Tbh I was going to stop writing about Pada 1 of the Yoga Sutras a few months ago - but the divine timing and richness of these teachings refuses to let me move on - yet.
But first, a moment of deeper truth: I have quite a few unhealthy attachments.
To people, to titles, to goals, and to outcomes….the list could go on.
Let’s just say I can be pretty attached.
Recent circumstance has painfully (and gainfully) revealed the ways in which I’ve been attached to outcome and more importantly the ways I’ve tried to control (and manipulate) people/places/things to make it happen.
Redirecting to wisdom that’s not mine, Yoga Sutra 1.12
Typically this has been translated as:
“That can be controlled through practice and non-attachment.”
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
And is the continuation of a previously explored story.
And now begins our extensive discussion of Yoga (1.1)
But first, a definition: Yoga is both the calming of our mind-stuff and the uniting of our consciousness in our hearts (1.2)
When we commit to the practices of Yoga, we are able to see ourselves in our truest state: JOY! (1.3)
AND sometimes - we let our mind-stuff run wild, our hearts get distracted and dispersed, and we feel anything BUT joyous. (1.4)
Patanjali then describes the different ways that our minds may waver…for the next 7 sutras…
It can feel a bit gloomy until we arrive at 1.12 - and we are offered a way through.
Abhyasa and Vairagya
As mentioned above - Abhyasa is generally translated as practice and Vairagya as non-attachment.
So we don’t have to wonder, Sutra 1.13 defines practice as:
Effort to stay there (Pandit Rajmani Tigunait)
Or the steady effort to restrain mental activities from afflictions. (Vyasa)
And how to practice is answered in 1.14:
Perfection in practice comes when one continues to practice with sincerity and respect for a long period of time without any interruption (Pandit Rajmani Tigunait)
So now that we have practice out of the way, back to attachment or maybe this mythical nonattachment.
First, I’m not here to discuss the headier topic of attachment, attachment theory, or anything like that. I have a Psychology degree - there’s plentyyyyy of others who have dedicated research hours to these topics. And it’s an on-going topic of consideration.
Obviously, as interconnected humans - we have attachments. Attachments are necessary for proper development into trusting adults. And attachments can cause unnecessary suffering when/if we become super attached to them. ;)
I’ve always struggled with that word as a concept; and also equanimity - but that’s another topic.
Maybe it’s all the Psychology assignments or maybe it just needs a reframe.
If you’ve been reading along with my other blogs on this topic, you probably already know where this is going…
A slightly different translation by Nischala Joy Devī:
“Consciousness is elevated by Abhaysa (Devoted Practice) and
Vairagya (Remembering the Self).”
Ok - so I’m definitely more interested in a devoted practice versus a perfect one.
And, hold up! Remembering the self…nonattachment be gone!
The thing is - when I attach myself to all the things, I lose myself.
When I try to control the magic of the Universe to fit into my limited views, I lose myself.
When I get caught up in the fruits, I lose myself.
When I hold on too tight for people/places/things that are no longer meant for me, I lose myself.
I have this visualization that I do whenever I notice that I’m grasping (I’ve also used it as a forcefield in situations I need to protect myself, or as a sickness banisher). I imagine a tornado (or maybe a galaxy) in my belly - spinning around and removing everything in its path - freeing me from whatever I feel entangled by.
This tool helps me go from:
scattered → collected
spread out → gathered
spacey → grounded
For me - remembering myself takes less mental gymnastics than this broad idea of nonattachment.
Remembering myself takes vigilance - with so many distractions and patterns.
Remembering myself feels like coming home.
Back to the Sutras and Vairagyam:
1.15 dṛṣṭānuśravikaviṣayavitṛṣṇasya vaśīkārasaṃjñā vairāgyam
“Non-attachment belongs to the one who is free from the craving for
sense objects and objects mentioned in the scriptures.”
~ Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
“With constant Remembrance of the Self, Vairagya, all yearnings fade.”
~ Nischala Joy Devi’
Call it what you want to call it - I’ll take that loss of yearning and freedom from cravings.
And just in case you were thirsty for Nischala Joy Devi’s translations of 1.13 and 1.14:
Devoted practice cultivates the unfolding of consciousness and is nurtured by a sustained steady rhythm and a dedicated heart. #lesigh