Uncover your impurities
This article consists of 6 chapters
- Introduction: uncover your impurities
- Avidya: ignorance
- Asmita: I feeling – the ego
- Raga: attachment to pleasure
- Dwesha: aversion
- Abhinivesah: fear of death + conclusion
Today you can read part 4:
Raga: Attachment to pleasure
YS 2.7 Raga is the liking accompanying pleasure
In his book, ‘Four chapters of freedom’, Swami Satyananda Saraswati writes: ‘ Whenever there is an object of pleasure and the mind runs after it, wishing to have the pleasurable experience again and again, this is called Raga. This is not very difficult to eliminate; one can eliminate it from ones personality with a little jerk, given either by nature or created by ones own self’
Attachment is all about desire. Whether it’s a partner, a friend, a practice, an object, a pet, a food or a thought. Raga is excessive attachment to pleasurable things and is based on the assumption that I this pleasure will contribute to your (everlasting) happiness. Life experiences teach us in the end this is an illusion. Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to need or want things but whenever you feel your desire has become an affliction it creates suffering. A healthy ‘need’ or ‘want’ is one that gives happiness, inspires you and has lightness to it. 🙂
An exercise that helps me defining what I really need is examining my desire. For example: I want a new bike and I have doubt to buy it. Whenever I remark there is doubt; it usually helps me to make a list of reasons why yes and why no. As we are talking right now about a material object, a bike, I can make the following lists:
I want a new bike because:
- I want a new bike because I want to cycle from the Netherlands to Paris
- A good bike with enough gears will help me to climb the hills easily.
Then I make another list. I don’t want this bike because:
- It cost a lot of money
- I may be able to borrow one from a friend.
Then I take a moment to take a look at both lists. When my anti-desire drops, I know I have to follow my heart and feed my desire. When my anti desire doesn’t drop, I know I don’t really want and need it.
Hormones and neutransmitters to boost a positive feeling
Once you know something gives you pleasure, our brain wants to repeat that experience over and over. I found an interesting article on the internet, written by Dr Suzan Biali in which she presents five of the main hormones and neurotransmitters, plus ways to boost them. This information can be interesting for you to know how you can feed or diminish your pleasures.
This neurotransmitter drives your brain’s reward system. If you are praised at work for doing a good job, you’ll get a delicious dopamine-hit resulting in feelings of well-being. Dopamine also drives pleasure-seeking behavior. You can boost it by setting realistic goals of activities that have a positive impact on your life and achieving them. Examples of these can be very simple. Example ‘ this afternoon I clean my room or this morning I am going to prepare a proper breakfast’. Would you like to make these activities even more nice? Put your favorite music on. In 2011 study, published in Nature Neuroscience – McGill University researchers reported that listening to music you love creates a boost of feel good dopamine.
This mood-boosting neurotranmitter was made famous by SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants, which increase the brain serotonin level. Most effective and natural way to boost serotonin is by exercising daily. Also carbohydrates increase serotonin levels; so eating healthy high fiber sources of carbs such as dence whole grain bread or quinoa can help you to boost your serotonin level up!
Often this hormone is called the “ love hormone” because is has both a neurotransmitter and a hormone. Spending time with loved ones, hug your friend, cuddling with your partner, kids or your pet and being kind to others in general stimulates oxytocin.
This hormone protects you form irritability and anxiety; it keeps your mood steady. Estrogen decreases with menopause, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and extreme exercise. The estrogen/progesterone imbalance in menopause can also negatively affect the mood. Stress relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, taking a hot bath or taking a massage or whatever works for you- can balance them.
This hormone helps you to sleep and prevents anxiety, irritability and mood swings. Keep progesterone levels at optimum levels by eating well and avoiding saturated fat and sugar. Further avoid stress and get regular physicals.
Attachment to a person
I care a lot about other people. If they are not well, it’s sometimes not easy to let my worries go. Example:
Yesterday I was having a beautiful dinner with friends, when I heard the sound of a whatsapp message on my phone. The message came from the boyfriend of a good friend in the Netherlands. He told me my friend has had a traumatic accident with her bike and has a skull fracture and brain blooding. On the moment she is in the hospital and it’s not clear if there’s any brain damage. When I read the message I remarked the happy and relax feeling I had, flew down from me at ones and got replaced for sadness and a state of being worried.
Being conscious about the change of my emotional state, I decided to close my eyes and observe my breath for a moment. After a while I felt positive energy flowing into my body again. Then I repeated the mantra ‘Loka samastah sukinoh bhavantu’ three times for myself. This mantra means: ‘may all human being be happy and free from suffering’. I wrote the boyfriend of my friend back. I told him that I felt sorry and that I’ll send positive vibrations to my friend and her boyfriend in my meditations. Afterwards I joined my friends again and, to my surprise, I was actually able to enjoy the evening again.
Now, when I’m writing this, again a feeling of sadness is coming over me. And that’s ok. It can be there. I accept that I cannot change the situation of my friend. I’m in India now so I can’t personally visit her. The only thing I can do now is continue to take good care of myself and sending her and her loved ones my love.
Actually; this exercise you can do for yourself as well. Whenever you feel attached to a partner, a friend, a practice, an object, a pet, a food a feeling or a thought and you want to come over it, just take a moment to connect with yourself. Close your eyes, observe your breath. Allow yourself to feel. Now. Put one hand on the heart area and one hand on the lower belly. Concentrate on your breath. On every exhale you send the breath in direction of your lower belly and concentrate on letting go the attachment. Every inhale you move the attention towards the heart center and refresh yourself with new air, new prana, new life energy. Get in touch with your eternal Self by stripping away the things in mind that are bothering you. 🙂
‘ The chemistry of happiness’ oktober 2014 www.besthealthmag.ca
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Four chapters on freedom, Yoga publication trust – Bihar. India.
Picture 1: www.omkarrayoga.com
Picture 2:Painting by Sophie Nusselder