How to actually train equanimity?

Pavel Pek, modified 9 Months ago at 8/22/21 7:39 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 8/22/21 7:39 AM

How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 13 Join Date: 8/22/21 Recent Posts
Hello folks, I am new here. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is now mild after I've done a lot of therapy on it over the last 15 years. However, I've found it hard to concentrate due to it most of my life. Since today I feel like higher equanimity could benefit me greatly in my case. I would like to ask if there is some equanimity meditation or something that you would recommend and how even equanimity plays into concentration? Usually, it seems as if equanimity is written about as a by-product developed through concentration practices such as following the breath in and out where you always bring the focus back on that breath (or another meditation object of choice) wherever it drifts away. However, in my practice, it seems like my equanimity is very, very low and it's actually hindering my concentration in the first place. Is there a way to actually train equanimity in a sitting practice prior to actually even training concentration? 
George S, modified 9 Months ago at 8/22/21 9:13 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 8/22/21 9:06 AM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 2394 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Well equanimity is defined as accepting whatever is actually happening right now, without ignoring it, clinging to it or pushing it away. In this case, what seems to be happening is that "concentration" is being judged for not meeting some kind externalized standard. Equanimity would be accepting that concentration just is what it is in the moment. If you adopt that kind of attitude then concentration will naturally deepen over time, otherwise you are just fighting with yourself and it will never be "good enough".
shargrol, modified 9 Months ago at 8/23/21 6:46 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 8/23/21 6:46 AM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

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George S
Well equanimity is defined as accepting whatever is actually happening right now, without ignoring it, clinging to it or pushing it away. In this case, what seems to be happening is that "concentration" is being judged for not meeting some kind externalized standard. Equanimity would be accepting that concentration just is what it is in the moment. If you adopt that kind of attitude then concentration will naturally deepen over time, otherwise you are just fighting with yourself and it will never be "good enough".

Well said.

Equanimity is basically getting used to saying "yes" to whatever arises during a sit.

But there really needs to be interest/curiousity about what is happening... sometimes people get used to saying "meh" to whatever arises --- this isn't equanimity.  

Equanimity is interest an acceptance and curiousity/investigation. "Wow, this is what life is like. Wow, this is what my mind is like. This really is how things are right now. What IS this?"
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 9 Months ago at 8/22/21 2:06 PM
Created 9 Months ago at 8/22/21 2:06 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Pavel Pek
Hello folks, I am new here. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is now mild after I've done a lot of therapy on it over the last 15 years. However, I've found it hard to concentrate due to it most of my life. Since today I feel like higher equanimity could benefit me greatly in my case. I would like to ask if there is some equanimity meditation or something that you would recommend and how even equanimity plays into concentration? Usually, it seems as if equanimity is written about as a by-product developed through concentration practices such as following the breath in and out where you always bring the focus back on that breath (or another meditation object of choice) wherever it drifts away. However, in my practice, it seems like my equanimity is very, very low and it's actually hindering my concentration in the first place. Is there a way to actually train equanimity in a sitting practice prior to actually even training concentration? 
It sounds like you have developed access concentration over time and now you are nearing jhana. Any jhana can produce equinimity, so be patient. First jhana would be a great place to start. The way I enter it is to formalize a plan in my head, and realize that that plan has already been made.
Michal, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 11:31 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 11:31 AM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/9/20 Recent Posts
Do a prolonged water fast & do as much meditation as possible during it. Maybe start on Friday, so you can use the extra time you have on the weekend for very long meditation sessions.
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Mind over easy, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 1:27 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 1:27 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
While there are merits to diet and consumption related things, I would respectfully disagree that water fasting has any central role in the question of developing equanimity. I would also advise against thinking long and heroic efforts are required to reach equanimity or even just a reasonable degree of peace and even-mindedness. Good advice and pointers have already been given, but I just wanted to point out that with all due respect, I don't think this answer is good, I think it's bad. It suggests that heroic and substantial effort is required or at least is a good path to develop equanimity, while I would largely agree more with the spirit of other answers, where patience, gentle curiosity, compassionate acceptance of whatever may come up, a balanced and even approach, etc... these are much more in the spirit of equanimity and the approaches that get you there. Besides for when you are confident and informed that some heroic or drastic effort will get what you specifically are aiming for, I would advise against things that border extreme or heroic. Typically these approaches just aren't sustainable, and at their worst, they can be harmful.

