Pacifying the Mind – 9 Ways To Reduce Suffering
Pacifying the mind: Nine ways to Reduce Suffering
The Sutra of Patanjali represent a predominantly atheistic and experiential reflection of the Four Vedas. The Vedas themselves are seated within Hinduism and represent four areas of: ritual; gaining and sharing of knowledge; devotion through music; and removal of that which is harmful (through lifestyle, diet and medicine).
The writings of Patanjali are approximately 5000 years old. There is uncertainty as to whether Patanjali was indeed one person, or a group of persons. What was produced by this entity were four chapters of Yoga Sutra which serve as threads of knowledge offering guidance to the reader on possibilities to reduce suffering in life.
Each time I engage with these sutra I am amazed at how relevant they continue to be. So much so that I would love to take this opportunity to share them with you in the hopes you might also gain from their wisdom.
Please keep in mind that they were originally written in Sanskrit and therefore the meanings of some words are difficult to translate directly. What is written below are the meanings that resonate the most to me.
1.23 Surrender to that which is beyond your power
– When something is beyond your control – release it with the acceptance that you no longer have a power over it. To hold on increases ones personal anguish without having any impact on the situation.
1.32 Keep to a single principle/method/practice
– There are many ways to achieve your goal. If you keep changing your method it is as though you are climbing a mountain. If you continue on your path up the mountain you will make progress (even if it doesn’t always feel that way). If you begin and then keep returning to the bottom of the mountain in order to try a different path the journey to the top will take much longer. This sutra asks us to remain focused and persevere on our journey.
1.33 Meet happiness with friendliness; darkness with compassion; good things with joy; and bad things with indifference (equanimity).
– The sutra of relationships, also known as the four locks and four keys.
* Meet happiness with friendliness
* Meet darkness (sadness, grief, disappointment) with compassion (kindness, warmth and gentleness)
* Be joyous for the good things that occur for yourself and others
* Develop indifference or a sense of equanimity to those things that do not go to plan
1.34 Take a long exhale/exhale and hold
– This one’s fairly self-explanatory J When we exhale it helps the body to release toxins such as carbon dioxide. When we exhale and briefly hold the breath out of the body it calms the mind.
1.35 Enquire in to the impact of the senses on consciousness
– Take time to engage with your sight, hearing, taste, touch and sense of smell. What is happening around you and how does this impact your current state of being? This can also involve activities such as self-reflection and journaling.
1.36 Focus on the sorrow-less luminosity within (your inner light)
– Re-connect to the light within your heart (can be done as a visualisation); recalling and acknowledging your positive personal qualities, strengths and achievements.
1.37 Focus on someone else’s inner light
– If you are having trouble connecting to your own inner light, allow yourself to be inspired by someone who already possesses the qualities you are looking to increase within yourself.
1.38 Use knowledge from dreams/dreamless state
– Keep a dream journal, sit somewhere peaceful or engage in Yoga Nidra as a powerful tool for deep relaxation and healing.
1.39 Use whatever is agreeable to meditate upon
– Find your peaceful thought/place. Whether it be hiking, swimming, jogging, meditating, practicing yoga, or any other activity that allows you to rest your full attention with yourself.
These nine pacifications can be applied in many ways to our everyday live in order to reduce suffering and support growth at physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual levels. The above represents only a brief overview of each pacification. If you are interested in further support in application of the pacifications and related concepts to your own life I would love to work with you.
Desikachar, T.K.V (1995) The Heart of Yoga: Developing a personal practice. Inner traditions international (Rochester, Vermont).
Davis, L. (2014) YIMI – Meditation course notes
Feuerstein, G. (1989) The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: A new translation and commentary. Inner traditions international (Rochester, Vermont).
Roberts, C. (2014) YIMI – Meditation course notes