Vairagya is the Sanskrit term describing a state of letting go of attachments. Often, this term is defined as “detachment”. The Yoga sutras tell us the core principles of yoga are abhyasa “practice” and vairagya. When we come to our mat or meditate, we experience abhyasa. When we work to become better at something, we are in abhyasa. We can often set goals and see our progress with practice. Vairagya is more subtle and experienced in stages.
First, we make efforts to lead the mind away from things we know don’t serve us – lust, pride, fear, ego, self-deprecation, materialism etc. We also become aware our strong feelings and thoughts that produce adverse reactions. This stage is Yatamana.
Next in the Vyatireka stage, we become more aware of how attached or detached we are towards things and feeling.
In stage three, Ekendriya, our attachment or aversion becomes even more subtle.
In the last stage, Vasirara, all the need to attach or push away is dissolved.
Step-by-step, being aware, doing our best to choose right response and right action, we can move closer to the final stage of vairagya. Yoga is a journey. Each time we practice, we move down our path to Self-discovery. We gather tools to be more aware of our thoughts, words and actions. As we pay attention to what we crave or despise, we can become less intense and more accepting of what feels right for us and what feels right to let go.