Detaching from pain

(I wrote and originally posted this item in March 2011.)

Much is written relative to Yoga Sutras 1.12, on practice and detachment, and 1.15, on renunciation as detachment from desires.  Most writings deal with how to detach from pleasure. Perhaps this is because commentators view that as the harder thing to do. I don’t agree and I wish more had been written about detaching from pain. I could use some help on that. Pleasure is fleeting, and most of us know that. Pain seems so much more enveloping and hard to escape. And maybe that is the problem, that we try to escape pain. This is far from trying to detach.

This topic came up while e-mailing about a yoga workshop on grieving that was to include a discussion on “embracing change”. My correspondent felt this meant accepting change “happily or willingly”. There is a place between being happy about change or hating it. Neither is detachment. I think that the trick, the pratipaksa, contrary thought, to hating change is not to embrace it, but to find equanimity within it. That seems like a good thing to aim for, given change happens, no matter our will.

I think back to some things Manouso Manos said during a workshop in March 2011 in Los Angeles about luck and free will and our lives’ involving both. That to do yoga, we must “show up”. This is our act of free will. In the midst of luck, good or bad, or change, good or bad, we can act from free will. This seems to me to say not that we are embracing change or pain or pleasure, but that we exercise the will to exist within ourselves in the midst of it. This is the path tosantosa.

Leave a Reply