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!
Wow are there lessons to be learned from the Sutras. This is so true.. it is the reactions that usually last longer than the event. Whether they be good or bad, they are lasting impressions. Those reactions say so much about oneself. They can affect our relationships for a good time to come; perhaps forever. Being conscious of those reactions is a work in progress…
Does a natural wisdom shift come with age too for some dualities or is it only a consistent asana practice that leads to mastering life? I can see a faint change in a duality or two since starting on this path and very much looking forward to continuing the journey of mastering life!
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It has been through my daily yoga practice that I have been able to truly hear my inner voice and be totally aware of my behaviors and reactions. It is almost as though my inner voice cries out to my heart, not loudly but continually until I acknowledge it, listen and let go of whatever my crazy mind has attached to! This isn’t always easy and I have to admit sometimes it takes a while to release my mind from it’s prison, but as I gradually let go, amazing courage is able to break through my doubts,fears and attachments.
I love the idea of visualizing myself as a hawk in flight, my tail fanned wide and my wings so broad, gliding effortlessly with the wind, soaring higher, yet with such ease, never having to flap my wings…..haaaaa…… finding balance. This is a meditation I will try and add to my yoga practice.
This is my real reply to this Sutra, the above reply was actually for Sutra II-47.
Anyway this Sutra speaks loudly to me and answers so many questions I have been struggling with over the past month. Why do I feel more pain, yet it doesn’t stay with me long? Why am I so much more aware of my feelings to what people say or do because for the first time I am really listening to my own voice? Why do I so deeply want to understand my reactions and how I can begin to let go of my expectations? Why do I feel upset and so sad when others around me have such a “black and white” mentality? Why am I able to feel empathy and compassion for others yet not have to be their savior? How can I find the balance between not over reacting yet still feeling?
The list goes on and so does this amazing journey………
Letting go is a key to so many things. I’ve learned that letting go of the results neutralizes the drama or the reaction that we have to something. The benefit of this for me has been a peace and a clarity that I didn’t have before because I was surrounded by a tornado of anxiety. The irony of the situation, is that my emotional drama caused all of the pain in my life. HA! We really are our own worst enemy at times!
When I was around 8 years old, one of my Mom’s friends worked for a talent recruiting agency. She told my Mom that they were in need of some children for a car commercial. When my siblings and I found out that a Rep. would be visiting our home to scout for talent, we began to plan our famous, rich and fabulous future. I would marry Shawn Cassidy, Brooke Shields would be my best friend (this was the 70’s!). I was positive that my talent would lead me into a singing and acting career. Oh, the plans that I had! The three of us squealed when the door bell rang. The Scout came in and had us line up as she sized us up with very concentrated and focused attention.
My brother Mark was a year older than me and my sister Laurie was a year younger than me (Do you feel sorry for my middle-child self yet? lol). My sister was taller than me and it bothered me so much that people thought she was older because of the height difference. My mind went right to this conflict (a conflict that I created of course). I decided that I would stand on my tip-toes and stand slightly behind my sister so everyone knew that I was taller and therefore older. Makes perfect sense right? Well, to my dismay, the talent scout chose my brother and my sister because she liked the contrast in height. See how I cause my own pain?! I was not a happy camper.
At the time I would have told you my dreams were crushed because I did not get to participate in that commercial. I told my parents I was running away from home. I cried for close to 2 weeks. I was so dramatically pathetic…and I created all of my pain…all by myself (I didn’t need any help). Now that I am older and have matured a little (yes, a little…) I realize that I wasn’t upset with not getting the commercial. I had a “disease about the disease.” It was my behavior that bothered me most. If I would have accepted who I was in life physically, I would have gotten the role. I sabotaged my own success and limited my life experience because I was pretending to be someone else and that became a painful lesson to learn.