I was talking to a friend I hadn't seen in a little while and she reminisced about how she had felt more focused when she had been practicing yoga. This paragraph from Light on Yoga provides insight:
"The word vrtti is derived from the Sanskrit root vrt meaning to turn, to revolve, to roll on. It thus means course of action, behavior, mode of being, condition or mental state. Yoga is the method by which the restless mind is calmed and the energy directed into constructive channels. As a mighty river which when properly harnessed by dams and canals, creates a vast reservoir of water, prevents famine and provides abundant power for industry; so also the mind, when controlled, provides a reservoir of peace and generates abundant energy for human uplift."
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, tenth paragraph of the Introduction.
This passage evokes the image of the mind in motion. These motions can have a positive effect if we can learn to harness the mind's power. It is like an energy generator... The generator can run by itself: just running to run. Or the generator can channel it's energy into powering something, like a house... Or maybe something grander like a peaceful society.
When seen in this way, living and allowing the mind to run, like obsessive rumination might be a terrible waste of fuel. But if we can learn to choose action, we might be able to do more than we thought we could. The practice of yoga becomes an imperative, and indispensable for someone who wants to focus in this way.
Staying in the mind without discipline is like being in a room that only has walls, and when we start to act on those good intentions doors start to show up.
Are we at the mercy of our minds? According to the teachings of yoga we are not. Through the practice of yoga B.K.S. Iyengar suggests that we can control this abundant resource and feel positive spiritual benefits from doing so.
I think that yoga has the potential to help us make the world a better place--we just have to do it.