Equanimity is freely available, it isn't at odds with any positive or negative experiences that may come up. It doesn't require anything drastic, doesn't have to require special diet or intensive meditation. At best, it's something that you can find simply by meeting your experience where it is, having compassion and patience for yourself, etc... If you're distracted, no worries. If you're feeling off balance, no worries. Give yourself patience, you don't have to get it perfect, just showing up to your experience and having the resolve to just be present and meet each up and down with patience and acceptance is a great attitude which can go a long ways. That's my experience. 
Michal, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 2:05 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 2:05 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/9/20 Recent Posts
In my direct experience it has been very helpful. Autophagy + the fact that you have to overcome uncomfortable sensations (which is easiest when you stop identifying with the sensations).
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Mind over easy, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 2:22 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 2:22 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Fair enough. And I don't mean to discredit your own experience or roads you've taken. I just think that giving any diet advice, especially in the context of "spiritual paths" and such can be a potentially dangerous subject. Though I am also just an internet stranger, I would advise OP and really anyone to defer medical and dietary advice to medical professionals and experts; they generally have a much better understanding of body wellness and how to skillfully and wisely modify diet than others, because they are trained and studied. Not that they're always right, simply that they are professionals and typically much more well informed in that regard. Not to mention that there is serious potential for damage in attempting to change diet and such. I'm not discounting you or the potential merits of fasting. I just think that it's not good advice especially for a potentially less experienced meditator, when there are much more balanced, easily approachable, and generally more accessible routes to the simple and freely available peace and equanimity that OP is looking for. I find the need to change diet or attempt more heroic feats of meditation at odds with the descriptions of equanimity- the simple and pure acceptance and patience with whatever arises in this very moment. 

I would also note to OP- in the practice, you might find that things at time feel more frustrating, discouraging, than when you started. Though it doesn't feel great, sometimes this is actually a sign of progress. The things that your mind previously buried away or clung tightly to, might become apparent as unskillful and causes of suffering. This is totally fine and natural, to be expected! Again, when running into frustration, doubt, impatience, skepticism, etc... I really do mean this deeply and truly, patience, loving kindness for yourself, and the gentle resolve to stick with it and allow these things to arise and sit with them, this attitude can really go a long ways in helping you along. Best of luck and respect for taking steps to find peace of mind emoticon 
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L J, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 1:19 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 1:19 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 145 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Hey man, I also have OCD, meditation will definitely build your equanimity and help. Have you heard of "OCD recovery" on YouTube? They're amazing. Obviously you've done a lot of work on it for 15 years and you are a lot better, but if you've never heard of these guys, please check their videos out, literally the best in the business 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 1:40 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 1:40 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

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Everything is subject to Anicca! Equanimity too. 

Getting used to stuff being impermanent and being ok with it (giving up the fight between desire and aversion) is true equanimity. And once we realise that ALL beings desire such equanimity to not be burdened by dukkha (clinging to desire and aversion) we also get the other 3 to join in, compassion, altruistic joy and loving kindness. 

Equanimity states achieved via Jhana practice don't hold water for long. 

Equanimty stage also rots away. 

Cling to nothing. Acceptance of everything. Be happy that you even do such training. So many are utterly oblivious to the nature of their mind. 

One sensation at a time, then one, then one, ... and this and this and this one ... 

Sorry for rumbling too much emoticon Just tired after a tough work day emoticon 

​​​​​​​Best wishes! 
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Stefan Stefan, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 5:16 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 5:16 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

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Expanding on what George said, the Pali word from which we get the English "equanimity", Uppekha. In the original language it has connotations of balance, resoluteness, firmness, and acceptance. 

Think of it like being a surfer. They'll not get into low spirits because the surf is poor that day -- they'll simply make do. Similarly, if big waves are present, they can keep their cool and surf them as best they can. While atop the wave, they aren't leaning too far forward or too far back, nor are they getting caught up in the feeling of "omg omg omg I'm doing it!! Wowow!!!!" That is the firmness and resoluteness -- staying with the present sensations at hand to do something. However, the surfer is not aloof or apathetic to the experience at hand. To be aloof or apathetic is to be disinterested with the expericne at hand. 

