Practice and Detachment

"The mind is restless, unsteady, turbulent, wild, stubborn; truly, it seems to me as hard to master as the wind." Arjuna says to Krishna. Krishna replies, "You are right, Arjuna, the mind is restless and hard to master; but by constant practice and detachment it can be mastered in the end. Yoga is indeed hard for those who lack self-restraint: but if you keep striving earnesly, in the right way, you can reach it. ---- Bhagavad Gita

YS 1.12 Abyhasa constant practice and Vairagya detachment are offered by Patanjali as the means to quiet the mind and restrain the vrittis.  Where abyhasa provides a positive means to build up a practice, vairagya is considered to be the negative that balances the positive. Practice is the steadfast effort to still the fluctuations and detachment is thoughtful control of desires that may intefere with the progression of practice. They balance one another just as the sun and moon, the inhalation and exhalation and night and day. 

This is also a very popular approach used by holistic practitioners for treatment. While appropriate treatment for the current complaint is prescribed, also measures that strengthen resistance to future occurrences are suggested. As the effort to build up practices that bring about steadiness of the mind, we then detach from habits or desires that stand in the way and cause unsteadiness. 

How should we practice? Patanjali makes this very clear in sutra 1.14. Long, uninterrupted, alert practice is the firm foundation for restraining the fluctuations.  Without devotion, constant weeding, and pest control a beautiful garden can decline quickly. Just as the stream of citta (thoughts waves) can flow two ways: towards upliftment or toward its downfall. Constant attention to citta consciousness is neccessary. 

But what should we practice? Practice is the path of evolution: and detachment is the path of involution. Evolutionary practices are found in the first four of the eight limbs of yoga; yama, niyama, asana, pranayama. The involutionary path of detachment involves the last four of the eight limbs; pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. 

Practioners of yoga are familiar with asana (physical postures) and pranayama (control of the breath). To be adept in yoga, yama and niyama must be observed carefully throughout the yoga practice abyhasa. Discarding of ideas and actions which obstruct that progress is detachment vairagya

Yamas moral injunctions  -

ahimsa non-violence, satya truthfulness, asteya non stealing, brahmacarya celibacy, aparigraha non coveting

Niyamas fixed observances -

sauca cleanliness, santosa contentment, tapas self discipline, svadhyaya study, Isvara pranidanani devotion to higher self