Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Detaching from pain

Much is written relative to Yoga Sutras 1.12, on practice and detachment, and 1.15, on renunciation as detachment from desires.  Most writings deal with how to detach from pleasure. Perhaps this is because commentators view that as the harder thing to do. I don't agree and I wish more had been written about detaching from pain. I could use some help on that. Pleasure is fleeting, and most of us know that. Pain seems so much more enveloping and hard to escape. And maybe that is the problem, that we try to escape pain. This is far from trying to detach.

This topic came up while e-mailing about a yoga workshop on grieving that was to include a discussion on "embracing change". My correspondent felt this meant accepting change "happily or willingly". There is a place between being happy about change or hating it. Neither is detachment. I think that the trick, the pratipaksa, contrary thought, to hating change is not to embrace it, but to find equanimity within it. That seems like a good thing to aim for, given change happens, no matter our will.

I think back to some things Manouso Manos said during a workshop in March in Los Angeles about luck and free will and our lives' involving both. That to do yoga, we must "show up". This is our act of free will. In the midst of luck, good or bad, or change, good or bad, we can act from free will. This seems to me to say not that we are embracing change or pain or pleasure, but that we exercise the will to exist within ourselves in the midst of it. This is the path to santosa.

1 comment:

  1. Those sutras really struck a chord with me as well. I agree that pain is much harder to detach from, and the detachment/realization that pleasure is so fleeting often makes it that much harder to detach from pain (which seems to occur more often and linger).
    In the forward bend workshop that we had in the beginning of the year, you told us to detach from our goals as well as our past boundaries. In a sense, reminding us to be fully present. This allowed me to find not only a new space in my hamstrings, but a new space in my mindset that I did not realize before, and much of that had to do with our free will. While we may struggle to come to terms with the lack of control in our lives, our ability to act from free will and choose our mindset/outlook certainly gives us hope!