By Swami Satrupananda
“I want this. I need that. I don’t want this. I don’t want that.”
Want, want, want. Need, need, need. Your mind churns over your desires. Again and again, it reviews what or where or how you are lacking. It’s exhausting both mentally and physically. And worst of all, you too often live your life based on an assumption of “not enough.”
What if you lived your life based on the assumption of enough or — better yet —abundance? The reality is that you are likely amongst the more fortunate in this world. You have Internet, you are literate and you have your basic needs met. This gives you the opportunity to focus on your spirituality. What if you saw the abundance in your life and wanted what you have?
There are many well-known gratitude practices to cultivate a different mindset. You can have a gratitude journal or jar. Our Ashram Staff meetings end with a gratitude moment. Each person shares what they are grateful for. These psychological practices can be powerful for changing your mind’s perspective.
Yet yoga approaches it differently. While psychology changes the content of your mind, yoga targets the source of the problem. Yoga looks at why your mind is thinking those thoughts. You want things because you feel incomplete, empty, not enough and/or alone. Yoga cures this feeling.
How? By revealing to you the fullness and completeness of who you truly are. When you feel like you are lacking something, you are not experiencing your true Essence. When you are being your true Essence, you know and experience that you are full and complete.
Yoga practices are designed to reveal to you the fullness that you are. Over time, the yogic process that you go through fills you up from the inside. You know this from your yoga practices already. You do poses or breathing practices and then feel calmer, more satisfied and at ease.
This is because you are experiencing your fullness on the inside. You learn to live in that fullness all the time. Then you see this same Essence being everyone and everything around you. Living in the fullness of your Essence, you don’t need anything on the outside. You don’t want or need anything to make you feel full.
D.r.s.tha-anu”sravaka-vishaya-vit.r.s.nasya vashiikaara-sa.mj~nyaa vairaagyam
— Yoga Sutras 1.15
Your mind becomes free from all desires, for externals and for things promised in the scriptures, giving a state of complete freedom and ease.
When you don’t want things, you gain great freedom. Your mind no longer churns over your desires. This frees up a tremendous amount of mental energy. With your thoughts changed, your words and actions also change. Instead of being a slave to your desires, you are free.
This freedom also includes the freedom to give more, love more and do more. With actions, thoughts and words motivated by getting something, you are limited by what you can do. You are limited by your focus on what you can get. When you are full, you are looking at what to give. Your capacity grows. You have great freedom. It’s the best way to live.
My favorite way to experience the truth of these teachings is by repeating mantra. So many times, I’ve turned to mantra when I have been caught up in my desires. I repeat mantra. Sometimes, it’s for just a few minutes. Sometimes it takes longer. And, without fail, the mantra fills me up from the inside. The mantra reveals my Self to me.
The fullness of my Self leaves no room for desire. Then the same external circumstances look completely different to me. Being full on the inside, my heart overflows. I am looking at what I can give. I care and I want to help. When you fill up from the inside, then you love more as well as care more. You are fully and effectively engaged in the world.
In the sutra above, the Sanskrit word vairaagyam is often translated as non-attachment or dispassion. This can lead to a misconception that you must distance yourself from the world. But it’s the opposite really. Filled up with knowing your own Self, you are freed from neediness and desires. An abundance of love and caring fills you. You stay engaged in the world so you can give from this abundance.