This is an extract from ‘Yoga and Kriya: A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques’ by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, part of the esteemed Bihar School of Yoga.
I find this very poignant in today’s stressful world. Sometimes taking a few moments out to try and consider the big picture and that we, in fact, are the only ones that can dictate how we feel can really change our perspective.
Try a few and let me know how you get on!
Make the effort to begin to accept other people fully. Try not to see them merely as objects to be used for your own gratification. Try to accept others as also acting in accordance with their mental conditioning. What you see in them is only an external manifestation of their mental program. In this way they are no different from yourself, except their program may be a little different. You are now aware of your dependence on your mental conditioning; perhaps they don’t realize it yet. If you can accept others more they in turn will start to accept you. Laugh at yourself, at your behaviour and at your antics.
Accept yourself. Know that your actions are the result of your mental makeup. For this reason don’t worry about your deficiencies and problems. Accept your limitations. But at the same time feel the need to clean the mind of its conflicts. It is our inability to accept ourselves that causes so much anguish in life.
Watch your habituated reactions to people around you and to your environment. Watch how your attachment to the external can result in so much discontentment. Try to reduce your need to find happiness in outside things. This does not mean that you should not follow external attractions for this would result in suppression, which causes more harm than good. It means that you should carry on your life as it is now, but if you don’t get what you want then accept it with a shrug of the shoulders, with a sense of detachment.
Find out your greatest needs, attachments, desires, etc. Be as critical as you can. A good method of discovering your attachments is to trace the cause of your present anger or your present unhappiness back to its source and there you will find the emotional and mental attitude that caused the disturbance. Particularly notice how you react with people whom you distinctively dislike or don’t get on with. These persons will help you to recognize and to eventually remove your emotional hangups. View the whole world and everyone in it as being your teacher.
Try to live in the now. Don’t live in the past by worrying about what has already happened or by reliving pleasurable past experiences. Don’t anticipate the future. Plans can be made, but see the planning as being part of the now, not as really being for the future. Try to live each moment, each present moment as fully as possible by giving your attention to the now. In this way you will start to live life to the fullest. When you do anything, from taking a bath to eating food, or sweeping the floor to earning your living, try not to think of when it will be finished. Enjoy every action that you do at the time that you do it. Try to enjoy the fact that you exist and that an expression of your existence is in your every action.
Don’t identify yourself completely with your actions, your body or your mind. Though you are trying to change your mind, it is only part of you. It is not your consciousness – the witness that sees all events that occur in your life. Most of us identify ourselves completely with our minds and bodies. We ignore the consciousness that lies behind everything we do. As we purify our mind and body we will begin to see and identify ourselves with this underlying consciousness.
Try to be more open towards other people. Express your true feelings as much as possible. When we try to be what we are not, when we try to impress people and when we hide our inner feelings from others, we immediately experience mental tension and alienation. This tends to intensify our feelings of ‘me against the world’. Remember also that even the most insensitive person can detect to a degree if you are trying to hide something, or if you have a guilty secret, for he might also be hiding or have hidden the same type of guilty secret.
Remember that everyone has the potential to attain higher levels of awareness. A man’s present attitude towards his environment or
toward you is caused by mental programming. His present mode of living is temporary” and will change and become more harmonious if and when he starts to understand himself and his mind. All of us have unrealized potential just waiting to be tapped. Try to see this potential in all people, no matter how difficult it may be.
Don’t avoid difficult situations. Normally we shape our lives so that we interact with people we dislike as little as possible. We continually try to associate ourselves with people and situations which tune in with our emotional programming. As such we continue to live in a way that reinforces and satisfies our individual prejudices. Treat difficult situations and enemies as the greatest teachers. It is they who can show us most clearly the way in which our mental program works. It is our enemies who bring to the surface our emotional conflicts and prejudices. Very few of us are really aware of programming and conditioning. When we recognize it then we can start to deal with it.
Try to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Instead of blindly reacting in ways that you are programmed, try to see the other person’s
point of view. For example, if a person leaves the door open you may become angry. Instead of becoming angry ask yourself why he left the door open. Perhaps he was in a hurry. Perhaps he was thinking of some other business. Perhaps it is part of his mental programming to leave doors open; maybe he was brought up in a house that did not have doors. Also it is your programming to become angry when someone leaves the door open. Remember your reaction is purely automatic. Try to change your response so that doors that are left open don’t cause emotional upsets. Apply this to other situations in your life.