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Equanimity & The Eight Worldly Winds


Trying To Control The Wind

Imagine that you're standing in the middle of a field on a breezy day, and the wind keeps shifting direction.

For whatever reason, whenever the wind blows one way, you feel really happy and connected to your wellbeing.

But when the wind blows the other way, you feel unhappy and disconnected from your wellbeing.

Also imagine that because you like feeling happy, you try to do everything you can think of to keep the wind blowing in this direction.

You try to encourage it, you try to force it. When it does blow the right way, you do everything you can to keep it blowing that way.

But of course, it ends up being quite a frustrating, fruitless exercise.

Because no matter what happens, we just don't control the way the wind blows.


Finding Equanimity

This may sound like a silly imaginary exercise, but it's not so different from how we actually experience the ebbs and flows of our happiness and wellbeing.

It begs the question, is there a way of us being able to hold onto our general sense of inner okayness and wellbeing, whatever direction the winds are blowing?

Well, from a mindfulness point of view, yes there is.

We refer to this as the inner quality of equanimity.

I like to think of equanimity as cultivating a kind of good natured patience for whatever we happen to be experiencing moment to moment.

This means that we don't get buffeted by the winds when they're blowing this way and then that way.

We just sit patiently and good naturedly in the middle of it all, accepting that this just happens to be the direction that the wind is blowing right now.


The Eight Worldly Winds

A helpful way of identifying where we might be getting caught up in making our happiness and wellbeing dependent on certain circumstances being a particular way is reflecting on what the Buddha called the 'Eight Worldly Winds'.

Which are really four pairs of opposites that we get to experience.

They are gain and loss, pleasure and pain, fame and disrepute, and praise and blame.

It will seem natural to us that we're going to be happier when we're experiencing pleasure rather than pain, or when we're gaining things that we want rather than losing things that we don't want to lose.

Of course we want to be praised rather than blamed, and we want to be held in high regard rather than have our reputation put into disrepute.

But this reflection is really about taking stock of the actual extent to which we're able to control which way these winds blow.

Of course, we can have influence over it, but even if we were to stand or sit here and do nothing at all, we're going to experience pain.

We're going to experience pleasure.

We're going to be praised for something, blamed for something.

We'll gain things and lose things.

It's just the way the wind blows.

So in mindfulness, when we are cultivating equanimity, what we're really doing is elevating our general okayness and good natured patience for being with things however they happen to be.


Equanimity Is NOT Indifference

Now this isn't to be confused with feeling disengaged or indifferent about what we happen to be experiencing at any moment.

In fact quite the opposite. With equanimity we become even more tuned into what we're feeling and experiencing.

But because we're not so attached to things having to be a particular way in order for us to access our general okayness, it means that we are open to savouring the pleasant while it's here, but don't feel the need to cling and grasp at it.

And it also means that we can be with the unpleasant aspects of life without having to feel overwhelmed by them.

We recognise it's just the way the wind is blowing right now.


Equanimity Is a Practice

This isn't something that we can just click our fingers and develop overnight.

It's what I call a 'SLOW GROW' quality.

If this is something that you like the sound of and you're interested in the possibility of cultivating more equanimity for yourself, then get in touch.

I'd be delighted to have a chat about the ways that mindfulness practice can help you do exactly this.





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