Practice and Detachment
Abhasya and Vairagya. Patanjali yoga sutra 1.12. In our Wednesday meditation class we have been continuing to explore Patanjali and have reached this very interesting and often misunderstood sutra. Abhasya is practice. In the sutras mostly he is referring to meditation and self study but we can explore more broadly. Practice may be anything we engage in that brings us closer to Self realisation of our inner essence. Detachment is a concept that is often misunderstood and abused. You may think it implies renouncing things like possessions or money and many people complicate their relationships by thinking they can't be attached to people. But this isn't the dance that Patanjali is instructing.
Abhasya and Vairagya. Patanjali yoga sutra 1.12.
These two come together in the same sutra and I believe support each other. The often used metaphor of a bird needing 2 wings to fly might be applied here. Abhasya and Vairagya - Practice and detachment.
Abhasya brings about a seeing of things as they are. Some people come to yoga or meditation when they are suffering in some way or have found external life unfulfilling. Maybe they have suffered some loss in health, wealth or relationship and thus have seen how fragile the sense of self is.. through seeing it's reliance on external factors. I remember my early encounter with Patanjali in recovering from a relationship break up.
And so practice may be asana (what makes up the bulk of our class time), or it may be meditation - where we invite our reflection within to look at our mind and see what's what. Sometimes practice might be walking in nature, pray in a sacred space, listening to music or some other activity that brings us home to our Self. The important underlying factor is the intention. We may language our process and outcome differently, perhaps using religious or philosophical terminology but what gives it consistency with the yoga of Patanjali is if there is intention to come back into yourSelf (Self with a big 'S'). This is to rest in a stillness beyond the thinking mind and an openess to experience that knowing - that is Yoga. For a moment you might like to reflect on what you do to find peace and what is your understanding of that place is.. or maybe just let it BE.
So generally you will find that when you come into that centred place beyond the mind, you feel more clear - bothersome thoughts drop away and life feels simpler. You come to the understanding "Don't sweat the small stuff... it's all small stuff!
The seeing that comes from this perspective helps you to connect with what is important and to effortlessly let go (detach) from what is not important. Recall the ease with which you let go of your stuffed toys, barbie dolls or toy cars... Slowly you just lost interest. There was no discipline or trauma (unless parents took them away 'too' early). You just moved on to other interests. And this is the meaning of Vairagya. As we see more, supported by our practice we lose interest in things that are inherently unsatisfying. We don't have to give anything if it's serving us, but we see clearly what is not serving us. We can even pick up these toys and enjoy playing with them for a while (as long as no one gets hurt), but we realise that these things are not needed in order to feel complete.
As adults we have many toys that we might think make us happy.. fancy homes and cars, jewels, fine food and wine, expectations of partners or children to do everything we want (ha! maybe this is the suffering that brings us to practice). Vairagya doesn't mean giving up any of these things, but though our practice we see with clarity the role of these things in our life. Some we don't need and let go of (some of the sugar and spice and all things nice that lead to ill health); some we don't need but we might occassionally enjoy (if they are doing no harm); some, we will see with greater clarityare important to our growth, but do not necessarily make us happy all the time (relationships). Perhaps the latter are an important reminder that things don't make us happy; although ironically when detachment is the outcome of practice we can enjoy relationships even more.
Detachment doesn't mean not enjoying, it is just the outcome of seeing that enjoying and things are not needed for us to feel complete. So I hope this gives you greater clarity in your inner world.
iRest Yoga Nidra Tues 23rd Apr 1150 - 1250 - 5 more weeks of this lovely lead meditation in lying & Meditation and Patanjali study Wed 24th Apr 1110 - 1210. Both are payment by donation.
If you want to explore these concepts more deeply, there are also a couple spots left on our May long weekend retreat.