Monday, April 23, 2012

Letting go

I am reading the Ramayana and last night I stopped. I could not help myself from identifying with the evil king Ravana. This thought much disturbed me as he is the most dangerous un-defeatable king of that time. You see, Ravana knew that if he was not able to let go of Sita, Rama's wife, his empire would come to an end, destruction and death would take over Lanka, but was so attached to his desire for Sita, he could not listen to the wisdom in himself, to the wisdom of his ministers advice, he could not let go of his attachment. 

This often happens in life, or I have definitely observed it happen in my life. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali talks about the Kleshas or mental states that cloud the mind and cause affliction. Kleshas are defined as 5 obstacles: ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and clinging to bodily life. These obstacles create states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression...We all have experienced at least one of these states, especially living in NYC. 
Today I am going to talk about one of them: attachment or RagaIt is defined as hankering after things within the three realms of existence; it produces frustration.
There is a tendency to attach to things or circumstances that we believe bring us happiness, by clinging on to these we create a possibility for pain. To practice letting go is to accept life as it comes, the place where you can experience the flow of life is the now, so to let go is to except the present moment unconditionally and committing to do our best to go with it. If we attach to things, situations, people, we create a blockage of energy. When energy is unable to flow we loose our full ability to see reality as it is, our bodies become rigid, tension rises in different places in the body...the body as a whole contracts.

For instance I love my job, but the moment I start thinking of it as a source of income I become attached to it, this attachment creates fear of loosing, which puts my mind in a state of anxiety. With anxiety I cannot give my best, because there is a energetic blockage, something stops flowing properly, there is a disconnect between my thought, my heart, and my actions. The moment I step back and decide to trust that if I fully give myself selflessly to my work, without thinking of what is given back to me, just pure-heartedly engage myself in the moment, then my heart opens, my vision widens and I feel full, I let go. Letting go, surrendering to what is, is not to passively let life happen, but it is an open positive approach to the "profound wisdom of yielding to, rather then opposing to, the flow of the now."
It is a switch of perception, we can see a specific situation as a glass half full or half empty. Viewing the glass as half empty closes our hearts, and makes us cling, attach to what we have because fear of loss takes over. Viewing the glass as half full, allows our heart to open, then we are able to let go. Only through the practice of letting go of fear, surrendering to it, can we remove pain, expand our vision, and see the truth. 
Holding on, not letting go, hardens our physical bodies and creates a sense of separateness. 

Yoga helps us soften rigidity, brings back flexibility, it is a practice that if taken seriously helps us soften.Yoga teaches us to let go, to surrender. Instead of becoming discouraged or worried, step by step we can take the opportunity to look within and see what lessons the obstacles can teach us.
Vairagya, or non attachment, is when the mind voluntarily changes its underlying motivations from selfish to selfless.

For more reading: "The Ramayana"  by Ramesh Menon

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