance, physical and emotional. In Zen teachings, the capacity to maintain one’s equilibrium, especially under stressful, uncertain, and unstable conditions, is known as equanimity, a translation of the Sanskrit word upeksha. The traditional posture of sitting meditation—knees down, back erect, head balanced on the spine—supports the cultivation of upeksha, as does the practice of walking meditation, which trains the practitioner to walk with dignity and steady awareness. But these forms and practices, however essential to Zen discipline, are but the outward expressions of an inner poise. And at the heart of that inner poise is a balanced, inclusive way of experiencing the world. (more…)

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As the world knows, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace prize laureate and leader of the opposition in Myanmar, was released from house arrest in November, 2010. What is not so well known is that during her long years of confinement—fifteen of the past twenty-one—Aung San Suu Kyi relied on meditation to maintain her equanimity. Every morning, she practiced Vipassana (“insight”) meditation, concentrating on the rising and falling of her abdomen. Her practice, she has since reported, enabled her to deal with the “intense irritation and impatience” she felt toward those who had imprisoned her. It also helped her cope with the loss of her husband to prostate cancer and her subsequent estrangement from her two sons. “After years of meditation,” she has said, “I think you remain very much on an even keel. There is not much difference to you mentally whether you’ve been released or not.”* (more…)

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