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    Yoga Sutra Verse of the Week YS 1.33 Steadying the Mind Through Equanimity In Relationships

    1.33 Using our relationships, we can purify the mind by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion towards those who are suffering, delight toward those who are kind and benevolent, and equanimity towards those whom we perceive as wicked or hateful.

    This sutra is one of several in the first section that describes different methods of stabilizing the mind and clearing the mind of resistant thought as preparation for samadhi, or integrated and comprehensive awareness.

    This particular sutra is aimed at one aspect of what is called kriya-yoga, or yoga in action, in which we make use of everyday life as an opportunity to practice yoga. Here we have a summary of the teaching of how cultivating an appreciative disposition towards the virtues or or a neutral attitude toward what we see as deficits of others supports our own peace and well-being.

    At the heart of the practice is the use of attention and focus as a way to deliberately attune oneself to positive values. To observe is to attune, so by practicing discrimination as to what and how we observe, we attune our energy and being to the aspects of our experience that are worthwhile, and fade our connection to things in our experience that are less than worthwhile.

    In this practice we internally refrain from competing with, condemning or being upset by what we see as undesirable or wrong in other people. We acknowledge what seems wrong, we respond to it and deal with it, but without internal resistance, without negativity, without losing our own sense of peace, poise and well-being.

    Purification of the mind-flow means the release of upset, tension, opposition — all aspects of mental and emotional resistance as a way of opening up to and supporting positive or life-supporting values in the flow of life. It’s one part of learning to focus primarily on the resources and positive aspects that are abundant in everyday life and not focusing on what we perceive to be negative aspects of everyday life.

    Happy people, appreciative people, are people who are aligned with life in a positive, productive way. Unhappy, wicked people have lost their connection with well-being, both inside and outside of themselves, and even when they achieve their aims they fail to live well. The virtuous see only virtue. The wicked see only wickedness. The world is as you are.

    By attuning oneself to the virtues of friendliness, compassion and delight, we attune ourselves to be able to see the world from a place of joy and well-being. We focus on the good, and the good increases.

    Patanjali gives us a road map of how to proceed in a world where we encounter people in different stages of alignment with Nature. He encourages us to align and attune with the happy, to be patient with and forgiving of the unhappy, and calm and steady and refrain from hating or condemning the wicked. To hate hate is to become hateful.

    The central idea being that one should dwell on what is wanted and what is rewarding, and not dwell on or resist what is not wanted or painful.

    When we resist those who are themselves resistant, or when we resist our own resistance, through criticism or complaint, we merely add to our difficulties. By welcoming, appreciating and selectively focusing on what’s worthwhile or good in any situation, we keep our own sanity and connection to what is good in us.

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