Em­body­ing the su­tra

As in­ter­preted by Natasha Ri­zopou­los

Yoga Journal - - Practice Well -

SU­TRA 1.12 in­tro­duces two es­sen­tial el­e­ments of yogic phi­los­o­phy:

ab­hyasa (per­sis­tent ef­fort) and vairagya (non-at­tach­ment to the re­sult). When prac­ticed to­gether, they can serve as a spir­i­tual and prac­ti­cal roadmap for nav­i­gat­ing al­most ev­ery as­pect of life with greater equa­nim­ity.

Like so much of Patan­jali’s wis­dom, the bril­liance of Su­tra 1.12 lies in the sim­plic­ity of its premise and the uni­ver­sal­ity of its ap­pli­ca­tion. The ba­sic gist: If you can be res­o­lute in your ef­forts and, in equal mea­sure, not be fix­ated on the out­come of those ef­forts, your con­scious­ness will be­come less hec­tic, and

These men­tal mod­i­fi­ca­tions are re­strained by prac­tice and non-at­tach­ment.” YOGA SU­TRA 1.12

con­tin­ued on page 52

your vrit­tis (men­tal mod­i­fi­ca­tions or ha­bit­ual thought pat­terns) will still or set­tle.

Of course, this is eas­ier said than done. Many of us have a ten­dency to­ward one end of the en­er­getic spec­trum. Those who are in­dus­tri­ous and in­clined to­ward ac­tion are some­times too goal ori­ented and at­tached to re­sults, while those who are more re­laxed and easy­go­ing can fall prey to las­si­tude and lack per­sis­tence in their ef­forts. Each of these ex­tremes can lead to an ag­i­tated mind: Chas­ing af­ter spe­cific ends can pro­duce a dis­turbed or rest­less psy­che, while the in­abil­ity to com­mit to a course of ac­tion can make for a scat­tered and dis­tracted mind.

Like so many things in yoga, the so­lu­tion is to find a path that is less bi­nary, where op­po­sites can co­ex­ist and bal­ance each other. That’s what Su­tra 1.12 is about: cul­ti­vat­ing the abil­ity to be stead­fast and de­ter­mined with­out fo­cus­ing on the fruits of one’s labors. The out­come is not the point. It’s the qual­ity of mind that ac­com­pa­nies the work that is of value—the abil­ity to nur­ture a calm, cu­ri­ous, ob­ser­vant in­tel­li­gence. So wher­ever you’re feel­ing chal­lenged or stuck—maybe you’re strug­gling through your Chat­u­ranga, be­set by a chatty brain in med­i­ta­tion or Child’s Pose, or ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a rough patch with a loved one—this su­tra in­vites you to take ac­tion and try again and again with­out at­tach­ment to the re­sults. And to ob­serve the ef­fect on your con­scious­ness when you do.

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