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by Magali Lehners | March, 2024

maitrī karuṇā mudito-pekṣāṇāṁ-sukha-duḥkha puṇya-apuṇya-viṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaḥ citta-prasādanam

The mind becomes tranquil and clear by cultivating a happy attitude of friendliness toward those who appear happy, compassion toward those who appear to be suffering joy toward the virtuous and an attitude of neutrality toward those who appear to be negative or cruel.

PYS 1.33

In the tapestry of human interactions, conflicts often arise from miscommunication. The seeds of misunderstanding sprout when we hesitate to express our true thoughts, fearing the potential repercussions. We grapple with uncertainty, unsure of our role and the outcome of our honesty. In such moments, clarity becomes elusive, replaced by a partial truth or a pleasing façade. Yet, it is in this veiled expression that we sow the seeds of future strife. As Thich Nath Hanh wisely imparts in ‘The Art of Communicating’: “In a relationship, we are nourishment for each other. So we have to select the kind of food we offer the person, the kind of food that can help our relationships thrive.” This resonates with Patanjali’s guidance in PYS I.33, urging us to maintain peace and clarity in our minds through appropriate reactions.

Patanjali illuminates four keys: friendliness, compassion, delight, and disregard. When faced with another’s success, jealousy may cloud our hearts. This emotion stems from a fear of inadequacy, threatening our serenity. Similarly, when someone shares their suffering, our tendency to judge only compounds their pain. Embracing the virtuous talents of others, without diminishing them, allows us to rise together. We find equanimity in the face of negativity, choosing compassion over anger. This approach, rooted in understanding rather than condemnation, preserves our peace. Behind this insecurity lies a myriad of causes, yet the Yoga Sutras (PYS I.20- śraddhā-vīrya-smr̥ti samādhi-prajñā-pūrvaka itareṣām) offer a path to address it. Faith (śraddhā), a steadfast conviction, serves as a beacon through life’s trials, infusing every event with purpose and meaning. With conviction, born of self-awareness and study, we embark on a journey to uncover our true purpose. Alongside faith, courage and strength (vīrya) fortify our resolve, ensuring we stand firm in our integrity. Mindfulness (smr̥ti) emerges as a cornerstone in the realm of clear communication. It encompasses an unwavering vigilance, a steadfast remembrance of past lessons, and an acute focus on the present moment. In moments of doubt, it serves as our guiding light, steering us back to our intended path. Through the application of the eight limbs of yoga, we forge a connection between faith and wisdom (prajñā), seeing reality unclouded by fear and expectation.

Thich Nath Hanh reminds us that our words carry the power to nourish or poison. A mindful approach to communication ensures we imbue our interactions with love and compassion, offering sustenance to ourselves and others. The energy of compassion shields us, allowing us to listen without absorbing toxins. Just as mindfulness guards against unhealthy consumption, it extends to our inner dialogue, fostering self-compassion. In the silent spaces between words, wisdom takes root. It is here that we see reality unfiltered, untainted by preconceptions. By cultivating this clarity, we liberate ourselves from the shackles of fear-induced misunderstanding.

Bhagavad Gita 2:38 “Sukha-duhkhe same kritva labhalabhau jayajayau. Tato yuddhaya yujyasva naivam papam avapsyasi” – “Be equal-minded in success and failure, in gain and loss, in victory and defeat. Then only can you be a real yogi.”(Translation by Swami Sivananda) If you interpret this verse in the context of communication, you can draw a parallel to the idea of detached action and balanced communication. In the realm of communication, it suggests that one should strive for equanimity in the face of different responses and reactions. Just as the verse speaks about being undisturbed by pleasure or pain, one should aim to communicate with a steady mind, regardless of how their message is received. For instance, when delivering a message or engaging in a conversation, one should focus on expressing themselves clearly and honestly, without being overly attached to how the other person responds. This means not getting overly elated by praise or approval, nor becoming overly dejected by criticism or disagreement. By practicing this balanced approach to communication, you can free yourself from the fear of rejection or judgment. You realise that your responsibility lies in conveying your message sincerely, and how it’s received is ultimately beyond your control. In essence, the verse suggests that maintaining equanimity in communication allows for more effective and authentic exchanges, as it’s grounded in a sense of duty rather than personal attachment to outcomes. This approach can lead to healthier, more constructive interactions, ultimately promoting understanding and harmony.

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