Monday, November 07, 2011

on change & how it leads to suffering

The Yoga Sutras even tell us that suffering is a part of life. Even the wisest of the wise are subject to suffering simply because they too are in a body. Having a body and being a human being means that some things are out of our control or we have little control over. Some suffering is inevitable. We all experience hardships, trials, and tribulations.

Shit happens.

It is during these times that yoga provides us with the necessary tools to deal with and lessen suffering.

For thousands of years yogis studied the mind. They discovered that most of our suffering is a result of the workings of the mind. In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali tells us there are three reasons why we suffer:

1. Parinama – change in a perceived person, place, or general object.

2. Tapa – a thirst or a desire to repeat pleasurable experiences even when we suffer as a result.

3. Samskara – habits, patterns, effects of conditions from the past that continue to inform the present.

This information has provided me much relief and contemplation in the last month specifically in dealing with my Mom’s diagnosis and treatment of cancer and being in Mexico for our annual yoga teacher training (and eventually evacuating during said training).

I’ve been sitting, writing, and living with these three reasons for suffering. I love that one sutra, one thread, one little nugget from the sutras has provided with so much to contemplate and practice.

Of the three I've noticed that the first one, parinama has recently been my greatest source of struggle. Change is certainly the name of the game with parinama.

Interestingly enough, parinama is listed as one of the three cause of dis-ease in Ayurveda. In the Ayurvedic sense parinama is in reference to physical and mental change.

Even thousands of years ago the wise yogis were saying that if you can't get your mind under control, if you can't reign in the flow of your thoughts dis-ease will follow.

What do you think? Intriguing? Can you relate to any of the three?


Jen said...

I need to re-read the Yoga Sutras ... so much wisdom and guidance in those pages! Samskara is my struggle. I want to eat better, be more active, spend more time with others, etc., but yet I continue to sit at my desk at work and at home, eat just one more piece of chocolate five times a day, and continue doing what I've been doing that's not at all what I WANT to be doing. It's a curious thing. Intellectually I know what I need to do to make a change, but body and heart are keeping the status quo.

Lauren Janine said...

vata season too, wind, change, variability...

Michelle said...

This is such great stuff to think about, Sharon... I berate myself on why I so easily get caught up in my habits/patterns of worry and anxiety. I know there are things I can do (and have done) to prevent it or manage it, but I don't manage it very well when I'm not being self-aware. Parinama is interesting - but can't it also be a good thing? Can't a "change in a perceived person, place, or general object" be positive as well - for instance, I can be driving and perceive this person who cuts ahead of me to be a personal attack whereas I can change that perception to one that is more of "that person is probably a parent rushing from work to see his kid's show in school" (or something like that.) So perhaps in that sense it's not necessarily a cause for suffering? Or maybe that's just my misinterpretation?