“Cultivating equanimity is a work in progress. We aspire to spend our lives training in the lovingkindness and courage that it takes to receive whatever appears ~ sickness, health, poverty, wealth, sorrow and joy. We welcome and get to know them all.” Pema Chödrön
Ahhhh New Year’s resolutions ~ plans for the new year set in place with the hope of self-improvement. This time of year many people come to their practice with a fresh zeal and excitement, as the clean slate of the new year offers unfulfilled opportunities. As we set our sights on resolutions for this New Year, perhaps it is helpful to contemplate how we might pursue these intentions such that they become part of our lives in a more meaningful, beneficial and steadfast manner.
Yoga philosophy teaches us that simply showing up to our practices does not automatically allow us to reap their benefits ~ there is not an automatic correlation between showing up to practice and “yogic involution”. For example, we know that an ability to demonstrate advanced poses, is not evidence of spiritual advancement.
Of equal importance to the effort of showing up, is developing an attitude of nonattachment. And so it goes with life, the approach of living a life with intention and awareness, coupled with an ability to let go, provides us with a roadmap to navigate life in a more equanimous manner.
Similar to other tools in our everyday lives, yoga tools and techniques (such as, asana, pranayama and meditation) can prove beneficial; but similar to fire, if used incorrectly, these tools can have devastating effects. And so with our practices ~ if we simply show up, without any further guidance, we could just as easily practice our way further down our rabbit holes of anxiety, anger, insecurity, depression, or unkind behaviors, to name a few. First we show up, but it is the quality and intention of the practice ~ the manner in which the tool is used, that creates the particular outcome.
While it is ok to have hopes and desires, our suffering lies in our attachment to the fulfillment of these hopes and desires. Our self-worth and self-identity soon come to depend on our successes and failures. We start to believe that our experiences, together with all that unfolds with them, start to define us. And so we we continue to show up ~ and as we do, we learn to sit with whatever comes up and unfolds (whether positive or negative) and after experiencing it, we learn to let it go. Pema Chödrön says “to practice equanimity, we practice catching ourselves whenever we feel attraction or aversion, before it hardens into grasping or negativity.”
As we effort toward fulfilling these resolutions, (whether a new diet, working out, practicing yoga, or a meditation/mindfulness practice), it behooves us as to take it one day at a time (maybe even one breath at a time). Be resolute in your resolution! But remember, while it takes effort to show up, this effort is coupled with an ability to let go of whatever comes up and unfolds. Beyond, “success”, this approach allows us to reap the greatest benefit of all ~ learning to live a life with equanimity.
Namaste ~ Shari