Cindy is teaching a four-session workshop at Sunrise Yoga in Winston-Salem from Friday, Nov. 1 – Sunday, November 3. Striking a Pose Toward Inner Freedom: Yoga and the Four Immeasurables blends hatha yoga asana with teachings on friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. In combination, these practices can lead to a path through life of personal growth, awakening, clarity, and freedom.
You can register for all four sessions for $190 (by 10/18), or for $210 thereafter. Individual sessions can be purchased separately. See the Sunrise Yoga Workshop page for more.
I’ve focused my attention the last few months on the practice of equanimity, one of the four Buddhist immeasurables, along with loving-kindness, compassion, and joy. Equanimity in this context means to have a clear-minded tranquil state of mind, striving to avoid being overpowered by delusions, mental dullness, or agitation. It is the ground of wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. Although some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being, beyond like and dislike, without bias and opinion. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as “abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will.”
The cultivation of loving kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity can open the heart, counter the distortions in our relationships to ourselves, and deepen our relationships to others. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
I’ve explored my relationship with each of these qualities as my thoughts and emotions have bounced around during the move this summer to my new home in Weaverville. I’ve had many opportunities to watch my mind bounce between like and dislike as I chose what to pack and move. The practice of even-mindedness has helped me to stay on track without second guessing the decision—except for maybe a few times as I unloaded box after box. I have collected a lot of yoga books over the years!
“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.”
Currently, I’m packing yet again. This time I’m traveling to Southern Dharma Retreat Center to teach a 4-day workshop that starts on Wednesday evening, Aug. 14. Don’t worry! The fabulous Lindsay Majer will cover the 6pm class at 191 Murdock Ave so you’ll be in good hands. I’m grateful to Lindsay for being the guest teacher many times this year as I’ve traveled the globe. I’m staying put for a while when I return, and plan to teach workshops closer to home.
I’ve taught a Buddhist study and yoga practice workshop at Southern Dharma for over a decade. Each time I prepare, I deepen my understanding of the practices I will be sharing, while discovering again the myriad ways that Buddhism and yoga support one another. For instance, here are two translations of yoga sutra I-33:
“Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy, and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favourably disposed, serene, and benevolent.”
I wish you a calm and serene mind. The practice of equanimity pays off.
Practice is key. Stay steady. Your mind is trainable, no matter what it thinks.
For days, I’ve been writing in my head and on paper. When the time to write a blog post approaches, I watch my mind try to think of something wise to impart. The truth is, my mind (“the” mind) isn’t that wise. The heart holds the wisdom. So today as I write, I’m doing my best to let the heart speak.
My heart is full. Since my sister Carrie, died on December 5, 2018, I’ve received an outpouring of love in the form of letters, cards, texts, and calls. I received a small toy stuffed owl, a white feather, a silver butterfly pin, and a special origami crane. And hugs… oh, my goodness. I’ve received hugs by the dozens. I give them right back.
When I mentioned these kindnesses to a close friend, she remarked that she was happy to be reminded that human beings are kind; that they are loving. I agree: loving-kindness stands along with compassion, joy, and equanimity as one of the four “immeasurables” inherent in each of us. However, sometimes we confuse these pure qualities with what are called their “near enemies”—attachment, pity, indulgence, and indifference.
Wise ones say that even the non-virtuous carry the four immeasurables, although greed, doubt, ill will, or plain old laziness can block their expression. I suspect that each of us has experienced confusion at some time due to these hindrances. I know that I have.
Right now, though, I’m experiencing the kindness, generosity, and open-heartedness of people on a daily basis. Family friends from childhood have reached out to my sister, Jennie, and me with stories of playing board games with us while drinking Mom’s iced tea. Mom’s childhood friend, Anne, came to Carrie’s Thing, reminiscing about birthday parties and watching the Dollar girls grow up. I rejoice in these memories.
At the same time, I stay present and I move on. I get on the yoga mat and move my body. I sit still in meditation. I cry. I laugh. I hug. I carry on. I remind myself to look for kindness and goodness in all beings, not only the ones who reach out to me. I look especially closely if I don’t see those qualities at first. Like clouds covering the sun, obstacles may obscure our inherent traits for a time. May we each stay present and keep looking—inside and out. Like the sun, the four immeasurables can shine through each of us.