Inspired and based on Patanjalis’ Yogasutra by Ralph Skuban
I chose this topic as part of my yoga teacher presentation. Whilst dealing with the Yogasutra in more detail, I realised just how much of a code of practice this book is for life. At least for me. This article is inspired by the book and expresses my thoughts and feelings around the very important topic of “Revealing our true self.”
The word ‘vairagya’/letting go is one of the most important words and statements in Patanjalis’ Yogasutra. Whilst it appears more than once, I focus on chapter 1, verses 12-16.
However, my starting point lies in chapter 2, verses 3-4, where it’s said that we humans suffer, because we don’t know, who or what we really are. Also referred to as ‘spiritual blindness’ or ‘avidya’.
If we are now conscious and mindful enough, we will probably seek getting out of this suffering and spiritual blindness with the objective to reach inner freedom. For me, this means being, who we really are.
Start walking as to reveal your true self.
In the Yogasutra, this is a higher level of ‘vairagya’, it is ‘paravairagya’, a complete detachment of everything.
Where to start
I would recommend to start at the beginning, just like Patanjalis does in chapter 1, verses 1-11. He states to dedicate yourself to yoga, to self-realisation. Yoga is basically a way to heal, it means healing to the grounds of our being, through a process of cleansing.
One way to cleanse is by calming down and quieting our thoughts and mental patterns, which are continuously changing and evolving, making it even more difficult to quiet them. The stillness of our thoughts is referred to as ‘chitta vrittis nirodhah’. And once they become still, we will be at rest, feel peaceful and find inner peace.
How to find inner peace
In chapter 1, verses 12-16, there are some insights on how we can quiet our mind, and the most important finding for me is that we need to understand that we are NOT our thoughts, that we are NOT our emotions and that we are NOT our memories. We mustn’t identify with our thoughts, if we want to quiet our mind and reveal our true self.
Also, it’s beneficial to establish a ‘practice/abyhasa’ like a regular meditation and yoga practice, and most importantly we need to cultivate an inner attitude of letting go.
By practicing ‘abyhasa’ and ‘vairagya’, we will be led into stillness and hence closer and closer to our true self. With the help of letting go (‘vairagya’), we can find our inner light, our true essence again and we will start shining our (moon) light again, that has been hidden and covered with dust for a long enough time. We can begin to walk the way to our true self.
I love the image of a diamond here. We all are a diamond, but over time, our diamond, our true self, may begin to dust based on wrong identifications or at least identifications that we didn’t really question and hence accepted. The good news is we can start blowing off the dust, today, right here, right now. We are free to dissolve beliefs and limitations, that don’t serve as any longer, and we can create and absorb beliefs that serve us well. By dissolving our old beliefs, we approach our true essence of being, slowly, but surely.
We understand that our happiness does not depend on external factors, but only on what’s within us. We will break out of the prison that we built ourselves, we will break up accepted dogmas, we will free ourselves from living the life that others want us to live and will develop back into our true essence.
Yes, this is somehow rebellion, we rebel to get our lives back and to live the life we really desire to live. However, that’s good rebellion, if you ask me.
To summarise, Patanjalis’ biggest calling is to practice
• Accept what you cannot change.
• Forgive as if it never happened.
• Do not judge.
• Let go of what is hurting you.
Imagine a full glass of water. Only by letting go and emptying your water glass, you can create space for new, beautiful things that leave you feeling lighter, freer and happier.
For me, the most beautiful effect of ‘vairagya’ is that I will be able to love and serve even more, as I develop more empathy for others, more strength to support and enthuse others and help them design their lives the way THEY love it.
A matter close to my heart
This is a topic close to my heart due to my personal experience. Through yoga, meditation, coaching and my travels through Latin America, I became more mindful and conscious about me and my life; hence I started to reflect and question the existing.
Knots were bursting and I started going my way to reveal my true self. I began blowing off the dust of my diamond and gradually saw parts of my true self appear again, I found my inner light that I had somehow forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind.
I don’t think we ever finish the process of de-dusting our diamond, but knowing that we have the chance to do so and break out of our chains and limitations, is already a great reason to be happy and to keep walking the path towards freedom.
Would I walk it again? Yes, over and over.