A Balanced Life with Yoga Sutra

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A balanced life with yoga sutra

Do you have enough time to have a moment to yourself? You most probably will answer with “chance’d be a good thing!” and you are not alone in this. The world feels heavy on our shoulders- with living costs going high, expectations on us piling up, our dreams sitting in dust and our minds wrestling with unrest from all this happening at the same time to our little goddamn mind. 

So what do we do? We surely cannot change the economy. We neither can change our current personal wellbeing. Or, can we? Just this one?

Maybe not a change like a turn of 180 degrees in a week, but 1 degree a time, probably. We know how that slow progress bugs us. So we turned to the good old times to see what did wise men in the ancient time preferred to listen to. 

And this is what we found:


Abhyasa Vairagyabhyam Tan Nirodhah”

The ancient wise men who composed the Sutras for Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, say this is what we should be paying attention to. Big words, we know. So the entire sentence translates to “With both practice and non-attachment do you reach the place where suffering is no more”. 

In short, ‘do not give up, but let go’. 

Let’s explore that.

Rishi Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is a collection of Sutras, or wisdom you may call it, that shares ancient knowledge on how one can better himself. Rishi Patanjali and his successors added to this book. These valuable lessons have been carried forward in practice and in preaching for thousands of years. 

In chapter one, this 12th Sutra, is about two core traits Patanjali held important to reach a balanced life:

Abhyasa

Abhyasa or Practice, refers to being persistent in what you want to achieve. When in constant practice of anything, we discover the very essence of that thing over and over again. Anything that might distract us slowly loses its grasp on us, allowing us more mental capacity to make more room for our practice.

Vairagya

Vairagya or non-attachment, refers to the art of being free from the holds of worldly things. A state of being where you can be involved in events, with people, your own emotions – yet above them, so they cannot have a hold on you. 

Vairagya vs. Sanyas: 

There is another terminology that often get mixed with Vairagya and that is Sanyas. Vairagya talks about non-attachment. While, leaving home to go live in a cave with tree bark on is something you would do if you followed Sanyas. 

How are they different? Sanyas talks about detachment – absence of attachment. And Vairagya is about non-attachment: where you can be harmoniously present among things yet would not be compelled by them, where you only will be the master of your decisions. 

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How These Connect With a Balanced Life?

Here’s the short answer:

When we never give up on the things that matter to us yet allow no power over us from it or anything else, we are free to create and free to be. And isn’t that the ultimate dream? To be able to breathe easy knowing you are in your own right direction and nothing in this physical realm can command your soul – not people, not capitalism, not events in motion around you – is a freedom of a different scale. 

This freedom lets your inner expressions come out and live outward as it is inward. You strike a balance right there. The ultimate harmony is to see who we are inside to mirror outside. This eradicates so many obstacles and creates an expansion in your life and mind to create fully and expressively.

If you were to dive deeper in this philosophy, you will find similar wisdom in Buddhism as well. Gautam Buddha took off on his journey after understanding what attachment does to our minds and that led to his epic quest in realising of the atman and the Noble Eightfold Path.

Something to note about these nuggets of wisdom is that trying to integrate these practices in life takes time. And how much life has nurtured you will eventually play a part in how you absorb them. 

Now that you have an idea of its overarching benefits, let’s pick a point in life that famously goes off balance despite having a lot of experience in being a human by then: 

The Midlife:

It happens between the age of 40-65 and our bodies change rapidly in this stage. Outwardly no matter what is bothering you – wrinkles and receding hairlines, the inward changes would require far more of our attention. The reason it has its own designated crisis is because this crisis can affect self-concept and self-confidence, leading to changes in moods, behaviours, emotions, and relationships as people cope with the transition to midlife. Midlife is a time when people are confronted by a major shift in life. 

They have to come to terms with their limitations, and confront regrets about the past. Someone in middle age may face challenges like illness, financial strain, career transitions, marital discord, divorce, loss, and the onset of ageing! All of these issues at once are more than puzzling. And to keep a foot in the ongoing game of being human in this complex world with all these dangling like swords on top of you is just too much to bear for a lot of us. 

Does everyone go through the crisis? No. Is it normal to go through one? Of course. You are only human. But because all of these issues are pressing, it becomes inevitable to turn to something that can anchor you in this mad storm.

Midlife Balance:

Yes, it will take time. But if you begin early, by the time you are in the middle, you are already ahead of your present self in Vairagya and Abhyasa. The anchor of Abhyasa will keep your focus in the right place, and Vairagya will make sure you are in a constant flow and not stagnant in your stream of thoughts. 

The modern world is hellbent on selling us a lifestyle of instant gratification, but we can always look back on these ancient texts to see why those days get marked as good ones. They say nothing good gets achieved in a hurry; nothing good gets kept in ignorance. 

To achieve and cherish something that actually radiates value, constant practice and reverence is imperative. To elevate that high, we need exactly the opposite amount of matter holding us down. 

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Conclusion: 

No matter where you are in life, these sacred wisdom are always a great resource to add to your inner wellbeing. And the beautiful thing about inner wellbeing is that it always shows up in your physical health, in your interpersonal relationships, your work and motivation. 

The ripple effect you create by attending to your higher good is simply marvellous. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither did something as little as a garden. Your rich self similarly needs tending to as well. Take one day at a time and build on it with another. May Abhyasa and Vairagya guide you forward.

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