Raga – the third kleisha (cause of mental torment) translates to attachment. As humans we get attached to things, particularly when they’re associated with past pleasurable experiences. Even when we know intellectually they aren’t helpful, we can continue to cling to behaviours or circumstances – whether it’s a relationship, a job, a way of doing something, a perfectionistic or other tendency, emotional eating, alcohol or other various habits that we form in our life and become unhealthily attached to.
Resisting a powerful habit or behaviour can be really difficult and uncomfortable. So we keep doing it because the discomfort that comes from sitting and not reacting can be too hard for us to manage.
What’s useful to know is that desire is okay – it’s when we’re attached to its fulfilment that it becomes problematic.
So, by way of a simple example, you may desire for chocolate but you can take it or leave it.. it doesn’t consume your thoughts and you can have one piece and feel fulfilled. It’s when you become attached to fulfilling the desire that it doesn’t satisfy you – you can have one piece but need more – either straight away or soon after.
It could be a desire to have everything perfect – but you’re not attached to fulfilling this desire – it would be nice but it doesn’t consume your thoughts and stick to you so is harmless… compared with an overwhelming need to have everything perfect and… becoming ‘attached’ to this desire.
This week is about noticing these attachments – aspects of your life that cause suffering because of their seeming power over you. Awareness is the first step towards not being so drawn in to these challenging and consuming behaviours or circumstances. In yoga class each week we practice self-awareness through asana, self-enquiry, pranayama, meditation and relaxation. Slowly we become more aware of these attachments in our lives and more able to sit with the feelings which arise from them, allowing us to free ourselves from the suffering they bring.
To a wonderful week ahead aware of your habits that are ‘attachments’, causing you suffering...