Thursday, July 21, 2011

No Need to React

Whew! Temps fell at least 24 degrees overnight. Thankfully the temperature gauge read 72 degrees en route to my AM T'ai Chi Chih class and, for the first time in five weeks, we practiced outdoors.

It was fabulous! A wonderful cooling breeze blew over us (and occasionally almost blew us over) as we moved through our practice. A student from the Twin Cities who joins us during the summer session admitted afterwards that it's an entirely different experience practicing in-person with a group of classmates rather than relying on the teachers' practice at the end of Justin Stone's TCC DVD. Yep. No doubt about it. The energy is different. In a word: Powerful.

Following practice we discussed Chapter 7 of Buddha's Brain, "Equanimity." I thought this would be an easy topic for us to consider since our T'ai Chi Chih practice is a premier example of equanimity in action (literally). As we flow through our movements we enter into silence and an energy of pure awareness. We let go and release ourselves into peace, love, and compassion (for others and most especially, for ourselves).

When we practice outside, as we did today, we cope easily with uneven ground beneath our feet. We notice the sounds and sights around us but we allow it all to remain on the periphery of our awareness. We feel insects as they flutter by, alight on us, or nip at our ankles, and we easily ignore them or brush them away. (That's the ideal at least, and some days during some practices I'm more easily able to maintain my equanimity.)

Buddha's Brain tells us that "Equanimity means not reacting to your reactions, whatever they are.... Equanimity is not coldness, indifference, or apathy. You are present in the world but not upset by it." (p. 117)

When I Googled equanimity on the internet, here's what I read at
     You hear some bad news. Immediately your heart pounds, your breath tightens, your face frowns. You hear some good news. Your heart jumps, your face smiles. In both cases, your thoughts swirl and you lose your center. You see something disgusting, you feel pain, you notice a horrible thought, or you see your favority, delectable treat, and you lose your center, inwardly rushing toward or fleeing from what you have encountered. All this describes our ordinary mode of pre-programmed, automated, conditioned, and contingent living....

     To work toward equanimity, we let go of attachments and accept ourselves, our situation, and our world. In this we distinguish the normalcy of caring and loving from the slavery of being bound and chained by identification and clinging.
Are you filled with equanimity one day (or during one TCC practice) and searching for it aimlessly another day? I would guess that that's more often the rule than the exception.. All that we can do is continue to practice. And remember ... you don't need to react to your reactions, whatever they are.

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