Mountain Yoga

Ice & Fire, Hate And Desire

Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah(a).
Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras I:2.

In yoga, hate and desire are equal obstacles. Both are based on past experience and stand in the way of our ability to experience the Self, the One Reality, which is the true nature of our being, which is Bliss. Desire is running after something, while aversion is running away. Either way, you’re running. Not much stillness in that!

Often students tell me that they do much better in yoga class than in their home practice because at home they are surrounded by tasks that need to be done (desire). The truth is, at Mountain Yoga they’re also surrounded by tasks that need to be done; they’re just not THEIR tasks. So it’s not the tasks that disturb your home practice, it’s the desire. Let go of the desire and your home practice will improve.

As for aversion, we are familiar with this. Choose a task that you dread (preparing your income tax return may be an example). How many of us put it off and off, and then, as the deadline nears, we buck up and just do it? This works, kind of. The task gets done, but the aversion is still there. Well, what if you let go of the aversion in the first place? How would this affect your ability to complete the task, and what would be your state of mind before, during and afterward?

I’m not talking about overcoming your aversion or repressing your desire. I’m talking about eliminating them. Letting go of desire and aversion is a good practice, but not an easy one. So start small. Focus on the desire/aversion, not on their object.

For example, letting go of your aversion to eating meat doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Just let go of the aversion. You will be more at ease (still), and you may even improve your relationships with people who do eat meat!

Letting go of your desire to eat chocolate doesn’t mean you can’t eat chocolate (although you will eat less). Without the desire, you will be happier and more at ease – a still mind.

Your asana practice will help. Ujjayi Pranayama will help a lot. Meditation will definitely bring you more stillness and clarity and diminish your desire/aversion. Actually, you don’t have to give up your desires and aversions at all. Just do more yoga, and over time, they will dissolve away!

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