Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.33 says that the mind becomes clear and serene when the qualities of the heart are cultivated
These qualities are the same as those referred to in Buddhist teachings as the Brahma Viharas – divine abidings – which represent the most beautiful and hopeful aspects of our human nature. They are great healers of social tension and conflict, builders of harmony and cooperation.
Maitri/metta – loving-kindness, friendliness, active good will towards all – particularly towards people who are happier than us
Karuna – compassion for those who are suffering, identifying the suffering of others as one’s own
Mudita – appreciative joy for those who are doing good things, the feeling of joy because others are happy, even if one did not contribute to it,
Upekkha – equanimity in the face of people acting in harmful ways, even-mindedness and serenity, treating everyone impartially
We can develop them in our yoga practice through becoming aware of the sensations around the heart space, and encouraging a sense of openness and acceptance. In sitting practice we can see what arises when we consider these qualities, and perhaps choose to focus on whichever resonates with us at that particular time. Bringing the hands to rest at the heart centre can help us to connect with these qualities within us, and the mantra yam can enliven and awaken this part of ourselves.