One way to interpret the Sutras of Patanjali is as a practical guide to relieve unnecessary suffering, showing us ways to come unstuck from attachments that trick us into believing they serve a good purpose and ways to catch ourselves before getting swept up in the dramas of the mind. In my case and this sounds like a big statement because it kinda is, the big majority of any suffering in my life was usually as a result of drinking, not necessarily from anything major happening as a result of it, but more my capacity to handle life’s bumps or to excel in any way. I feel like alcohol was stunting my spiritual growth on the sly.Taking me further away from my ideal self one hangover at a time. On a recent Blindboy Podcast episode, he spoke about how the further away your actual and ideal self are away from one another the less chance of contentment you have and I was like DAMN that shit is so true to me, but I digress… back to the sutras...
I am in no means savvy on these texts just btw before I get into this! I am currently within the study of the first chapter and taking my sweet time. When I first attempted to read the Sutras I was a bit baffled and in hindsight just not ready. My top tip for anyone else feeling that way about them is to find a translation and commentary that resonates with you, and then start taking your own notes. When I realised that the lessons were within the decoding of the layered and somewhat cryptic content, that's when they came to life. There are certainly no quick fixes in the sutras nor in sobriety, and anyway, quick fixes are often short lived in my experience.
I'd like to share how I have found support systems within the philosophies of yoga. There is a concept called Nirodha which is in a nutshell a training of the mind, showing us how to redirect attention and cultivate discipline. This can be particularly useful to call upon when in the midst of a craving. So if I am to lead with Nirodha the idea is to move my attention away from temptations towards bad habits and instead put energy into actions that promote growth and goodness only. Some sober gains taking up these new spaces have been learning to drive (still a long way to go but I’m going!), realising that my sober dancing is the same as my drunk dancing and is just as much if not more fun and pushing myself to use my second language, soon to be teaching a yoga class and pranayama workshop in Spanish!
This redirectioning technique is so simple yet effective. Cravings now seldom crop up, apart from catching myself occasionally playing out movie trailers in my head of romanticised drinking sessions when I see tables of friends sat out looking fabulous or whatever, to which I soon remind myself that that is only a snippet of the reality of a boozy afternoon. And don’t get me wrong I am not retracting the fact that I have had some amazingly fun boozy afternoons in my time, and am not looking down on those that do, it’s just not in this part of the movie of my life.