ततो द्वन्द्वानभिघातः I
Consequently (tataḥ) we are undisturbed (anabhigātaḥ) by life’s dualities (dvandva).
PRACTICAL LIVING The practice of āsana, in a way that leads all levels of our being (physical, mental and emotional) to a state of alertness yet ease, leads us to cultivate qualities like wisdom, peace and courage. Here Patañjali goes further and says that when we’ve mastered the concept of living a life that has vigor yet detachment, then we are free from the effects of life’s ‘black or white’ pulls. In life there are pairs of opposites like hot and cold, pain and pleasure, hungry and full, arrogant and victim, etc. The mind likes identifying itself with these. It’s the all or nothing, black or white attitude.
As a consequence of tapping into our inner wisdom, of seeing more clearly, of deepening our understanding of the human life, we become less affected by life’s dualities. We no longer crave pleasure or avoid pain. The tendency to need to compare ourselves to others and either feel more than or less than others ceases to exist. The once strong reactions to the body’s sensations is less dramatic. For example, if you get hangry (yes, hungry + angry) when hunger hits you, the result of mastering the qualities of āsana would make you less reactive and less detached to the need to eat…anything…right now. Let’s say that what agitates you a lot now would bother you a lot less or not at all. Annoying people become less annoying. The heat bothers us less. Death is not as scary. Success or failure do not influence us as much as they used to.
IN THE YOGA WORLD In the Yoga world we have the concept of sattva (balance, luminosity), rajas (movement, agitation, fire) and tamas (inertia, static, rock-like). We tend to ping-pong from rajas (passion, excitement, anger, jealousy) to tamas (heart-break, boredom, resentment, loneliness). Through the discernment that a yogi cultivates, he/she begins to experience more and more sattva – a beautiful place of watching all of these emotions act up. The more detached we are to these emotions (instead of reacting to them), the less affected we are by them. A yogi perhaps feels more pain (because he/she avoids it less), yet he/she is not bothered or shaken up by it. It is a beautiful contradiction: you can feel more, yet not get impacted as much.
Robert Birnberg frequently talked about the “disease about the disease”. Someone can punch us in the face. Often what bothers us most is not our broken nose, but our reaction – the anger, the revenge, or the lack of self-esteem and confidence. The reaction to the broken nose is often much greater than the broken nose itself. A yogi sees a broken nose, it may hurt, but it’s just a broken nose. There’s no drama around it.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON A vibrant, open-minded, thirsty to experience life 18-year-old woman comes to mind: Nasi. I just spent 5 days getting to know her – where she comes from, her interests, her fears, her dreams and what excites her. She is so thirsty to learn about the rest of the world, other points of view and different cultures and ways of living. It is beautiful and fascinating to see her open her eyes to everything that seems ‘different’ to her with such open-mindedness. She just got her passport to leave the country for the first time and go to beloved India. Her senses will be bombarded with brand new flavors, smells, colors, rituals, religions, people and experiences that she cannot even imagine today. And she is so looking forward to it all. I love you Nasi! I am so thankful for our time together. It is beautiful to watch you grow and transform!
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 discuss the practice of conscious breathing!