One intermediate goal of Yoga is to achieve serenity. The path to serenity is through the removal of desires. We often think that happiness comes through fulfilling our desires; getting what we want. Yoga teaches us the opposite. That happiness (or, more accurately, Serenity/Peace) comes by gradually removing the desires instead of fulfilling them.
Slaves To the Outcome
When our desires are fulfilled we feel great happiness. When they are foiled we feel sadness, defeat, anger, betrayal and insecurity. The great discrepancy between this happiness and defeat becomes the antithesis of serenity. We are high or low.
Also, when we pursue the fulfillment of our desires, our actions become subordinate to the hoped-for goal and they cease to be for their own sake. We remove ourselves from the present moment, even the present action and proceed in the hope that we are affecting the future.
They Gradually Melt Away
Yoga teaches us that Serenity comes by removing our desires. We are freed from the cycle of ups-and-downs of success and failure. Our actions become present and not tied to a fantasy future outcome.
"Removing our desires" can be easy to misunderstand. We may think that it means we have to restrain ourselves, discipline ourselves, and force ourselves to not want things. But this is contrary to the teaching because it too becomes a "desire" to fulfill. The removal of desires happens gradually over time as a process of realization. When we are mindful we begin to see how our actions and desires are affecting us.
Desire-focused living tends to create stress, poor sleep and reactionary soothing actions like consumption (overeating, sugar and alcohol) and distraction (restlessness, television and conversation).
When our desires are gone our lives become calm, generous and perceptive. We see our actions and those of others as they truly are, so we can begin to act rightly with real understanding of our impact.
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga