The Need for an Open Heart

It's International Yoga Day, making this the perfect opportunity to discuss one of my favorite parts of the yogic philosophy, which is incredibly pertinent to our current cultural situation: the call for compassion. Though Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras even before 400CE, their relevance to modern society is incredible. And, as you can imagine, there are various translations of the text, but Swami Satchidananda translates Yoga Sutra 1.33 as such:

By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind retains its undisturbed calmness.

This Sutra refers to the "four keys" that open the "four locks" of the world: sukha (happy people), dukha (unhappy people), punya (the virtuous), and apunya (the wicked). At any given moment, you, or someone you come in contact with, can embody one of these four locks. But, you can avoid or free yourself from them with their respective keys: maitri (friendliness), karuna (compassion), mudita (delight), or upekshanam (disregard). When I first read this sutra, I looked up some other translations, as well. When I read this next one, which was so wildly relevant to me, personally, at the time, I was literally brought to tears: one way to purify the mind and increase serenity is to practice compassion in the face of suffering.

The Dalai Lama said that, "Through compassion, you find that all human beings are like you." It speaks to not judging a man before walking a mile in his shoes; it also alludes to treating anyone and everyone with kindness, in a way you'd wish to be treated in return; it calls us to live with a level of awareness for oneself and others.

Compassion, in itself, is a sign of strength.

Compassion hurts. It makes you feel connected to everything, makes you feel responsible for everything in a gripping way (emotional attachment). We're challenged on the daily to be strong enough to love, honor and respect our own beings, and every other being. We have to be mindful of the possible hurt that s/he holds, unbeknownst to the world. We have to respect differences of opinion, culture, religion, gender, race, sexuality...

There is nobility in compassion; there is beauty in empathy; and there is grace in forgiveness. It is believed that compassion is the expression of your highest self. So, I'm calling you to open your heart, to practice compassion--for your own peace of mind, and for the sake of everyone else in your life (currently and to come).

Start with movement--a tangible, measurable practice--and open the heart chakra by flowing through this 'open heart' sequence I put together for you: