Sutra 33 from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is a cracker. Simple, effective and costs nothing to put into practice. Returns for you are a peaceful, undisturbed mind.
Rather than being in reaction to information received through the senses, being hot or cold, being affected by things adversely such as bad odour, taste or sudden sounds/movements, instead, you could be present and knowing that you are experiencing them. No like or dislike. Knowing that you are not the experience, but the experiencer.
You may notice that…
I am not the cold felt on the skin, heat in the mind (anger/frustration), fragrance, flavour or vision. Nor am I sounds.
You might know…
the above as the experience. Know that you are experiencing them. Appreciate the qualities of the experience while at the same time being aware of yourself. You will have a deeper understanding of the experience and yourself, rather than thinking you are the emotion arising from the stimulus or the stimulus itself. This is one way of cultivating awareness or mindfulness.
This would mean…
that you are ok with the way things are. Contentment. If the experience is to be endured, this attitude will allow you to accept things as they are, and have less reaction, a more calm, peaceful experience and mind, along with a deep appreciation of the experience, and to continue on with life.
If we try to avoid things we immediately set ourselves up for difficulty and tension.
Patanjali’s 33rd sutra (chapter one)…
describes a method by which the mind is made peaceful and can remain undisturbed. Awareness is needed, and it will take a little effort on your part, but so does trying to avoid things such as pleasant or unpleasant feelings, which creates tension and disturbance! Patanjali describes an attitudinal awareness, attitudes you might have toward different situations, events and people, that will leave you with this desirable state of mind. It is desirable not only for normal day to day happiness, but also for progress in yogic pursuits and for many a spiritual path. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras it is described as one method for the removal of obstacles in the path of yoga.
Sutra 33: Cultivation of opposite virtues
In Four Chapters On Freedom, a commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Swami Satyananda says that you cannot practise concentrating the mind unless it is made peaceful in nature. He goes on to say that the best way to achieve this state of mind is told within this sutra, 33. He says that by cultivating then ‘maintaining this attitude, that is, friendliness to the happy, compassion for the unhappy, gladness about the virtuous and indifference to those who are full of vice, the mind of the aspirant becomes free from the disturbing influences and as a result it becomes peaceful and undisturbed’.
Swami Satyananda goes on to describe some of the different feelings that cause disturbance in the mind and their effect of coming in the way of peace and meditation.
How does it work? Swami Satyananda again, ‘The fourfold attitude which he [Patanjali] asks us to develop gives rise to inner peace by the removal of the disturbing factors, not only from the conscious level, but also from the deepest parts of the subconscious’.