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The flip side of attachment – dvesha: YSP 2.8

2.8 dukha anushayi dvesha

Bouanchaud: Aversion is the consequence of displeasure.

Desikachar: Unreasonable dislikes are usually the result of painful experiences in the past connected with particular objects and situations.

Swami J: Aversion (dvesha) is a modification that results from misery associated with some memory, whereby the three modifications of aversion, pain, and the memory of the object or experience are then associated with one another.

Last week, we looked at attachment – that basic human response to hold onto or to repeat the things we find pleasurable. Dvesha, sometimes translated as repulsion or aversion, is the other side of that coin. We tend to avoid repeating those things we find unpleasant. This one is confronted all the time in postural practice. We have postures we love and postures we hate. The bad news is that it’s the postures we hate are usually the ones we need the most.

I’m currently embroiled in a hate-repulsion-would you just go away relationship with Danadasana – the staff posture. It looks like nothing but given how much strength I’ve lost in my thoracic spine over the past year, it’s just an out and out unpleasant experience to sit in it for any length of time – length of time being defined as more than 3 breaths. If I lived to be 1000 years old and never had to do another moment in Danadasana, it would suit me just fine.

You all know how this is going to end – not well. The reason I hate Danadasana so much is because I’ve allowed myself to collapse through the mid-thoracic spine. I’ve developed quite the slump over the past year. Shoulders rolled slightly forward and in, head off balance and jutting forward, rounded slightly stooped spine. This posture isn’t good for anyone. For someone with a diagnosed heart condition, this posture is dangerous. The collapse through my mind-spine compresses my heart and lungs. My heart is congested enough without reducing the physical volume of my thorax on top of everything.

My intense dislike of the posture is actually a sign that I need to be doing it more often. My teacher has me on a weekly schedule of it for the next while. When will I know I’ve got the issue sorted? I’ll know when I stop hating it.

Last week, we talked about attraction and how it is part of the addiction process. Dvesha also falls into the cycle. Long after the pleasure aspects of drug abuse have faded – also known as habituation – many people keep using because it’s painful to stop. I probably smoked for 5-8 years after I stopped enjoying cigarettes. It was just too painful and unpleasant to go through withdrawal, so I kept lighting up. Now as every ex-smoker already knows, there’s more than just the nicotine withdrawal (which is unpleasant enough), there’s also the psychological withdrawal of our all-purpose ‘cope mechanism’.

Dvesha colours a lot of our perceptions. Hate, that global toxin of our political and social life, is an extreme and active form of dvesha. In my notes from this summer, I have the comment “it’s always a problem with vairagya (detachment)”. I think there’s some truth to that. We hate/dislike/repulse the things we can’t let go of. These are things that are stuck to us like burdocks to wool socks. If we could let go of them, there would be no need to use the energy needed to hate. We’d simple let go.

The cure, of course, is to do simply that – to let go, to release. There should be a big gaudy flashing neon sign hung on the wall of every yoga practice space that says “LET GO” – whatever the hell it is, just let go. That would probably put 95% of yoga teachers, me included, out of work.

Thanks for reading and Namaste,



About Kate MacKay

I'm a certified Viniyoga teacher, in Fredericton, NB. I was a 9-1-1 operator and emergency services dispatcher for 22 years. Surprisingly, the two worked well together, or as I liked to put it, from the sublime to the ridiculous -- all in a day's work. I'm currently off work as a result of a stress-induced cardiac condition that's thrown a few crimps in my lifestyle. I'm not actively teaching yoga in the classroom right now and probably won't for several more months. That said, this blog is one of the forms of practice I can do and I thank you for joining me in this exploration of all things yoga.

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