1.33: maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatah citta prasadanam

The mind will be undisturbed if you can cultivate the attitudes of friendliness towards the happy, compassion towards those in pain, delight for those with good fortune and impartiality towards negative people.

Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras are so much more than a guide to yoga practice. When we first meet the Sutras, those that seem important are probably the ones that guide us to establish a practice beyond asana that includes meditation, pranayama and a yogic life style based on the Yamas and Nyamas. However, as we delve deeper into this sacred text, we can see how it offers guidance on many levels.

We would probably all agree that one of the main challenges we face on a daily basis is dealing with other people! Sutra 1.33 offers us the key to peace of mind in relationships: be friendly to the joyful, be compassionate to those experiencing difficulties, be happy for the success of others and don’t let the dissonance of some people affect you.

We practice equanimity on the mat and this Sutra encourages us to take it out into the world. It is telling us that one of the goals of yoga practice is to develop the means to not be affected, not to be knocked off balance, by the people around us. But this is not just a goal, it is also a measure. We can see over time how we can develop the tools to become more skillful in our interactions with others. Is our yoga practice helping us to be a better person? It’s not always easy!

It may be easy to be friendly towards happy people and feel natural to offer compassion to those in anguish – but can you put aside jealousy to be genuinely joyful for those who appear more fortunate than you? And, more challengingly – can you be equanimous and remain undisturbed when confronted by those who spread harm and disharmony? This doesn’t mean you feel no emotion when confronted by conflict or by shocking situations; the aim is to not have your peace of mind disturbed.

This Sutra can be incredibly useful in daily life. When you are interacting with friends and work colleagues and feel your peace of mind being disturbed, remember the key words: friendliness, compassion, joy and equanimity.