Yoga Sutras Study – 1.12
Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah
Continuous, uninterrupted practice and detachment will stop the mind from fluctuating.
The mind is always fluctuating as long as our senses are working. For everything we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch, our mind will start analyzing and fluctuating, creating something called “feeling”. That’s why we keep experiencing joy, happiness, anger, pain, sadness, and etc.. Even when we are sitting still without doing anything, our mind travels out of the body. What am I going to eat for dinner? What time is the coffee shop closing? Will it be crowded there tonight? Which day is it today? Thursday, it’s a weekday, shouldn’t be crowded I guess… See? In less than 10 seconds, our mind has created so many questions. With the mind continuously flowing outwards towards sensory experiences, one could hardly concentrate on what he is doing, and therefore miss the essential experience which could lead to enlightenment or a blissful state.
Abhyasa means continuous practice. It is one of the two principle practices which attributes to the cessation of identification with the fluctuations of mind. This “continuous practice” refers to concentrating on what one truly is, the Self, through the practice of various techniques, which include asanas, pranayama, meditation, mudras, mantras, and etc.. In order to establish a good foundation, this practice needs to be done for a long time without interruption. Only in this way, one could establish a habit of inward mindedness.
Vairagya means detachment, or non-attachment, i.e. do not depend on anything or make the life and happiness depend on anything. Learn to let go of many attachments, to cease to identify with which we are not, which is clouding the true Self. Only when the practitioner let go of those sense or memory based thoughts and emotions, the true Self manifests.
Both abhayasa and vairagya work together in cleansing of egoism which comes from identifying with the fluctuations arising within the mind. In this materialized world, egoism has become a common disease among all human beings. Almost everyone tends to identify himself with the emotions, memories, or sensations; but forget the fact that we are part of the true Self, which is the pure, the Absolute. Instead of feeling “I am this emotion”, “I am this sensation”, one should realize that “I am conscious of this emotion”, “I am conscious of this sensation”. By abhayasa, a positive direction is set for the practitioner to follow and one could establish a habit of witnessing life’s passing subjective and objective experiences. This can happen only after a long time of practice with devotion. By vairagya, the practitioner learns to turn inwards to merge with the Self in the midst of all changes and passing shows.