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YS 1.12 Abhyasa and Vairagya

I want to share with you some thoughts about how yoga leads us to personal freedom and liberation.

The Yoga Institute of Broward has a great intro into how two concepts of yoga, abhyasa and vairagya, work together to help us achieve liberation:

YS 1.12 Abhyasa constant practice and Vairagya detachment are offered by Patanjali as the means to quiet the mind and restrain the vrittis.  Where abhyasa provides a positive means to build up a practice, vairagya is considered to be the negative that balances the positive. Practice is the steadfast effort to still the fluctuations and detachment is thoughtful control of desires that may interfere with the progression of practice. They balance one another just as the sun and moon, the inhalation and exhalation, and night and day.

When we practice with consistency and devotion, as Patanjali says is a necessity, we’re able to learn how to control what Patanjali calls the “fluctuations” of our minds. In other words, our yoga practice helps us learn about why we are the way we are. Our practice can help free us from many things: our selves, others, the confines of this world. When we practice yoga, we learn what it is to truly be an individual.

For Pondering Excerpt from Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh

The nine months you spent in the womb were some of the most pleasant times of your life. Then the day of your birth arrived. Everything felt different around you, and you were thrust into a new environment. You felt cold and hunger for the first time. Sounds were too loud; the lights were too bright. For the first time, you were afraid. This is original fear.

Inside the palace of the child (the womb), you didn’t need to use your own lungs. But at the moment of your birth, someone cut the umbilical cord and you were no longer physically joined with your mother. Your mother could no longer breathe for you. You had to learn how to breathe on your own for the first time. If you couldn’t breathe on your own, you would die. Birth was an extremely precarious time. You were pushed out of the palace, and you encountered suffering. You tried to inhale, but it was difficult. There was some liquid in your lungs and to breathe in, you had to first push out that liquid. We were born, and with that birth, our fear was born long with the desire to survive. This is original desire.

When we grow up, our original fear and original desire are still there. Although we are no longer babies, we still fear that we cannot survive, that no one will take care of us. Every desire we will have in our lives has its root in the original, fundamental desire to survive. We may have felt very powerless. We had legs but couldn’t walk. We had hands but couldn’t grasp anything. We had to figure out how to get someone else to protect us, take care of us, and ensure our survival.

As adults, we’re often afraid to remember or be in touch with that original fear and desire because the helpless child in us is still alive. We haven’t had a chance to talk to him or her. We haven’t taken the time to care for the wounded child, the helpless child within.

We have to look deeply to identify the original, primal fear and desire that are behind so many of our behaviors. Every one of the fears and desires that you have today is a continuation of original fear and desire.

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