Be the Mountain: Thoughts on Equanimity

"Flowers fall with our attachment, and weeds spring up with our aversion." - Dogen

Equanimity is a state of inner balance that enables you to remain centered in the midst of all experiences of life. Equanimity arises when we accept things as they are without attachment or aversion, thereby working to eleviate suffering. The concept of equanimity fits nicely with the non-judgemental awareness of mindfulness. Without judement, aversion, or attachment, the self is free to fully experience life in balance, without grasping or pushing. Welcoming the weeds, without lamenting the falling of flowers. Or in my case, accepting the sweltering summer heat without wishing for a cool fall breeze.

Equanimity

The mountain is often used as a symbol to describe this peaceful and balanced state. The mountain absorbs the sun in the same way that it takes in the rain, the wind, and the snow. No matter what is going on around it, the mountain is still the mountain.

In yoga, Tadasana is the Mountain pose. Seemingly simple, this posture looks as though one is merely standing upright. However, the intent behind Tadasana is to create an unwavering and unshakeable balance and strength - grounded to the earth through the feet, crown of the head reaching toward the heavens. Tadasana is the most basic standing posture, and therefore is the foundation for all others.  

As with yoga, the moutain may serve as a foundation for meditation practice. Emulating its equanimity for all change by experiencing thoughts and emotions as the mountain endures sun or snow. Pleasure and discomfort holding the same amount of weight, as if both were balanced perfectly on a scale. 

 

Mountain Meditation:

 

Sit with a straight back, top of the head reaching toward the sky, allow the shoulders to fully relax, placing your hands on your knees.

 

Close your eyes and bring your attention to the breath. Just observe without trying to change it in any way. Sit with a sense of dignity, a sense of stillness, a sense of wholeness in the present moment. Bring the image of a mountain to your mind's eye. Observe its overall shape, its peak, the large base rooted in the earth, its steep, sloping sides. Noticing how massive it is, how solid, how unmoving. 

 

Bring the mountain into your own body so that the body sitting here and the mountain in your mind’s eye become one. You become the mountain grounded in the sitting posture, your head becomes the peak, supported by the rest of the body. Your shoulders and arms the sides of the mountain. Experience a sense of uplifting with each breath.

 

Become unwavering in stillness, allowing the sun, wind, rain, and snow to arise and pass. Through it all, the mountain just sits, experiencing change in each moment. Take note of any physical sensations, thoughts, or emotions and hold each without attachment or aversion, just as the mountain sits unmoved by the weather.