1.15 “The consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving from objects seen or heard about is non-attachment.” – Yoga Sutra of Patanjali
I have always grown up as an observer of life but the more passive side of an observer. Listening and seeing; letting life just pass by me rather than pass through me. Looking back now, I can pin point back to the moments that lead me to a life filled with attachments. In my teens, the pressure of trying to fit in or needing to belong somewhere took a great hold of my being. This instilled a habit of people pleasing, unknowingly knowing that pleasing the world would cause destruction within. I had this urge to make sure the ones I cared deeply for were taken care of by avoiding expressing my true self in fear that I may irritate or discomfort them. By having this mindset, I was easily attracted to anything and everything that gave me false or temporary purpose. I was swayed from one side to another, thinking I was just “going with the flow” but truthfully, I was “going with the desire”.
This sutra speaks of Self-Mastery and Self-Mastery begins with a conscious mind which I naively thought I’ve been living and doing. It was only until the “perfect” life I’ve planned and played over and over in my head was taken away from me, leaving me confused and uncertain of my future. It was at that point in my life I woke up to the reality and truth of life. And, like many others it was the emptiness and longing for what’s beyond this earth that began my journey to healing.
When you think of healing, you think of relaxation and bliss but it wasn’t like that for me, at least not in the beginning. In the process of rewriting my life, depression became a longtime companion of mine and at some point was the only thing in my life that comforted me. It was a vicious cycle I was and still trying to overcome and navigate through. I knew I needed to detach myself from it. But how could you when it was the only thing in your life that felt certain. I have become attached to the feeling of depression and the fear of the unknown that I was willing to suffer silently with anxiety than to be strong and choose faith. I knew this was a huge hurdle and an uphill battle that I needed to fight and what better way to fight a battle than to fight with love. Love began showing a different colour in my world. Love lead me to new creative outlets which were meditation and journaling.
One important lesson I’ve learned from meditation and journaling is the non-attachment to thoughts. I’ve realized that the thoughts in my mind are just that, thoughts, and they carry tremendous power. It is said many times that your words can either lift you or weigh you down and it’s with you every second of each moment so it’s best to take care of them and use its power to affirm you, not destroy you. Through journaling, I was able to come face to face with my thoughts and words, and as I stared at them in black and white, handwritten in my own writing they began looking dull and repetitive. It came to a point where I didn’t want to hear what I had to say anymore because it’s already been said countless of times before. There was no way out of it but to accept my thoughts as they are and practice the art of letting go and doing better. Moving forward, I chose to be conscious of my thoughts. My thoughts lead to ideas and ideas lead to purpose. I wanted to help others who have walked a similar path as I have and build a community of hope, love and faith.
My efforts lead me to the ever infinite world of yoga and I truly believe that to lead others I must first master how to lead myself. Through breathing I have found a spark of peace and detachment to the false truths my mind clings onto. Through breathing I have found the beauty in the practice of gratitude and mindfulness. Through breathing I have found a sense of freedom and groundedness. And, through breathing I have found forgiveness in my past and acceptance in the present now.
There are just so many benefits my mind and body received and continues to receive on and off the mat that it left a growing impression inside to bravely step forward into the path of sharing it with others. I hope to use my personal journey and experiences not as a limitation but as opportunities to expand even further mentally, physically and spiritually and spread good to all. I hope to use the skills and knowledge I gain through this new chapter of my life to volunteer in a rehabilitation center and assist those suffering from depression and anxiety through the power of yoga. Pursuing this dream is very important to me because of having to personally experience the darkness depression and anxiety brings and an issue that touches the very core of my being.
Taking a step back and looking deeper into this sutra, if we compare it to,
“When the mind loses desire even for objects seen or described in a tradition or in scriptures, it acquires a state of utter (vashikara) desirelessness that is called non-attachment (vairagya)” (1)
I find that this translation refers to how society can conform many people to believe in whatever the general masses believes in. It teaches a lesson to not follow but instead find the discipline and strength within yourself to lead a life that was meant for your individual purpose. Desire is very much highlighted in this translation and it can be linked to our needs and wants from this world. Our desire may be a selfish act whereas letting it go will bring us back to realizing our true purpose thus guiding us to a life of non-attachment.
Similarly, the following translation:
“As for non-reaction, one can recognize that it has been fully achieved when no attachment arises in regard to anything at all, whether perceived directly or learned.” (2)
speaks of the congruency of non-reaction to desirelessness stated in the previous sutra translation. It shows that non-reaction is the absence of personal wants and needs as a result achieves non-attachment.
All in all, what I took away from studying this sutra is mastering of the self. Referencing back to Patanjali’s translation, I can’t help but notice that he chose to use the word “self-mastery” whereas the other two translations do not. Patanjali describes his translation as a journey to your purpose rather than a process of elimination of habits or actions; desire, attachment, reaction. By allowing purpose into a sutra, there’s more inspiration than motivation, which I truly believe has more power, within a person that is encouraged to push through. It shows that he seeks growth, knowledge of self and sheds light onto truth. Nonetheless, these translations leave different flavours on our palettes but ultimately leave the same satiable feel and understanding. Self-mastery is a constant reminder of our capacity to be humble beings, persevere through even the darkest of days and forgive all, and with consistent practice of yoga, we are all on our way.