Acharya Goenka likens equanimity and awareness to the wings of a bird. They must both be equally strong for the meditator to progress. One wing is stronger than the other then you are held up by the weaker wing. Until now, it seems to me that I have been focussing more on awareness rather than on equanimity. This has implications for daily practice.
I have some theories as to how I might have picked up this bias towards awareness over equanimity. Most probably it is because of my internal biases. Maybe it is because my mind perceives statements such as be aware, or do nothing just observe to be sexy. Perhaps it perceives statements such as be detached as cold and boring and unglamorous. Whatever. All that is immaterial. Fact is that I have noticed this bias and it is time to change.
When I sit down to observe sensations, I automatically crave sensations. I don’t care pleasant or unpleasant or neutral. I just want sensations. Any sensations. No blank spots. Somehow my mind has locked to the idea that having sensations all over is a sign of progress or a great Yogi. Laughable right? The moment i start to observe, it begins this craving. it’s automatic. Part of my DNA now.
From now on when you sit down, let’s have a few minutes of anapana to bring some focus. Then generate the will to avoid raving and aversion and if it has arisen, to eradicate it. Once you notice that you have a certain equanimity, stay there for a minute or so to generate some momentum. Now start body scanning. During every moment of body scanning, at least half the mind must make efforts to avoid craving and aversion. Moment to moment, you must be aware whether you are craving or in aversion and moment to moment you must strengthen the will to not crave or have aversion. The rest of the mind must observe body sensations and be aware of them. After a few minutes of this, there will be some momentum regarding both awareness and equanimity. Then impermanence becomes easy to perceive. At first, you may not be able to perceive impermanence from moment to moment. In that case some intellectualization may be required. For instance during one round of scanning, you are at the leg and you notice a pain in the calves. Then in the next round when you return to the legs, you see that the pain in the calves has either subsided or moved. You know there has been change. You just make your mind aware of this phenomena, This may not be moment to moment awareness of impermanence, but it will build some momentum towards observing impermanence and will lead to that.
When i take walks or am eating or in conversation or in a bus or a train, it is more important for me to be non reactive rather than to observe sensations. Non reaction is the skill I need more in my daily life as I deal with delays, frustrations, other people, colleagues, bosses, government regulations, disappointments etc. It is only when I feel that i have generated some small momentum in equanimity that I move to body sensations. This will allow me to strengthen my equanimity. They both do help each other.