Weekly Exploration

Every Wednesday evening, our Lakeland Insight Meditation Group (LIMG) delves into the teachings of the Satipatthana Sutta, exploring the four foundations of mindfulness. This week, we ventured further into the fourth foundation, focusing on mindfulness of dhammas (mental processes). Thus far, our journey has encompassed an examination of the five hindrances, the five aggregates, and the six senses. Our current focus is on the seven factors of awakening, having already explored the first six: mindfulness, investigation, energy, joy, and concentration. The initial trio—investigation, energy, and joy—tend to energize us, while the latter trio—tranquility, concentration, and equanimity—encourage a calming of energy. Mindfulness serves as a balancing agent, enhancing the efficacy of all awakening factors. Equanimity, the seventh factor, holds a special place in this transformative equation.

The Essence of Equanimity

The final four factors of awakening—joy, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity—manifest as fruits of sustained meditative practice. Liberating oneself from the hindrances—desire, ill will, restlessness/worry, sloth/torpor, and doubt—is crucial for nurturing these awakening factors. Continuous mindfulness practice, paired with an unwavering attention, facilitates the blossoming of these qualities. For many, including myself, retreat practice has proven invaluable in cultivating these factors.

Equanimity is often considered paramount among these. The Pali term for equanimity, Uppeka, is acknowledged as a universal beautiful factor of the mind. These beautiful factors emerge in every moment of wholesome consciousness, with equanimity sharing the limelight with faith, confidence, non-greed, non-hatred, and mindfulness. The essence of equanimity resonates profoundly in our daily lives, playing a pivotal role on the spiritual path.

Renowned monk Bhikkhu Bodhi translates equanimity as “there in the middleness,” while lay teacher Upasana Kee describes it as “normalcy of mind.” Gil Fronsdal elucidates further:

“The Pali compound tatramajjhattata, often translated as equanimity, encapsulates the idea of ‘standing in the middle of all this.’ This central stance signifies balance, remaining centered amidst the unfolding of life. Such balance emanates from inner strength or stability—a robust presence of inner calm, well-being, confidence, vitality, or integrity—that resembles a ship’s ballast keeping it upright amid turbulent winds. As inner strength burgeons, so does equanimity.”

Reflecting on Personal Experiences

In the nascent years of my meditative practice, navigating marital disagreements was a challenge. Adopting a passive stance against my wife Susan’s assertiveness often led to a perception of aggressiveness. Reminding myself to “not react” served as a useful tool, gradually diminishing my reactive tendencies over the years. Yet, the richness of equanimity extends beyond mere self-talk.

Vipassana meditation encourages an embracing of all that arises within the body and mind. The journey of parenthood, through my cherished daughter Lenora, echoes the challenges posed by my relationship with Susan. Close relationships, with their ability to evoke the best and worst within us, serve as fertile ground for self-exploration. Through mindful inquiry, like asking “Who am I?” or “What is this?” amid the storm of emotions, I’ve learned to navigate the self’s arising and to mitigate insecurities triggered during conflicts. Shifting towards a lovingkindness intention during such moments has fostered a deeper understanding of the self and lessened the grip of adverse mental formations.

Cultivating Equanimity: Practical Steps

Discipline: Establishing a daily sitting practice, maintaining mindfulness throughout the day, and attending retreats even when reluctance arises.

Peace and Balance: Navigating life’s ever-changing conditions—the gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and disrepute, pleasure and pain—with an understanding of reality’s three hallmark characteristics: impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

Mindful Awareness: Observing self-absorption tendencies in daily interactions, discerning unnecessary cravings, and acknowledging minor annoyances without judgment.

Taking Risks: Embracing acts of compassion, generosity, or patience in typically avoided situations, extending help regardless of gratitude received, and willingly tackling mundane or unpleasant tasks to explore and release mental and physical resistance.

Reflecting on Wisdom

Our practice continues to unfold, with more insights awaiting as we deepen our exploration of equanimity and other awakening factors. The teachings of SN Goenka, the 3rd Zen Patriarch, and others continually remind us of the profound simplicity encapsulated in equanimity—“Equanimity is purity, equanimity is purity.” The path towards realizing this purity, devoid of preferences, is an odyssey of mindful exploration and practice, poised to unveil the boundless beauty inherent in equanimity.


  • Carlson, P. Reviewing the Eight Factor of Awakening: Orlando Insight Meditation Group. Link, October 2022.
  • Clark, Diana. Equanimity: Audio Dharma. Link, September 19, 2022.
  • Fronsdal, G. Equanimity: Audio Dharma. Link, December 27, 2020.
  • Goldstein, J. Satipatthana Sutta – part 35 – Factors Of Awakening: Equanimity Dharma Seed. Link, May 2, 2008.
  • King, R. Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism for the Inside Out. Sounds True, June 2018.
  • Sumehdo, Ajahn. The Sound of Silence. Wisdom Publications, 2007.