Equanimity and the forces of nature

If you’ve been following along it should be no surprise that there is opportunity for equanimity accompanying the change in season. The forces of nature are at work and the dramatic shifts that happen around the change of season are nearly impossible to ignore. 

Our Spring Equinox webinar (click here to access the recording) presented a framework and some language for understanding what forces are at work as the seasons change. In this article, we’ll focus on how to use practice to maintain (or find) equanimity in the midst of it all. 

Forces of nature and self-study

For simplicity’s sake, we will limit our consideration of forces to air, earth, and fire. These forces and their relative dominance determine an individual’s underlying constitution (or “type”) and how its interaction with other forces of nature can lead to, or disrupt equanimity. 

Air dominance is characterized by speed, movement, flexibility, and relative pervasiveness. Earth dominance is steady, solid, and supportive. Fire dominance is motivational.

We identify with personality characteristics, body types, activities, professions, astrological signs, and horoscopes. You may see how the forces of nature are at play in influencing preferences in climate, activity levels, eating, and sleeping habits. They also affect how we respond to stress and what happens when our tolerance thresholds are met. 

Self-study (svadyaya) is one of the foundational self-care practices that all yogis should consider. It allows us to see more clearly how the forces of nature affect our experience. This wisdom is within, reflection simply encourages it to be seen more clearly. 

You might just now realize that you “tend to…” prefer hot/cold, fast/slow, spicy/bland. Of course, our real experience is always somewhere in the middle of these extremes but to feel their pull can help us to know ourselves better. You may also feel some distinction between overall tendencies and how you’ve been feel “lately.”

You may have already identified with one of the primary forces of nature listed above: air, earth, or fire. Consider where you live next. Is it windy, hot, dry? Are you at sea level or elevation? Does it rain a lot? You might also consider where you like to go (or dream about going) on vacation.

With mindfulness practice, we develop awareness of these relatively objective aspects of our experience and become aware of preferences. When you think about yourself and your environment in terms of the forces of nature, what preferences do you notice? What weather conditions are you hoping for today?

Equanimity

Equanimity is always at work, balancing the forces of nature. The philosophical teachings of yoga are anchored to this dynamic. Hatha yoga, the most popular form of practice in our day and age, is the physical practice of equanimity. Hatha is a Sanskrit word whose roots are ha, which means sun, and tha,  which means moon. The practices include positions that stretch the body in one direction and then the other. They challenge practitioners to balance movement with stillness both in the body and in the breath. They also include exercises on the mind and attention and encourage an ability to turn attention inward as well as outward. 

When we encourage equanimity its benefits become more accessible…. and, here’s a perhaps unexpected bonus… the range of tolerance expands, sometimes exponentially. In other words, with access to equanimity, we’re able to experience more variety. This phenomenon is due to incredible forces of nature that govern our nervous system. 

You may be familiar with many of the following phrases: go with the flow, hot under the collar, head in the clouds, sunny disposition, lightening fast, calm before the storm, snowball effect, whirlwind experience, hot-tempered, cold shoulder… the list goes on and on.

These common phrases help illustrate how the forces of nature affect the way that we move through the world. They may help further your insight about yourself and your environment.

Whether you’re looking to expand your horizons… perhaps life has become a bit dull, or, to find peace in the midst of a tempestuous time, an awareness of equanimity will help. 

Your practice can be as subtle or as forthright as suits you. If you feel cold, you can move towards heat (or notice that your subconscious has already directed this movement.) If you feel doubt, you can move towards confidence. You can use words, images, sounds, sensations, even tastes and smells to help facilitate your equanimity. 

With mindfulness practice as a foundation, you will have both a marked path to follow and, many choices about where to go. Click here to get our free mini-mindfulness course.

This kind of equanimity in process encourages our nervous system to trust our movement towards change. It’s hard, it takes energy, time, and resources that our subconscious would generally rather hold on to in case of an emergency. With awareness and respect for this dynamic and, resolve, we can, we do find balance…. along with wonder, awe, humility, compassion and great joy!

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