Equanimity is inherently noble. As far as training equanimity, I'd really recommend learning to keep a noble state of mind. A good nobleman will be interested in the state of his peasants because their welfare is inextricably tied to his welfare. However, he is not swayed by their gossiping or their emotional pleading. He is an integral part of the system but has risen above the pettiness of those below him, while maintaining an active interest in nurturing their welfare. See if that metaphor resonates, you could flesh it out yourself in your own words, but try and draw on the noblility. 

Another way would be to work on the 4th Jhana and learning how to effortlessly get to it simpy by thinking it. 
T DC, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 5:58 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 5:58 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

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Stefan Stefan Think of it like being a surfer. They'll not get into low spirits because the surf is poor that day..


Clearly you don't know any surfers.  ;)
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Stefan Stefan, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 8:13 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 8:13 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

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I only know good surfers, and they don't get upset... they make do with what the ocean offers
T DC, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 8:39 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 8:39 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 438 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
I see, truly a noble bunch.  

I jest, but seriously speaking, the amount of craving and aversion involved in surfing probably outweighs that of most other sports combined.  100% dependent on variable conditions, frequently aggressively localised, ect..  Its awesomeness is undeniable - a dance with the raw power and beauty of nature - but I think surf culture itself is a pretty ironic metaphor for equanimity.   Have a look at Beach Grit if you're unsure what I'm on about.  ;)

Anyhow, equanimity.. - as you were.
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Stefan Stefan, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 11:39 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 11:39 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

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what are you on about
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Griffin, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 6:10 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 6:10 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 217 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
Does anyone have any useful tips about ways to produce harmless pain in order to train equanimity? E.g. breath holding, or holding urine... For small periods of time of course, nothing too extreme.
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Stefan Stefan, modified 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 11:47 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/6/21 11:47 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 238 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
the best way to train equanimity is to be able to recognise moment to moment the arising of craving or clinging. I highly recommend looking into the 12 links of dependent origination and learning to see how each link leads to the next, either producing suffering or producing equanimity/joy/metta, and all the other good stuff we're after. 

if you need to hold your pee or breath to recognise aversion I dunno what to say, I think you're pretty equanimous by that stage. However, strong determination sitting is a good way to get intimate with pain. 

The Buddha speaks of 3 causes of Dukkha -- pain, conditionality, and change. 
  1. Dukkha from pain is quite obvious, I would say
  2. Dukkha from change is also relatively easy to recognise, simply see how the mind creates tension around things not staying the same
  3. Dukkha from conditionality is more refined, conditionality is where we see how the mind has produced suffering from having a set of assumptions about what being happy and avoiding sadness is about. This is entirely personal, but could range from basic things like certain assumptions about situations to assumptions about who we are or what we're supposed to be. Really, the list is endless
I don't think any of these investigations require you to put yourself into too much discomfort. 

​​​​​​​Best of luck
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finding-oneself *, modified 5 Months ago at 12/8/21 12:31 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/8/21 12:31 PM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 244 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
Wow I've never been so excited for pee before. 

I wish I had a way to replicate my results. I have to pee a lot and I HATE it. I was able to hold it on the cushion literally out of sloth and wanting to not "ruin" my session.

Stage 8 TMI says to visualize urine collecting in your bladder, on the witness and still point meditation. It happened clicked for me. But I agree with the other response.
Martin, modified 5 Months ago at 12/7/21 10:33 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/7/21 10:33 AM

RE: How to actually train equanimity?

Posts: 419 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
"Is there a way to actually train equanimity in a sitting practice prior to actually even training concentration? "


You might want to try this technique: https://library.dhammasukha.org/uploads/1/2/8/6/12865490/the_path_to_nibbana__d_johnson_f18.pdf 
I would suggest skipping ahead to page 74 and trying the technique to start. If you like it, you might want to read the first part, which consists of theoretical arguments in favor of using the technique.

It's metta-based and leads on to generating a type of concentration. I found this to offer a very fast track to relaxation and non-attachment/non-reactivity during the actual sit. I have a feeling that different meditation techniques work for different people. They are a bit like shoes. You have to try them on to see if they fit you. This, at least, kind of matches your description and works well for quite a few people.

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