Raga and Devesha or Attachment and Aversion

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“A feeling of aversion or attachment toward something is your clue that there’s work to be done.” –Ram Dass

Raga and Devesha, or in english, attachment and aversion. As Humans we spend our whole lives cultivating likes and dislikes. It helps us to stay safe and healthy. It can help us identify who we are as individuals, and create unique aspects of our personalities. These likes and dislikes can also limit our experience in life. They can create anxiety and fear, because of this the yoga philosophy describes these concepts as Kleshas or blocks on our spiritual path. To connect with yourself in a yogic way, you are letting go of the individual self to focus on the higher Self.  So any absolute should be a clue that there is work to be done. Learning about Raga and Devesha can be a helpful practice when we want to connect with the world around us in a different way. We can become so attached to the beliefs we hold, to the concept of like and dis-like. Sometimes we create the concepts ourselves and sometimes they come from what we were told to do, or not to do. For example; think of a food you thought was weird or yucky when you were little. Why did you think that ? The opinion may have come from you, or another person telling you how gross it was. As you grow up you are very vocal about how you hate that food, it is a part of your identity. You may even judge others by weather or not they share your aversion to that food. As you get a little older and wiser you might start to think, do I really dislike this food? Perhaps a close friend just loves it, or you smell a particular recipe that peaks your appetite, only to find out it has that food in it. Eventually you soften and try the food again. Did you like it? It is possible that you may have loved that food earlier on, but your mind would not let go of the aversion, so you never tried it. Food is a fairly simple example but you can see the concept of attachment and aversion. The same thing is true when you like something. You may go around something that is good for you, or could be a great experience, to get to that familiar space, to go back to what you know you like.  The idea is to let go of all preconceived notions and just experience life as it comes.

“Loving, hating, having expectations: all these are attachments. Attachment prevents the growth of one’s true being.” –Lao Tzu

By letting go of the “shoulds” and the “I always/ I never” statements we can open ourselves to new experiences. We can create space for growth and enjoyment. Its not that you won’t have preferences or opinions. In fact if you can let go of the absolutes, and really be in the moment, you will most likely enjoy those things even more. When you are presented with something you dislike you may be able to get through it with a better attitude.  This practice can help us accept inevitable changes in life. In this way, letting go of attachment can help you to find peace of mind.

“One develops attachment to sense objects by thinking about sense objects. Desire for sense objects comes from attachment to sense objects, and anger comes from unfulfilled desires.” –Bhagavad Gita

So next time you hear your self say “it should have been____”,  “I always ____” or “I’ll never _____” stop for a moment and look at why. See if you can take a step back and see it differently. Start to notice how attachment and aversion effect your life. See what you can let go of. Its a slow practice but worth it! ~love and light Robin

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