We are approaching the end of the year. It is time to reflect. We may look back onto what we have done, how we have been to others and to ourselves, where we are headed, and so on.
Regardless of the conclusions we reach, the Yoga Sutras offer a formula to cultivate peace of mind, especially in our relationships with others and with ourselves, as more often than not these present massive areas of friction.
Maitri karuna mudito upeksanam sukha dukha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatah citta prasadanam (1.33)
For our mind to be free our disturbances in spite of, there are four qualities that we are advised to put into practice based on what we encounter:
Maitri: Friendliness towards those who are Happy
Karuna: Compassion towards those in Pain
Mudito: Joy for the Virtuous
Upeksa: Equanimity towards the Unvirtuous
Maitri, being kind with someone who is happy. Whether the source of their happiness resonates with oneself or not is irrelevant. It’s just being kind.
Karuna means cultivating compassion towards those in pain. Like wounded animals, damaged people are potentially harmful; feel free to put in this category those who have done you wrong :) Compassion leads to Forgiveness, and Forgiveness sets us free. This means forgiving oneself too.
Mudito is the cultivation of joy towards virtue, whereas Upeksa is the take-no-action quality that we can always resort to when coming up against loose or dubious morals. Wrongdoing is going to exist, it doesn’t have to exist in our minds too.
These four qualities, which mirror the Buddhist teaching, hold the key to a happier life. This is precisely what the statement “Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it” means.
The above are supposed to be applied to all our relationships, also our most intimate ones, the ones with ourselves. These premises, even though simple (not easy!) are powerful, as they can change our experience of life for good. In particular, Compassion and equanimity can go a long way, also in our yoga practice.
Accepting our shortcomings instead of beating ourselves up for not being perfect (what does being perfect even mean?), so practice becomes a source of nourishment, steadiness and wisdom -instead of suffering and self judgement.
When challenged on the yoga mat, we are being given the opportunity to see our setbacks as allies to cut through our bondage, so slowly slowly we become a bit less confused and a bit more wise.
Let’s be grateful for the little bumps on the road. Let’s see them for what they are, not for something worse than they are. Let’s be kind, honest and understanding with ourselves. Let’s have compassion, forgive, and embrace who we are. Right here, Right now.
Happy week xo