Tag Archive for: desire

EGO: I experimented with who I choose to interact with in a few ways. For people who I feel physically attracted to I have purposely avoided flirting or even interacting with them, and I have also attempted to interact on a more authentic level by checking my motivation. After a class discussion about desires being at the base of things, I realized that in this case it’s not sexual desire that is at the bottom, but the desire to be loved/noticed/appreciated. Putting value in another’s reactions to me motivates my thoughts and deeds when it comes to sex and relationships. Furthermore I observed that because this is often my motivation for interacting with a person, I presume that someone who approaches me has the same motivation, that they are attracted to me. Which is a huge ego-trip.

 BEING PRESENT: I experimented with talking to a girl I had a crush on, and she engaged me in a conversation that led to us making plans to spend some time together for non-romantic reasons. However, this led my mind to extrapolate what might happen in the future. Through this situation I realized that it is one way that I have a hard time being present. If I am truly present in the moment I can have a conversation, not project into the future, and not worry about what will happen next.

 OTHER NOTES: When forming our experiments, our group brought up the question ‘how can Bramacharya be accessible to everyone in our modern society?’ Later group discussions reflected that our individual experiements were not proving to be terribly difficult. I think we anticipated them being more challenging because we entered them with limiting thinking like “I can’t…” have sex, fantasize, etc. For me, forming my hypothesis helped me focus on the positive saying “I want to respect people by thinking of them in ways that see them for who they are as people, and the Divinity within them”. That shift from the negative to the positive is in itself a redirection of my energy from the base to the spiritual, which is the point of Bramacharya.

I fought this experiment every inch of the way, whining like a child who doesn’t want to eat her vegetables even though it is good for her. I started thinking about aparigraha and to be quite honest I was a little smug because I had started practicing this yama a few years ago without even realizing it. I had cleaned out my closet, getting rid of things that I didn’t need and have worked on releasing myself from the ideas that I held onto so tightly. I opened my mind and life up to new ideas, which helped me to accept that my old way of thinking wasn’t very healthy for me. Christianity wasn’t benefiting me one bit, it actually made me very discontent. I found Baba Hari Dass’s observation of the three primary expressions of discontentment to resonate with me. I felt anger, deceit, covetousness, jealousy, hate, pride, lust and gluttony because of my attachment to people, things, and ideas (Silence Speaks,122).

One day I decided I didn’t want to feel those things anymore, and I knew what I had been doing for the last couple decades wasn’t working so I read Eckhart Tolle’s book “Awakening to your life’s purpose”. I felt awkward and embarrassed purchasing the book; it was like painting a big scarlet letter on my shirt saying I was a failure or a mental case. I was now reading a self-help book, utter shame enveloped my psyche but then I started reading his book and it made sense to me. My first hurdle was successful and I was excited to learn more about bettering myself. My new view on life was if you want peace, you have to start with yourself. So I tried to break the vicious circles I had created in my life and I struggled with that immensely. However, I found when I went to a yoga class I was more apt to feel more peaceful and project more peace in my actions, so I went every chance I was able.

I understand the basic concept of the yamas and the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating desire. That makes some sense to me. I have become more aware of my desires as they pop up during the day from grocery shopping to how I spend my day, and I can see the constant cycle of desire.

But are all desires bad? What about my desire to learn more about yoga? If I didn’t have that desire, I wouldn’t be taking this training and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn new meditation practices, breathing techniques, and spiritual practices such as the yamas. Without desire, can one grow?

And is desiring pleasurable things inherently bad if they are not harming others in any way? I can understand not being attached to the experience of pleasure and getting stuck constantly striving for pleasure. However, pleasurable things can bring solace and help calm the mind and body. I don’t want to live in a world without the glory of Bach’s music or the pleasures of a crisp fall day or the hug of a loved one.

And how does one live without desires? Like a blank slate with no goals? Is life just a series of routines—purifications, pranayma, meditation, asana, sleep? If that is enlightenment, I am not sure I want it. What is the point of being a living human being with senses if all one is doing is trying to quiet or negate them. I don’t understand a divine spirit creating humans with the capacity to feel and sense the world and then asking them to not feel or sense the world. That just seems like a cruel joke.

So if I have any conclusion from my random thoughts concerning the yamas and Patanjali’s yoga sutras, my conclusion is that the process of yoga needs to be a natural, organic process. Just saying or thinking that one needs to work on one of the yamas, does not mean that it will actually happen. While the yamas are about freeing oneself from desires, one needs to have the desire to free oneself to actually make progress. And my assumption is that one rarely chooses which yama to address, rather a situation will arise that demands attention and challenges one’s beliefs which then leads to exploration and realignment of one’s attitudes and behaviors.