and Equanimity toward the Wicked
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.33
By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are happy, compassion toward those in distress, joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are not virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind.
Like most, I am beyond troubled by the aggressive and hostile extremes of this election season. I am repulsed by Donald Trump. I hate how he looks: a fat, self-satisfied, narcissistic bully. I despise what he stands for: closed-minded racism, misogyny, bigotry. I fear what could happen if he were to be elected: a pendulum swing to the right with a reversal of our rights.
I have struggled with the righteous posturing, the lack of listening, and a disturbing move away from rational centrist humane compassion, frankly, by all of us. When my feelings of anger and revulsion are active and intense, I wonder how to reconcile this with my yoga practice. Is it yogic to hate Donald Trump?
One of the yoga sutras, 1.33, suggests that we cultivate equanimity when faced with nonvirtuous people and their wickedness. This is difficult. How do we deal with bullies, rapists, dictators, killers, kidnappers, terrorists … with equanimity? Torture them, go to war with them, destroy them? Tempting isn’t it? I understand that point of view. Certainly, we must take a stand for what is right. We must. But there must be something other than violence and divisiveness…if our world is going to survive.
Saddled with this dilemma, what to do with my rage and anxiety while being true to my desire to be a compassionate and peaceful human being, I started wondering how yoga could impact Donald Trump. (I do believe people can change.)
What would I do if Donald Trump walked into my yoga class?
I would welcome him. After all, anyone who comes to a yoga class has some curiosity and interest in becoming healthy. Whole.
We would have a brief seated centering. I don’t think he can sit still for very long. I’d have him center his head (it’s always tilted uncomfortably to his right) and rest his hands on his thighs, in stillness. (Those hands always pointing so aggressively!) I’m not sure he can tolerate closing his eyes, but I’d have him gaze softly and pay attention to his breath. Smooth out his dramatic sniffing. Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause. I’d like to think the pauses would show him how to pause before he speaks.
After a brief warm-up, we’d move into vigorous (for him) sun salutations. I think he needs to be really worn out, wrung out, by a very physical yoga practice. I’d get him breathing and sweating, so much that he couldn’t think about anything else other than surviving another sun sal.
I’d suggest that he dedicate his practice to someone he loves. (Does he love anyone?) We’d pause in Warrior 1. And bow down to Humble Warrior. Peaceful Warrior. Devotional Warrior. Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause. Surely the combination of meditating on a loved one and bowing down to them would have an impact?
Next, a heart-opening sequence. Donald has an overactive third chakra (thus, his ridiculous overconfidence). He needs to develop his sense of compassion. Cobra, Sphinx, and Locust.
Then Headstand. Yes. He needs to spend some time upside down. Feeling the confusion of not knowing what’s really up and what’s really down. Seeing a different perspective. Getting connected with his crown chakra. A little spirituality Donald?
And Shoulder Stand. Placing the chin in Jalandhara Bandha, to work on balancing his throat chakra. Pause before you speak. Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause.
Savasana. I’m pretty sure he’d be exhausted by now and ready to collapse in a heap.
For the closing meditation, I’d encourage him to think of the person he loves and imagine the dissolving of barriers. Dissolve the barrier between the outer body and the inner body. Dissolve the barrier between the physical body and the soul. Dissolve the barrier between his soul and his loved one’s soul. Dissolve the barriers between all souls. There is no barrier, no separation.
Finally, OM. Filling the space with universal sound. Feeling the reverberation until it dissolves.
Imagine if Donald Trump did yoga.
Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause. We are all one.
OM. Shanti. Peace.
Image Credit: Humble Warrior by Mike Villegas