Equanimity is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind.
To practice equanimity is to remain in meditation without being affected by the sensations, both mental and physical, going on in your body and mind. Vipassana gives you an opportunity to observe the rising and falling of all sensations.
Vipassana teaches that every phenomena has a start and end, in other words, nothing is permanent (annica). There is no self (annata).
To cultivate equanimity, observe the object (your abdomen) and it’s rise and fall with each breath. As explained in this article, each breath has a start and an end. So the abdomen’s falling has a start and an end that you become aware of.
During this, if an external (secondary) object comes to your attention, just label it and move on. For example if an unpleasant thought comes to your mind, don’t focus on it but just label it as “thinking” and continue meditating with equanimity.
Similarly, if you experience pain or itching during Vipassana meditation, make a mental note “pain” and “itch” and move on. If desire arises to scratch, mentally note “desire”.
What if you cannot focus on the primary object (abdomen)?
– If you want to move your hands toward the itch, note “desire to move”.
– As you move your hands, note “moving”.
– As you reach the surface, note “intending to scratch”.
– As you start scratching, note “scratching”. Stop.
– As you move your hands away, note “moving away”.
– Put your hand in the original position. “Placing”.
– If pleasant feelings arise, note “feeling”.
– If there is a liking for the current state, note “liking”.
Continue to focus on the primary object or abdomen.
You can repeat the above exercise with any type of hindrance and maintain equanimity in your Vipassana practice.
Keep bringing your focus back to the primary object. Usually the distraction from secondary object will go away on its own. If not, use the above exercise.
To learn more about how to focus and maintain equanimity in Vipassana, click here.
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