maitri karuna mudito pekshanam sukha duhkha punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam ||33||
मैत्री करुणा मुदितोपेक्षाणांसुखदुःख पुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातः चित्तप्रसादनम् ॥३३॥
maitrī karuṇā mudito-pekṣāṇāṁ-sukha-duḥkha puṇya-apuṇya-viṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaḥ citta-prasādanam ||33||
All that is mutable in human beings (chitta) is harmonized through the cultivation of love (maitri), helpfulness (karuna), conviviality (mudita) and imperturbability (upeksha) in situations that are happy, painful, successful or unfortunate. ||33||
maitrī = love; congeniality; friendliness
karuṇā = helpfulness; empathy; benevolence
mudito = (from muditā) conviviality; cheerfulness; exuberance
upekṣana = (from upekṣ) imperturbability; indifference
sukha = happiness; enjoyment
duḥkha = painful; suffering
puṇya = successful; recompense
apuṇya = failure; sin
viṣayānam = (acc. viṣayāna) situations
bhāvanātaḥ = (nom. bhāvanāta) cultivation; nurturing; development of deportments
citta = all that is mutable in human beings, including the mind, spirit, feelings, energy and the physical body.
prasādanam = (acc. from prasādana) harmony; clarity; peace
Positive traits eliminate misconceptions
This statement by Patañjali shows us how we can eliminate our misconceptions – namely by developing the following traits in ourselves: love (maitrī), helpfulness (karuṇā), conviviality (mudita) and imperturbability (upekṣa). On closer scrutiny, we see that these traits are also crucial for any successful relationship.
- maitrī means loving acceptance of others. No human relationship is possible without this. If we manifest hate rather than love toward the Other, the relationship will end.
- karuṇā means helpfulness. In any human relationship, mutual assistance is essential. Manifesting indifference toward the Other undermines this give and take.
- mudita means conviviality and friendliness. It’s enjoyable to spend time with people who exhibit these traits. No one wants to have a relationship with a misanthrope.
- upekṣa means imperturbability. In any relationship you’re bound to notice a trait in the other person that’s not to your liking. Imperturbability comes in handy in such situations.
These four basic traits nurture each other, which means that developing one helps to develop all the others.
The most important relationship in your life
Yoga concerns itself with the most important relationship in your life – namely your relationship with yourself. Although loving yourself may sound like a simple matter, many of us often exhibit a lack of maitrī, karuṇā, mudita, and upekṣa.
How yoga classes differ from aerobics classes
The aim of yoga classes is to enable the participant to establish a harmonious relationship with himself. This relationship can be nurtured using a teacher-student approach. Psychologists tell us that most feelings arise as a result of interpersonal relationships. For example, little children first experience their emotions via interaction with their parents.
Hence the main difference between yoga and aerobic classes is that the benefits of the latter are derived from the exercises you do in class and make no pretension to changing your life and enabling you to establish a harmonious relationship with yourself. But it is precisely this change and this relationship that yoga class attendees are seeking, whether they know it or not. And the task of a yoga teacher is to help the participants to achieve this goal.
In my yoga classes, I therefore always try to enable my students to situate the physical aspect of yoga in a spiritual context so that the students can take some of this with them into their everyday lives. The dismissive remark that is often made to the effect that yoga is 99 percent practice outside of class is in fact true. Hence I feel it is important that I always be available to my students if they wish to discuss a particular problem or issue with me. I regard this help and emotional support as being a key task of a yoga teacher, as well as in my capacity as a physician and in my private life.
- I always try to accept other people in a loving fashion (maitrī), and particularly when time is at a premium.
- If someone needs my help, I try to be there for them (karuṇā). This is part of my job as a yoga teacher and physician. In some cases, this help takes a very concrete form, e.g. when I prescribe a drug or therapy. However, when it comes to personal problems I rarely provide specific answers, but instead try to help the student find their own solution.
- mudita means conviviality, which is an important trait for me as a yoga teacher and physician. When I have to give a patient bad news, I nonetheless try to be as upbeat as possible – because after all, how can he be expected to believe in his own recovery if I rob him of all hope from a medical standpoint?
- Of the four key traits, I have the most difficulty cultivating imperturbability (upekṣa) – for example being accepting when a close friend lights up a cigarette. I need to exhibit this same kind of acceptance in cases where a patient refuses to undergo therapy that I feel he needs. This ability to accept a person as they are is a sign of a good relationship.
Following are some techniques for developing these key qualities (maitrī, maruṇā, mudita and upekṣa) that might be useful for future yoga teachers:
To rid myself of rancor concerning an experience or person, I imagine that I am connected to this experience or person by a thread. I then project love onto this experience/person, express gratitude for the gift of knowledge, imagine the thread being cut and the experience/person moving away from me and no longer being part of my inner experience.
Some teachers have told me that this technique has proven extremely useful for handling difficult students and has greatly improved their interpersonal relationships in that people with whom they had experienced problems in the past suddenly became endearing and open. Patañjali reports on this phenomenon as well.
Whether or not a situation, entity or person is successfully or unsuccessfully identified depends on its/their emotional proximity and our expectations. [YS IV.17]
The cultivation of , karuṇā, mudita and upekṣa changes this perception.
Each and every one of my thoughts, feelings and actions transmit wave-like circles that can arouse joy and radiate love. Finding the path to love in myself energizes me and allows me to give freely of myself. The key to achieving this is my capacity to recognize the sacred being that we all are in myself and others.