How do you approach a problem? Do you decide a course of action and stay on that path regardless of the results? Do you throw up your hands at the first hint of trouble, of not understanding? Or maybe you’re the type that can breakdown a challenge into bite-size pieces and systematically progress through until the problem’s been solved? I tend towards tunnel-vision, bull-headedness….
Yoga addresses the duality of nature. The practice of yoga strives for balance; be it between flexibility and stability, expansion and containment, strength and ease the aim is to have diametrically opposed views/principles meet in the middle. Abhyasa and Vairagya are paired concepts that both serve as an example of the duality and the goal of finding equilibrium.
Abhyasa is the effort put forth; a willpower and dedication to practice…knowing practice makes perfect. Though that saying rings true so too is “Too much of a good thing is bad.” Pressing the body to do things too fast and too soon will result in injury. Vairagya, on the other hand, is detachment to the result; it’s letting go, acceptance and relinquishing ownership. However too much vairagya precludes growth and leads to stagnation. We need both abhyasa and vairagya ain equal measure for positive transformations to take place. I’ve described abhyasa and vairagya in terms of their influence on yoga practice. The principle of abhyasa and vairagya, as with other yogic principles, can be practiced off the mat and applied to everyday situations—what’s your problem-solving style? How do you channel your inner Goldilocks to find the right approach and mind-set that is 'just right'?
I’m the kind of person that thinks I can do whatever needs to be done—give me an assignment, a task, a challenge and I’ll keep plugging at it, working away until it’s accomplished. My vairagya seems to be non-existent…except in one situation: Cooking! Though I’d rather not have to cook, I know that’s not reasonable or even possible. So I continue to try. I’ve been trying for soooo long and I’ll keep on, but I have come to the point where I have no expectation of what may come out of the oven, off the stove or even out of the microwave! It started with my 8th grade Home Ec teacher quietly bypassing a taste of whatever we were to be baking/cooking that day. I think she recognized there might be a problem with my skills when my attempt at baking bread looked more like a brick. I had no idea why the yeast didn’t make the dough rise. Recognition turned to concern when my Black Forest Cake frosting wasn’t creamy and smooth but runny with what seemed like bits of charcoal floating in it. And then the Banana Cream Pie fiasco…think Scrambled Egg Pie. Yes I still put meringue on top. So, I enter the kitchen with a certain amount of trepidation, a humble servant to the recipe: measure, pour, combine and mix; preheat, set timer, wait and serve….it may not look like much, but it’s usually still edible.
What situations do you struggle in finding the balance between effort and acceptance?
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