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Patanjali Yoga Sutra

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Yoga Sutra III-19

Pratyayasya paracittajnanam - Through observing one's own mind, one develops the ability to observe another's mind.

As we move into the third chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali begins to describe some of the special powers (siddhis) that one may acquire through the committed and long term practice of yoga. It is important to note that these special powers arise, and can not be conjured. In fact, we are instructed to just do the practice and let go of the fruits of the practice.

Here, Patanjali is suggesting that it's possible to read another's mind, but first we have to clean up our own minds. Many of our interactions with others are based on our own projections and biases. Before we can truly know what someone else is thinking, we have to understand our own conditioning and how it influences everything we see. By understanding ourselves, we can see others more clearly

Another aspect of this sutra is that when we work with the practices of yoga, our minds become calmer. A calm mind acts as a clear surface to reflect what the other is communicating, through both verbal and non-verbal means. When the mind is agitated, it can't see beyond its own disturbed surface.

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