Choppy Waters

I spent some time with a friend I haven’t seen for a long time yesterday. After an acrimonious breakup of a long relationship, he still speaks disparagingly of his former partner. That makes me sad.
It made me think, what is there in yoga that can help us navigate the sometimes rough waters of relationship? I guess this is the importance of the Yama and Niyama where they act as compasses to steer ourselves. Ahimsa, the notion of non-harming, is the one, were we to fully embrace it, we would not in any way intend hurting another person.
Life is a bumpy road, though, and with all the best intentions, we do sometimes cause pain. Why? Probably because of the wounds we ourselves carry.
I’m not sure what it is about dedicating oneself long-term to yoga practice that helps people evolve into nicer humans. It may be practicing the moral code of yoga, it might be becoming more aware of one’s behaviour through self-observation in asanas, pranayama, meditation. It may just be putting oneself in a narrow tunnel of discipline for the long haul.
The thing that can make the most difference in personal growth, I think, is taking total responsibility for how one affects and is affected by others. It’s said that we cannot control the situations and events of our lives, but we can develop skills in how we react. The old master, Patanjali says that non reaction is the mastery of our tenancy to react, and the special effort involved in doing this is really just allowing, letting things be.
It doesn’t happen all at once, for sure. May yoga help us live long enough to develop these skills.
My wish for my friend is that he will discover that when he speaks badly of his ex he may be hurting her, but he is definitely hurting himself.