Blog I wrote for MBSY Studio. "Yoga and the Practice of Detachment"
The past month has been very difficult for me as I lost my baby boy Valentino, my dog, my confidant, my love. I had him for 12 years, and he taught me so much about life and unconditional love. I learned to live in the moment and let go of things that didn’t matter. Every day I looked forward to just relaxing at home with him. He was just an amazing soul. Then on August 31st, he taught me his last lesson as he gave us his last breath. My husband and I knew he was slowly getting old, but thought we had another couple of years with him. As we looked in his beautiful brown eyes, he let us know it was time to say goodbye and without giving all the details, we did.
As a yogi, my daily practice is a reminder that I have to detach, to let go, to expect nothing and to be in the moment no matter what. Well, it works wonderfully when everything goes well. But right now, it is truly difficult.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali it is said that only through Practice (Abhyasa) and non-attachment (Variagya) can you realize your true self. As I discussed this sutra with my gurugi Manju Pattabhi Jois, he explained it in simple and easy terms. He said, “You know when something beautiful and exciting happens in your life how wonderful you feel, you should try to feel the same way when something negative happens too. Or what about taking the positive and the negative the same way. These are only emotions, colors of the mind.”
Abhyasa means cultivating the lifestyle, actions, speech, and thoughts, as well as the spiritual practices that lead in the positive direction rather than the negative. Vairagya is the practice of gradually letting go of the mental colorings that lead us away from the spiritual, giving into attachments and aversions.
It is easy to teach others, to let go, to detach. And it is easy to teach that theory; but to practice it, it is painful and difficult. I realize that as I live my human experience and learn to deal with mourning my beloved Valentino, I find deep comfort in my yoga practice. I cry a lot, but I keep practicing and learning the lesson. All of us experience life and death, joy and sorrow, health and sickness. It is how we approach the color of life that makes it different. For me, it is my daily yoga practice that helps me balance the colors of life. Practice, and everything gets a little better every day. As Patthabi Jois used to say, “99% practice and 1% theory.” As per Valentino, I am learning to focus on the joys he brought me instead of the sorrow I am feeling now. I am coloring my mind differently and more peacefully.