This, too.

When I first began meditation and mindfulness practice in earnest, I set as a reason/intention for practice these three things:

to unravel the causes of negativity
to cultivate equanimity
to grow in kindness

As time has passed, these intentions have remained my primary motivation for spiritual practice. This year, I am focusing on the second of these – cultivating equanimity. To aid in this endeavor, my mantra for this year is, “this, too.” It is from this sentence: “I accept unconditionally the unfolding of this present moment in whatever form it takes – this, too, is allowed and accepted.” This, too. As life unfolds each day, as each experience blossoms, I can choose to take a breath and remind myself. This, too.

I’ve been reading about the bodhichitta practices to awaken and nurture open-heartedness. One of the teachings is about the “Four limitless qualities”. These are: loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. These are all qualities that bloom out of my life when I have nurtured a level of well-being. One of the bodhichitta practices is Metta. This is a prayer of sorts, spoken over myself first and then those I love, those I feel neutral about, those I struggle with, and ultimately all beings. Here are a couple of examples of metta that I incorporate into my meditation practice.

May I feel nurtured and loved.
May I be peaceful and content.
May my body provide me with strength.
May my life unfold like a flower in the sun.

May I feel protected and safe.
May I be contented and pleased.
May my body provide me with strength.
May my life unfold smoothly, with ease.

The last line of the metta has been echoing strongly lately. May my life unfold smoothly, with ease. It is slowly dawning on me that this has little to do with the circumstances – rather it is coming to a place of rest and ease in ALL circumstances. Asking for ease isn’t about asking for a break from the unrelenting challenges but rather asking for the expansion of my heart/mind that allows all things with the same open heart and peaceful mind. It is saying an unconditional “yes” to all of life as it unfolds, learning to surf the waves of samsara.

This, too. To dwell in equanimity is to be free from attachment and aversion. This, too. This small happiness, this moment of sorrow, this anxiety, this gratitude. All of it. All of life with its sorrows and joys, paddling toward that wonderful shore of “no preference”, where each moment is welcomed and cherished equally.

We all – each of us – will encounter illness, old age, loss, and death. Equanimity isn’t about escaping the challenges but about opening our hearts to what is difficult with equal measure of the joys of this precious life.

“The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions, all to all people, experiencing everything totally without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.” ~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

george christakis2