Musings about Upekkha

I’m feeling like I have sporadic access to parts of a very interesting whole. Looking at loving-kindness and equanimity is proving I can’t really do Buddhist meditation practice any longer without looking at the bigger Buddhist picture. One thing I sense is vital at the outset is to follow the example of the walking meditation Alistair taught us at the meditation, ie. just to enjoy and be mindful of the sensation of the movement down the path; the end result will happen anyway. I don’t want to be ‘A Buddhist’ any more than I want to be ‘A Walker’ when I walk from A to B. There’s experimentation aplenty ahead as I try (to continue the analogy) different sensations out to see what’s right for me.

Just this week I chose not to do the first round of the fourth course of Alistair’s that I’ve been around for, for fear of ‘grasping’. I didn’t feel that mantra concentration practice was what I needed right now, and that attending would fit in with ‘grasping’ – I would have only done it for the approval of others, for approval, as a crutch. I will attend later classes because they will offer reinforcement on what I’m focusing on right now and that feels right. Waiting to return to a teacher I particularly enjoy, whose approach really resonates with me, also offers a good period in which to practice patience.

I’m getting really fascinated with Upekkha (equanimity) right now, and starting to understand it a small bit more. It seems to be the difference between getting wound up at unjustice and lashing out, and feeling the same feeling but picking your fights carefully, and with due measure. Setting up the former means constant reactivity to circumstance and stimulus. You can get big highs and excitements, yet cause huge damage, have no stability, and remain buffeted by every single change in the emotional ‘weather’. Upekkha allows the same feelings, even the same extremes, but removes the desperation to react to them. Just this morning I got caught in an emotional storm, brought on by a particularly painful memory, which triggered very dark, negative thoughts, which started to spin into a cycle (as they do). But I stuck with being mindful of the feelings, and started to feel apart from them, rather than continuing the ‘feedback loop’; I was aware yet non reactive. The feelings and thoughts hurt but started not to matter, and the ‘weather’ later randomly changed, as did the mood, and balance was never really lost. I hope this is a good example (this seems to suggest so at least), because I’m finding developing a skilful mind quite exciting.


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