"I Want" Doesn't Get!
It turns out my my mum was a Yogi, who knew?! Some of you may recognise these wise words from your childhood and may even have used them speaking to your own children. Unfortunately, they were lost on 8 year old me, whose petulant answer would have probably been"Why not?", or words to that affect! Now I 'get it' thanks to Yoga....
Though I'm pretty certain my mum never read it, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali points to the Kleshas as being the reason for unnecessary unhappiness and suffering in our lives. The 2nd Klesha, Asmita or Ego (the1st, Avidya, I discussed in the last Blog ) and the 3rd Raga or Attachment to What We Desire, are both seen in the phrase "I want".
We tackled the idea of Ego first on Tuesday in a Chair Yoga Practice - yep, that may be what their first thought was too....'old people do that!' Luckily, our enthusiastic MBY Yogis are very open minded, so they sat down and gave it a whirl! We practiced; Goddess ( Yoga Squats), Eye of the Needle and Janu Sirasana (both modified version of that strong hip opener, Pigeon), Eagle (shown below here in the photo), Big Toe Pose and of course moved up and down into Chair. All these poses can quieten any Ego in the room, even seated! In Yoga it's what we experience that counts, not preconceived ideas and judgements made by Ego that cloud our vision. We clear our lenses and bring the focus back from the "I" to YOU through the poses and our Breath and being completely in the present.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in being the 'I', who we 'think' we are, that we lose sight of the You, who we 'know' we are. It's a bit like someone acting in a play every day, playing matinee and evening shows for months and finding eventually that their sense of who they are gets confused with the part they are playing. They begin to identify with who they are portraying. Moreover, the fact that this becomes who their audience perceives them to be adds to the confusion of Self identity. In life if we get so engrossed in how we want to be seen and what we want to be identified with (think of some Social Media representations as an obvious example of this) we can lose all sense of reality. Practicing Yoga allows the practitioner space to realise that there is no need to perform and no one looking on as an audience. No opinions need be listened to and no judgements made. It gives a chance in a safe space to peel away the extra layers built as camouflage to draw inwards and notice and identify with the YOU you are.
Whether you're a Yogi or not, try this Eagle pose sitting in a Chair. Close your eyes and slow your breathing, making both your inhale and exhale steady and smooth. Continue to control the rhythm of your breath for 10 rounds or so at a slow count of 4 in and out. Then, letting go of the Breath, eyes still closed, stay there for as long as you feel comfortable, watching for the "I" in any thoughts and listening for the YOU! Repeat Eagle on the other side.
This also works for Raga as you learn to release holding onto what is not useful in this pose to find what makes it work for you - read on!
Next on Wednesday evening we looked at Raga, the Attachment to Desires. Everyone can relate to the unhappiness that this can bring. Mr.Patanjali was not saying we humans should not have preferences and things we wish for - these make life worthwhile, giving us goals, challenges and reasons to smile! The problem for all of us is when we attach ourselves to them, making unreasonable demands (like the 8 year old me!), believing they are our right and then being incredibly frustrated, sad or angry when the world does not give it to us. Even worse, if we do receive what we longed for it can be that we find it's not the source of all happiness, which again brings the opposite emotion. We turn to looking for something else/more and it can become an addictive engagement in a constant cycle that always results in our suffering. Then again, we can get such a buzz from receiving something desired that we want to experience this again, only to find that it is not the same next time around and so we suffer, constantly chasing something unattainable. This applies to personal relationships and positions in life, not just material and financial 'wants'.
In class we used Twists to associate with finding what made us happy, reducing our 'suffering' by letting go of 'holding on'. Everything relaxed and fell into place! If only life were so easy, but the only way to leave this habitual pattern of behaviour described as Raga is by breaking that cycle and the only person that can do this is You. Begin by letting go, however slowly, of holding on to what is causing your unhappiness, however much you have come to think you want it. Try to become more aware of what you have got in your life that does makes you happy. The solution really is that simple, though the pathway may be seem daunting. Start with little steps, just by looking around you every day and finding something to be grateful for that makes you smile....
I don't remember what I wanted each time my mum said that phrase to me and actually I know she was just asking me to be polite and say 'please', but I'm sure I didn't get it until I let go of that word 'want'! And I'm even more certain it wasn't necessary for my happiness whatever it was!
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