I notice that when discussion turns to the 'kleshas' it tends to focus more on attachment ('Raga' as Sage Patanjali terms it). But its quiet but powerful sister, aversion ('Dvesa') has always intrigued me!
As we move along the path of transformation (whether that's through sound, meditation, asana, knowledge) we may start to shed behaviours that long seemed 'normal' and begin to associate with people who share different values and 'norms'. Suddenly our Saturday night involves cacao and kirtan; our diet changes, we bin the telly!
Its important to remember that yoga doesn't give us 'rules' but gives us the conscious space to examine the effects (like a scientist) of behaviour on our energy and mindset (does it bring us towards or away from balance & stillness?). While associating with new people, reading inspiring books or going on retreat are great at shedding light on new ways of being, change that lasts must come from within.
Non-attachment is a process of shedding rather than banning; as we feel more ourselves we begin to let go of the props we believed we needed to be happy or successful or beautiful et al.
Aversion creeps in when we are forcing change from the outside, when we have swallowed what we were told without finding out how we feel. It's a subtler trap than attachment; as we push away ideas or people or things we create resistance; as we create labels like 'unyogic' we set ourselves up for failure.
Does this sit at odds with the idea of renunciation? I don't think so: when we are deeply attached we may first have to step away completely, which takes a lot of strength and may cause discomfort or sadness. We can clearly observe the effects of not having versus having something or someone, only when we are not drowning in it. We begin to take back our power.
But at some point we realise we don't know if we are still attached (or just averse), because we daren't go near for fear of slipping backwards. Sometimes we can use yoga to replace rigid bodies with rigid mindsets...pushing everything away that might dent our perfect body or image; believing our way to be the 'right' one; judging others on a different path.
The yogi(ni) doesn't dwell in right or wrong, the yogi(ni) desires freedom! And aversion strangles freedom as much as attachment. It means checking in with how we feel and using that information to make informed choices in each moment, rather than how we are conditioned to think and act (be that by the latest issue of yoga magazine or our past karma). The power to say yes or no (without having decided which beforehand) is being truly conscious.
This is a delicate path to walk, I like to remember the words of Kashmiri master Swami Lakshmanjoo: 'he who knows he has fallen has not really fallen.'
Keep aware & enquiring ❤️