Divine Abodes, Part 3: Equanimity

Sand with candle and stones

I started out talking about the “Divine Abodes” in a trans and gender-expansive context in this first post, and followed it up with a post about compassion. The Buddhist concept of the “Divine Abodes” is four qualities of heart and mind which I see as qualities that are important for resilience.

The third quality is equanimity (upekkha in Pali). Equanimity is a state of non-reactivity and balance. So what does that really mean? It means that we are able to fully accept things as they are, and respond in ways that are not harmful to ourselves or others.

Equanimity can be a tough one for any marginalized people, and certainly for trans and gender-expansive folks. And it’s important to remember that accepting things as they are does not in any way shape or form mean we are condoning them. For instance, equanimity might mean that we fully accept that a particular family member is going to constantly, on purpose, misgender us. An equanimous, resilient response might be to simply avoid being in their presence. And another one might be to learn to express our anger at them in self-responsible ways: “I get angry when you misgender me. I would like you to respect the pronouns I use.” This may or may not change their behavior – but equanimity means that we have accepted that their behavior may never change.

Cultivating equanimity about our bodies is also important for resilience. Whether or not we’ve chosen medical transition, and no matter what stage we might be in, we have the body we have right now. Can we learn to fully accept our bodies as they are? Even if we’ve scheduled surgery, or started HRT, can we learn to accept that our bodies are as they are in this moment? Can we even learn to accept that we want them to be different? Can we learn to accept our dysphoria as it is? This is cultivating equanimity. Simple, but not easy.

Here are some phrases you might use for an equanimity practice:

May I be balanced. May I learn to accept things as they are. May I be undisturbed by the comings and goings of events. May I be at peace.

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