I often hear the phrase, "this too shall pass" as a way to comfort someone who is going through a difficult time.
It reminds them that everything changes with the passage of time.
As I watched my fourth child graduate from fifth grade on Tuesday, I thought with a twinge of sadness, "this TOO shall pass".
The things that we want to pass, pass. The things that we don't necessarily want to pass, pass as well.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali says that it is an illusion to think that we can hold onto anything because eventually all things come to an end. When we are in this illusion, we cause ourselves to suffer. Yoga is practiced as a way to reduce our suffering and get to a place of peaceful awareness.
One of the main concepts taught in the Yoga Sutras is vairagya. It is translated as, "non attachment". According to the wisdom of yoga, it is our attachment to the ever changing nature of our family, friends, possesions, our bodies, beliefs, and ideas that bring about our suffering. When we "detach" from the things that we think we can hold onto, we will suffer less.
The word "detachment" can feel a bit cold hearted. It almost sounds like we shouldn't care about people and all of the things that we have invested so much time, effort, and love into.
A much better translation that I came across recently is to "hold lightly".
Imagine holding a small kitten. You "hold (the kitten) lightly". You are gentle in your embrace, and you use care and attention as you enjoy the soft fur and the sound of it's purring.
On the other hand, if you grip the kitten too tightly for fear of dropping it, it will surely try to get away. It may even scratch or bite you. Whether you hold the kitten lightly or hold the kitten with a very tight grip, it will still leave you at some point.
With each manner of embracing the kitten, you will be left feeling an emptiness in your hands and lap after it is gone.
If you held the kitten tightly however, your empty hands will be left bitten and scratched so your suffering will be greater.
Life is like that too. Vairagya, "holding lightly" reminds us to appreciate and be aware of those things that we hold dear to us. If we grip them too tightly in an attempt to keep them in our possesion, we may actually push them away. "Holding lightly" allows us to stay present and focus on the moments that we have together instead of focusing on the fear of what it will be like when they are gone.
Next time you feel possesive about the things that you "own", hold them lightly or maybe even set them free. With a regular yoga practice that includes vairagya, you may even become free.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras