In Buddhism, there is an essential teaching about what is permanent and impermanent. When you learn that something is impermanent, it means that the nature of it is NOT TO EXIST forever. Then, you need to detach from it. As human beings, we are wired to cling on to what we like.
This includes people, materialistic possessions or thoughts, and we naturally get uncomfortable with what we don’t like. While this is basic to human nature, it is the root of most of our suffering. The more we are attached, the more grief we will experience.
Vairagya - A tool for enlightenment
In the practice of yoga, we are invited to witness & sit with this range of emotions & feelings without any attachment. We eventually learn to be a silent observer and witness these feelings without judgment.
This is the practice of Vairagya that Patanjali refers to in Yoga Sutra 1.12: Abhyasa-Vairagyabhyam tat nirodhah.
This literally means that identification with the instabilities of the mind is stopped by practising non-attachment.
Vairagya refers to the non-attachment aspect of the practice. It is a state of being free from materialistic life & attachments.
Vairagya is all about leaving your ego at the door and accepting that nothing is permanent.
Much like your experience on the mat, if you are able to effortlessly get into balancing poses today and the next day is almost the exact opposite, you find the same balancing poses immensely challenging; you may end up feeling frustrated.
This is an example of a circumstance where you can practice Vairagya or a sense of detachment of the exception or outcome.
The Benefits of Vairagya
Vairagya has many practical benefits and is most relevant in todays world, given our fast paced lives and need for instant gratification. It is a conscious step towards slowly yet steadily noticing our minds and letting go of all our worldly attachments to find inner peace. It is the process of letting go of all the clutter, unnecessary thoughts and mess our minds gather over time.
The very practice of Vairagya is a catalyst to living a life that is less stressful, a life that is not ridden by the fears of the past, present or future but enriched by the goodness of concentration, focus & gratitude.
When we are detached, we are able to pay wholesome attention to ourselves and our surroundings and can think clearly. All this adds up to gaining better control of the mind & the results are a calmer, fulfilled & happier self.
Vairagya, in today's times
As you already know, Vairagya has many practical benefits and is most relevant in today's world; given our fast-paced lives and need for instant gratification. It is a conscious step towards slowly yet steadily noticing our minds and letting go of worldly attachments to find inner peace.
It is the process of letting go of all the chaos, and excessive thoughts our minds gather over time. The very practice of Vairagya is a catalyst to living a less stressful life with no fears of the past, present or future but enriched by the goodness of concentration, focus & gratitude.
When we are detached, we are able to pay wholesome attention to ourselves, our surrounding and can think clearly. All this adds up to gaining better control of the mind & the results are a calmer, fulfilled & happier self.
Stages of Vairagya
It refers to the efforts to guide the mind away from sensual pleasures
It is a stage that makes you aware of your level of Vairagya towards certain objects.
It is a stage when the senses remain passive with the attachment or aversion of the mind to an object.
It is the final and highest stage of Vairagya. There exists no temptations and there are no likes or dislikes. This is the phase where self-realization and spiritual supremacy becomes possible because we soften & free ourselves from the bondage of worldly attachments.
Vairagya is a skill that develops with time & practice. A consistent practice of Vairagya reduces emotional reactivity and increases patience. By doing so we consciously allow ourselves to take a step back and notice the pattern of our feelings, thoughts and emotions.
Even when we are in the most difficult moments the habit of practising Vairagya will help us navigate through the stormy waters of life. Vairagya helps us realize how as living beings we are all interconnected & everyone is going through different challenges and have their own unique set of circumstances. It helps us exude empathy forgiveness both to ourselves and others.
Cultivating Vairagya in our daily life
The answer lies in making this a daily habit & changing our perception. By practicing the art of developing right thoughts, speech and actions in the smallest daily circumstances prepares us for the big, unexpected moments when life can hit hard.
Taking a step back to see the bigger picture & learning how to detach the mind and emotions in every opportunity life presents is the only way to dissolve our fears. Cultivating an attitude of non-attachment towards minor inconveniences of everyday life prepares us best for adversity.
A cultivated inner strength, a strong inner self and knowing your purpose & who you truly are will help you realize the value of detachment. You then realize you have nothing to lose. On the flip side, watching these feelings come and go allows you to rest calmly within your core & open fully to the here and now.
So the next time you get trapped in the web of judgment, try to pause, take a deep breath and tap into your pure, vast, limitless spiritual core that is not defined by your thoughts, feelings and attachments.
Use Vairagya as tool for inner strength and true happiness so that you don’t lose yourself to a world simmering with tension, noise and self-doubt.