वीतरागविषयं वा चित्तम्॥३७॥
vitaraga-visayam va cittam
Or (va) we can contemplate on people, objects or situations that help us cultivate letting go (vitaraga).
PRACTICAL LIVING The last sutra (see Sutra I.36) offered us the option of meditating on our inner light. That, however, is an abstract concept that some people find difficult to connect with. So in this sutra Patanjali offers another solution to experiencing more peace: focusing on someone or something that radiates peace and is free from drama. Drama, according to my teacher Robert Birnberg (see Sutra I.6) is the hardest addiction to overcome. “raga” in this sutra refers to this attachment we have to people, objects, ideas and beliefs that eventually leads to suffering. This sutra tells us that detachment can be practiced by observing and reflecting on one of the following:
1. Someone who inspires us to change – a role model. Simply said, we can spend time with people who have detached from something or someone we ourselves are working towards. For example, if one is struggling to quit smoking, then following the steps and wisdom of a trusted person who has successfully quite smoking can be very beneficial. A new mother, for example, needs the ability to detach from work, her hobbies and to a large extent other people in order to give this new being their full attention and love.
2. Study texts that help us reflect on the concept of detachment. This concept can be understood in many different levels and is a recurring subject in the Yoga Sutra-s and many other ancient texts. We may find mantras or significant phrases that “speak” to us that remind us of this letting go that we are practicing.
3. Go to a physical place that can help us connect with this detachment. Some people choose to go on pilgrimages with minimal material goods to experience detachment. Others practice chastity. Having said that, very early in the Yoga Sutra-s we are told that consistency is a key ingredient to finding inner peace. So one way to practice daily is by taking some time every day to do our sadhana (a daily meditative practice that ideally has been given to us by a teacher/mentor that we trust).
IN THE YOGA WORLD Traditionally, a serious yoga student would look for a yoga teacher that he/she thought had attained a great level of detachment. In India, it is said that there have been many very wise people who have reached levels of clarity that are beyond the average person’s. The idea of detachment requires a mind that is stable, confident and clear. One who sees clearly does not need to cling to ideas, belief systems or other people – there is an understanding of trust: trust in oneself, trust in life. One who is able to detach and let go is one who understands what their fears are and can find a deep sense of sraddha (faith – see Sutra I.20). Detachment, in other words, requires surrendering to the flow of life.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON A new being has flooded my life with extraordinary beauty these past 2 weeks. Gaia is this little body illuminated by a divine light. We spend days and nights together and she has become my object of meditation. Her needs are ones of survival. Apart from food, being clean and sleep she is not attached to anything else. Well, not yet, or not that I know of. She teaches me to surrender on a daily basis. She teaches me to slow down and be here, now with her. She teaches me to trust myself to provide for her and trust her to let me know how I can make her life better. She teaches me that all we need is love (apart from the needs mentioned above). Gai-ta, thank you for teaching me so much, for growing with me, for showing me a side of life I had never known before! Te amo minha gorduchita linda!
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and next week we will look at the importance of sleep and dreams as an object of meditation.