Yoga Sutra 1.33 says
"By cultivating attitudes of friendliness towards the happy, compassion towards those suffering, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind retains its undisturbed calm."
According to Patanjali, our state of mind isn't something that just happens but something that we must cultivate if we want to keep our minds peaceful.
Similarly, in Buddhism, the four immeasurables are practiced to settle one's mind. According to Buddha, when one radiates loving-kindness, compassion, delight, and equanimity towards all people and things, whether they are pleasant, unpleasant, good or bad, the mind can remain in it's natural state of peacefulness.
This past weekend, I was able to practice this ancient but always current wisdom passed down by the great sages Patanjali and Buddha.
One of my best friends was visiting. She moved away last summer as a result of a very painful divorce.
My friend and I spent two days walking, talking, laughing, and crying.
My mind and heart flowed easily from loving-kindness towards my friend that I care deeply for, to compassion for the suffering caused by the radical changes that occured over the past year, to a state of joy and delight in hearing the successes that she and her children were experiencing despite the hardships that they had to endure.
Loving-kindness, compassion, and delight came easily to me in the presence of the friend that I love and care so deeply about.
What wasn't so easy was when the topic of conversation was the ex husband. I unabashedly blamed him for not only the suffering of my best friend and her children, but I selfishly blamed him for taking my best friend away from me. Just the mention of his name this weekend took me down a slippery slope of anger, hatred, judgement, and condemnation.
Our very limited time together made each moment with my friend even more precious to me, so every time my mind began it's downward spiral, was time that I lost being present to the joy of being with my friend that I miss so dearly.
As much as I may have secretly wanted my mean and vengeful thoughts to hurt the "wicked" ex husband and change the situation that my friend and her kids were in, I would be kidding myself to believe that my judgements and thoughts would make any difference at all. Since I can't change someone else's behavior or circumstances, the only person affected by my disturbing thoughts were me.
It is a waste of time, energy, and our own peacefulness to try to control someone else and make them into who we want them to be. Whether they are happy or sad, virtuous or mean, everyone is responsible for their own actions and attitudes, and the consequences of them.
When I let this "radical acceptance" sink into my mind and heart, I began to have a mind and heart that were at peace despite the actions or behaviors of another. I was able to allow another's "wickedness" to pass through me instead of knocking me off balance. With continued practice, I may even begin to see through the "wicked" behavior of another and feel compassion for their suffering as well.
When we cultivate this state of equanimity we feel pleasure without clinging to it, pain without condemnation or hatred, and an openess and acceptance to all experiences and people including ourselves.
As I sit here writing my blog, I still miss my friend dearly, I still feel compassion for her suffering, I still feel joy in my heart from the time we spent together, and what I don't feel thanks to the wisdom of yoga and my practice of "cultivating disregard for the wicked" is an angry and vengeful heart.
There is a story about a poor farmer whose only horse ran away.
His neighbors came over to lament his bad fortune. They said with great concern, "What bad luck, now you have no horse to plow the fields!" The farmer replied in an even tone, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"
The next day, the horse returned with a herd of wild stallions in tow. The neighbors came over excitedly proclaiming his good fortune. "What good luck, now you have many horses to plow your fields!" The farmer again replied with equanimity, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows."
The next day, the farmer's only son broke his leg while riding one of the wild stallions. The neighbors came over again and said with pity, "What bad luck, now you will have no one to help you in your fields." The farmer had the same response as the day before, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"
The very next day, the army came by looking for able bodied men to go to war. The farmer's son had a broken leg so the men continued their search elsewhere...........This story can go on and on and represents the reality of life's ups and downs.
The Taoist story teaches about the concepts of suchness and equanimity. Accepting the "suchness" of life, (life as it is in the moment) with equanimity (an even mind) gives us an opportunity to experience the ups and downs without getting too caught up in the drama.
Being able to keep our minds steady and even in the midst of a constantly changing "suchness" is a practice that can be quite challenging.
Yoga philosophy recommends "practice" and "detachment" as a way to remain steady and even in our minds.
The farmer in the story was able to remain calm in the face of the good and the bad that came about day to day. This was likely because he was able to "detach" or not cling to the things as they were. He accepted the constantly changing "suchness" as part of life.
The neighbors however, were much more sucked into the drama of it all. Their happiness or lack of it seemed to depend on the drama of the day.
Most of us aren't as skilled as the farmer at staying calm in the face of challenges, but letting go of the drama can keep us more stable in the face of difficulty and change.
Practicing "detachment" doesn't mean that we don't get upset when things are upsetting, or excited when things are exciting, but loosening our grip on life as it changes allows us to stay steady and balanced regardless.
For many people, the holidays bring lots of drama which can make for a very difficult couple of months.
Pay attention to when you get caught up in it and practice "letting go". Don't join in when the drama begins.
Take deep breaths. Go for a walk. Go to a yoga class. Meditate.
Most of all, enjoy life "as it is" in the moment.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras