By: Stephanie Miller
“Vairagya literally means “transparent.” Just as clear flowing water in the river acquires the color of the soil beneath, one who is transparent has no color of his own. Color is a product of the breaking up of light, the basis of our ability to see. Vairagya is an unbroken or “free-of-all-distortion” state that can light the world. It is only in a state of vairagya one can see as It Is.” (Isha)
In sutra 1.2 of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines the state of Yoga as the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. He then gives us a 2-step method in sutra 1.12 for how to stop those fluctuations and thus how to attain Yoga.
1.12 abhyasa-vairagyabhyam tan-nirodhah
The mind is made tranquil by practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment (vairagya)
This sutra explains how to experience a state of being beyond thoughts. It says, in order to experience quiet in the mind you must practice. As you practice, vairagya will naturally develop. When the mind becomes quiet we’re able to see the true reality of who we are.
To practice anything means we stay with it for a while. We commit to sit with something and each time we have a reaction to it note your reaction and then let it go. Over and over we do this for as long as we need to. Over time what is no longer useful to us just falls away. We become less and less attached to our mistaken identities. We’re able to see ourselves in truth rather than as a collection of all the things that run perpetually through our minds.
What’s needed to sit with something especially if it’s difficult or uncomfortable is vairagya – non-attachment and dispassion. Vairagya is facing something (even if it’s positive) and not identifying with it, not becoming attached to it so that it becomes a way you define yourself. Whatever you’re feeling, whatever you’re experiencing is just that and nothing more. You are not the body, mind, or emotion but limitless joy.