Equanimity

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The aim of yoga is to cease the movement or turning of the mind as Patanjali suggests in the 2nd sutra of his Yoga Sutras. So if through yoga asana, meditation and pranayama the practitioner achieves this cessation of mental fluctuation – what then?

The stillness of the mind quite possibly creates the conditions for equanimity. A very english yogi likes this word. It means composure and evenness of temper regardless of the situation.

This state of being is perfectly symbolised in a quote that the ‘yogi heard recently. He thinks it’s Tibetan. It goes like this:

“If something is broken, why worry if it can be fixed? If something is broken and it can’t be fixed, why worry?”

and just the other day, the Yogi was re-reading a well known poem by Kipling which seems to sum up this sense of equanimity:

If by Rudyard Kipling
Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!

Equanimity comes from yoga practice – the more you get on the mat and practice asana; the more your cittas stop vritting and the more likely you are to have a sense of equanimity.

Life throws us plenty of challenges to this. You walk in to your office and your work mates are arguing, your boss is shouting at you, your car broke down, another driver cut you up, you didnt get the job you had placed all you energy and hope for. There are so many scenarios in the play of life that one is tempted to think that these things are thrown into your path to test your much treasured and worked for equanimity. Much treasured because it is hard in this world to achieve this; and possibly the only way to get this is to work hard, turning up on the mat practicising asana and living yoga off the mat as much as possible.

A very english yogi knows that Kipling is a bit dated, and recognises that it’s written from a father to a son – but he thinks that it has resonance over the years and across generations and gender.

Here’s to your equanimity!

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