The Brahmaviharas and Lovingkindness

As I continue my journey through some key sutras in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, I come today to Sutra 1:33 - and the one I will dwell on for the next three weeks in my yoga classes. I include three translations that I am using:

"By cultivating attitudes of friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard towards the wicked, the mind retains its undisturbed calmness."
~ Swami Satchidananda

"To preserve openness of heart and calmness of mind, nurture these attitudes:
Kindness to those who are happy
Compassion for those who are less fortunate
Honor for those who embody noble qualities
Equanimity to those whose actions oppose your values."
~ Nischala Joy Devi

"The mind becomes clear and serene when the qualities of the heart are cultivated: friendliness toward the joyful, compassion toward the suffering, happiness towards the pure, and impartiality toward the impure."
~ Alistair Shearer

The "brahmaviharas" are four states of mind or qualities variously translated as lovingkindness (metta), compassion (karuna), joy (mudita), and equanimity (upekksha). Truly, a dissertation could be written about each one of these. Cultivating these qualities settles the mind and combats disturbances - and culminates in serenity. To embody them fully is a life-long journey.

Today, we focused on the first one as a theme - metta - or lovingkindness...

In order to practice lovingkindness towards others, we must first begin by doing this practice for ourselves. How can we truly love others - or accept their love towards us - if we do not have love and acceptance and respect for ourselves first? We must always seek within first. It is, after all, what all spiritual traditions teach.

So today, take a moment to sit in meditation or quiet reflection, and practice lovingkindness for yourself:

"May I be happy.
May I be peaceful.
May I be safe from harm.
May I enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May I experience ease and well-being in body, mind, and spirit

May I be free from suffering.
May I hold myself with softness and care.
May I respond to suffering with compassion."

If you wish to be the change you want to see in the world, practice lovingkindness for yourself first. Only then, will you be ready to do it for others.

(Lovingkindness practice excerpted from "Love in Full Bloom," by Frank Jude Boccio)

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