Sri Krishna says: jitātmanaḥ praśhāntasya paramātmā samāhitaḥ
śhītoṣhṇa-sukha-duḥkheṣhu tathā mānāpamānayoḥ (Bhagavad Gita: 6.7)
Yogis who have conquered their mind rise above the dualities of hot and cold, joy and sorrow, honour and dishonour. Such yogis remain peaceful and steadfast in their life. They perform their duties in a detached way, knowing well that the fruits of their action are not in their hands. But they have the choice to do their best. Therefore, they neither fear nor are depressed about the future.
If a person has acquired the ability to remain calm and peaceful when he faces dualities like success and failure, joy and grief, life and death, he has attained the state of Sthit pragya. Sthit pragya is the state similar to the focus of a stork waiting for hours on one leg to catch fish. It has reached a state when it knows that its hard work is sure to yield results. On days when it’s unable to catch a fish, it doesn’t make a difference to the stork.
Acquiring the ability to train the mind to remain calm in conflicting situations and act wisely is essential to our survival. Fortunately, nature, too, helps us to get over situations which may devastate us. Time heals all wounds. With so many things happening simultaneously in our life, we are left with no time to mourn over our losses. Moreover, nature has provided us with a default system that helps us to move forward.
A true yogi looks at struggles and conflicts with detachment, unlike others who get agitated and are rendered incapable of thinking rationally. But quite often, our reactions are not because of an immediate provocation, but a trigger of impressions from our memories.
Take the example of your child, who may innocently tear a page of a favourite book that you were reading. Your immediate reaction is anger, without understanding that the child tore a page, innocently, without malice. Your reaction of anger is based not only on the immediate provocation, but to some past incident when as a child, one of your siblings, older perhaps and a bully, had torn a page of your favourite book, maliciously.
Your reaction to your innocent child tearing a page indicates your sense of attachment to the book. It is natural to become angry when something we enjoy is snatched from us. But a yogi deals with such situations with equanimity.
We all cannot aspire to become yogis. But we must try to think rationally when we face losses, because nothing is permanent. So if something untoward happens, we should detach ourselves. First, apply this at the workplace. Be detached from promotions at work, and hold no grudges against your boss for bypassing you. Instead change your attitude to your superiors, peers and subordinates and work harder than before without expecting anything in return. When this too fails, look for opportunities elsewhere. The world is a big place and you will never be disappointed if you send out positive strokes to the Universe.
I have seen people swearing when stuck in a traffic jam. Either listen to music or talk to a co-traveller in such a situation, as you cannot change it. If somebody insults you, it is better to be witty and answer back humorously, instead of engaging in verbal debate or end in physical abuse.
Do not get too attached to trivialities. When I travelled in local trains in Mumbai, I have seen commuters fighting over a window seat, believing it is their right to have a particular window seat every day. And when somebody else took it, that spoiled their mood. Such extreme attachment can only add to the stress of travelling. Claiming exclusivity to a window seat is but a manifestation of our possessive nature. Possessions are not permanent. What is today with you may not be with you tomorrow.
Another form of attachment is to be obsessed with your ‘Likes’. Likes and dislikes are a matter of personal choice, based on our perceptions and we should avoid imposing it on others. But a mature person, with yogic qualities, is also open to doing what may not be to his liking. This situation applies to the workplace. What if in your organisation, you have been included in a project, which you don’t particularly like? You may be left with no choice but to graciously accept it as part of a team effort. Instead of grumbling, make an effort to enjoy the project. If you can do this, then you are truly on the right path.
At times, we are more concerned about how people or society would react to our actions. While respecting societal norms, we must remember that people can inspire us, but never rule our minds, for we are the masters of our own mind. However, disagreements should never be conveyed with rudeness. Be humble and straightforward and kind in all communication. Let our actions speak more than our tongues.
Acceptance of others’ views, even when they don’t fit into our scheme of things, is important if we want to live in harmony with people. If we cannot handle relationships, it is good to contemplate in solitude and examine our thoughts. In times of struggle, what if the best of our friends decide to leave us stranded? Sometimes introspection will reveal that it is so because we were so obsessed with ourselves that we were oblivious to their presence and assumed that they will understand our mood tantrums.
Develop the habit to meditate, contemplate or introspect on the different aspects of life, which need immediate attention. Then we will be capable of thinking of solutions and stopping our problems from being aggravated. Gradually, we should build trust in our virtues and remember that it is the inherent goodness within ourselves that will help us sail through difficult times. God blesses those who help themselves. So expect God to bless us with peace and harmony, if we are honest with ourselves―therefore, look within, before finding fault with others.
Seema Saxena is a B.Sc in microbiology, and also a B.Ed. She was brought up and educated in Mumbai. Seema is an avid writer and blogger who writes about practicality and spirituality in life. She is now settled in Jaipur.