There is a village proverb in South India: “It doesn’t matter who pounds the rice; as long as I get the rice, it’s fine.” I think this also could be the motto for health and wellness providers. It doesn’t matter what approach you take, what “pathy” you use: allopathy, homeopathy, or naturopathy. It’s good to have all the “pathys” but the most important “pathy” is sympathy. Sympathy goes a long way in bringing health and happiness to someone who is unwell.

There is another saying: “Half by medicine, half by the doctor.” It’s not the medicine alone that cures. It is also your attitude, your approach, your sympathy, your concern, compassion, your love for the person. That’s where Yoga and meditation come in. The essential point behind Yoga is to be able to see your own self in other beings, not only in other persons but in all of creation. As you provide care for someone, you should feel you are taking care of yourself. As the Golden Rule says, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And you cannot do it unless you see your own self in the person. Then there is a beautiful rapport, a good communication. With that, all the rest happens naturally.

That is the essence behind Yoga: to see the oneness in the diversity, the oneness in spirit. To see that oneness there needs to be a clean mind and body. And, of course, there are many helpful practices to achieve this such as asana or the physical postures, pranayama or breathing techniques, and then pratyahara, a little discipline over the senses. And more or less the final practice is what you call meditation.

Meditation becomes much easier if a person follows the rest of the practices also. We should prepare our minds and our bodies for focusing on one thought, one elevating idea, which eventually leads to meditation. Even the modern medical field is well aware of the importance of thought. “As you think, so you become,” is a well-known saying. Our first and foremost duty is to give hope to the person who is trying to become well. Even if it is really a scary situation and death is imminent, give hope because miracles can happen—the whole situation may change. So, we can reassure the person and tell them “Don’t worry, don’t give up.” If a person gives up hope, even if you bring nectar, it won’t work.

Hope is the best medicine. So think well, think positively. That is what meditation means: to think deeply. Whatever you think, you will become. This reminds me of the greatest ethical work in South India, written by a saintly person named Thiruvalluvar. He taught that a person can get whatever they want, if only they think about it deeply enough, with total conviction. The mind has a tremendous power. If a person can have that kind of positive mind, there is nothing they cannot achieve in this world—not only health, but also happiness, wealth, and even social comfort. But to collect the mind and to think that deeply, we have to prepare the mind because it is very difficult to gather all of the mind on one point. The mind likes to run here and there. All the great sages and saints have unanimously agreed on this. They say that the mind is like a drunken money that has been bitten by a scorpion. It must be coaxed slowly, and that is the reason for all the different steps in the system of Yoga.

Yoga practice begins with ethics. It instructs us to just take care of our daily lives a little. For example, in the yamas and niyamas we find the instruction to not be too greedy running around here and there trying to get this and that all the time. Calm down a little. Use some devotion. Even if you don’t believe in God, you can use the idea of Nature or a Cosmic Intelligence in order to practice letting go of your burdens. It doesn’t matter if we label God a He, She, or It! Don’t we do that in algebra? Just bring in an unknown, an x. Suppose the answer is: x equals something. We don’t know what it is but as we work the problem, we solve the equation and say that x is equal to  such and such. Then what do we do with the x? We discard it because it is no longer needed. It’s an xtra! Maybe God is also like that. If you don’t feel comfortable with that idea then make God into an x for a little while and then when you get the answer, you can let go of the x. It’s all based on temporarily holding on to something, some excuse, to make the mind a little more calm and balanced.

Other terms that are very often used in Yoga are balance, equanimity, and tranquility. A definition of Yoga from the Bhagavad Gita is “Equanimity is Yoga.” Always keep the mind balanced and use any excuse to find that balance. Use your own capacity, your intelligence, or use somebody’s words or use God’s name. As I said earlier, it doesn’t matter who pounds the rice, just get the rice. The mind should be calm. That is the goal of Yoga and meditation. Once you calm the mind, then you achieve everything, but without a calm mind, you cannot achieve anything great.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda