A student of mine posed this question to me the other day, “You talked last week about non-attachment. I understand that I shouldn’t be attached to material possessions, but I’m struggling to understand if that extends to my family and loved ones as well. Should I not be attached to my husband and my family?”.
This question is one that every yogi must ask themselves at one point or another. We can all read the ancient yoga texts and study Indian philosophy at will, but true growth comes from sitting and meditating on these words. The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali describe Vairagya as the cease of desire altogether. In non-attachment, there is no craving for seeing and hearing, holding and discriminating, remembering or pining. To completely give one’s self to non-attachment is a terrifying thing – something yogis may explain as a fear of losing themselves. However, I choose to think of Vairagya as the realization that each being carries its own internal energy. Non-attachment, thus, is the ability to need and desire nothing outside of one’s self.
Take two rocks for example. These rocks are hard, steady, and solid on their own…each with their own unique makeup of color, texture, and weight. These two rocks live in harmony with the world on their very own, never decaying, crumbling, or wanting. Now place those two rocks next to each other to touch. Notice how the mass of “stone” becomes greater and more expansive, yet this mass is but two individual rocks. This time, take the rocks in your hands and crash them together with force, creating a resonating sound vibration, creating heat and energy, even creating a soulful feeling of two energies colliding. All this energy and vibrancy was created and yet they remain two rocks. They will never morph into one no matter how much you bang them together.
In our day to day lives, most of us resemble the two rocks touching. As we chat with friends, grab drinks with a gal pal, or work alongside a colleague, we allow the other person to expand our mass, to make us greater in influence. Yet we simply coexist as two beings touching each other on an outer level. We do not need the extra person to sustain us, as we are a solid and self-sustaining being.
Sometimes in life we then find those individuals that crash into us, creating heat and vibrancy, and for a brief moment our energies collide. But even here, with that immense resonance created, we are but two being. We have not morphed into one person, sharing each other’s self-sustenance. Each being still maintains its own Purusha (inner-self) which cannot be combined with another.
The goal of Vairagya is to enjoy each and every moment with your fellow “rocks”. But you must always remember that you are your own energy; everything and everyone around you is just another rock of energy that you interact with. When you realize that other energies can enhance your own without modifying your energy, you are practicing non-attachment. You need not movement, nor sound, nor other humans, nor a professional goal to make you whole. The only thing you need is to sit quietly with yourself, look deeply into your own energy, and smile at the wonder which is the Self.