The concept of non-attachment is one of great importance in the study of yoga. Discussion of non-attachment, or vairagya (वैराग्य), appears in the YogaSutras 1.15-1.16. These verses talk about non-attachment as a type of consciousness in which we are not craving objects or being controlled by our senses. Non-attachment is not necessarily an action, but rather a state of being. We no longer use our likes and dislikes as the determining factor for our decisions.
When we are driven by our cravings, we exists in two states: giving in or resisting. These are very similar states of mind from a yogic perspective. In both cases we are using our thoughts to debate what action to take based on what we do or do not want to do. Maybe you can think of a time you really wanted something but resisted, or really didn't want to do something you had to do. Regardless of the action you chose, the inner debate is what is interesting from a yogic perspective.
While non-attachment isn't technically renouncing our desires, that is the best way to begin the practice. When we notice a craving or desire, we first have to consciously abstain and break the pattern in our mind that creates the desire in the first place. Over time, it doesn't mean we never have the piece of cake (as the yogis would say!) but we aren't being controlled by our desire.
In order to work on non-attachment we must practice it. Progress comes through being very aware of our emotional responses to all situations we find ourselves in. We must monitor our thoughts and our reactions by way of choosing not to associate with them. We must not attach to our thoughts. With practice we exist in a state of non-attachment while interacting with the world just as we always have.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga. This blog is about their experience with yoga practice, study and teaching.
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