The last words of the Buddha to his disciples as they gathered to say goodbye included: ‘Be an island to yourself’. This sense of autonomy, quiet and steadiness are certainly needed in times of uncertainty, anxiety, conflict and difficulty. But how can we stay quiet and yet speak our voice and go out and make change in the world? Isn’t an island also an image of separateness when we actually want to practice mindfulness in order to restore intimacy with life? But in that case how do we avoid getting upset, and overwhelmed by circumstances, such as conflict, injustice and suffering? How do we develop a protection which is not an external armour and a thick skin?
The answer is in the powerful and sublime teachings of equanimity. This is a core teaching: equanimity is one of the Brahman Viharas, the immeasurable powers of the heart, and the last and highest of the Factors of Awakening. It is our capacity to be light and free and dance with change. How can we practice it? In this day we will explore what is equanimity, how to recognise and appreciate it, and how it can be developed. We will explore this theme by means of meditations and contemplation, a dharma talk and discussions, and verbal and silent exercises, using examples from our daily life such as conflict.