The most difficult posture in yoga
is the ever-changing posture of daily life.
"Lady cleaning Rice"
by Pieter Weltevrede
(Click the picture for a larger image)
We can be slaves of our Rasas or not. We have every right to be happy whatever happens and can develop the power to exercise that right.
Rasa Sadhana includes fasting from or on specific emotions. We usually first promise ourself that for a day or a week or longer we will not get involved with one of the less desirable Rasas, such as Anger, Fear, Sadness, or Disgust. When the emotion surfaces it will not be suppressed, but properly analyzed through our knowledge of the origin of the Rasa; that alone will render it largely powerless. With the aid of some specific techniques that often involve the body, the energy of the Rasa can be more fully dissolved. The promise made in the Sadhana will provide us with the will power to do so in any case, because to fail means to hurt the ego and when the ego gets involved the Rasa stands no chance.
For example, take the Anger Rasa. Anger is always based on some unfulfilled expectation. If we stop expecting things from others, then there is no more need for anger. When we realize that one minute of anger can kill the peace obtained through a long period of meditation, then we understand that getting angry turns a little problem into a really big one. If we stop getting irritated about other people's errors, we refrain from turning their problem into our own problem. It is another way of not letting them "win the fight". To refrain from Anger does not makes us defenseless neither. We are still able to communicate our position and may quite clearly show them that their incorrect behaviour may have consequences - that is called non-violent resistance. To do so in a calm manner may be a lot more convincing than an emotion-based threat. To reduce the Anger Rasa, literally cooling down our biochemistry can be a great help. And our Anger Rasa can also be countered by one of the enemy Rasas Humor, Love and Wonder. Especially Humor works miracles against angry thoughts, because it is also based on the Fire dosha.
When the less desirable Rasas have thus been brought under control, we can start fasting on the desirable Rasas, such as Peace, Love, Joy, Wonder, and Courage - staying in one of these moods for a particular time. Any Rasa Sadhana can also be adopted for a really long period or even for a lifetime.
Rasa Sadhana originated in the time before Hindu yogis started organizing themselves into more institutionalized akaras (schools) and ashrams (communities). Before that time, spiritual teaching happened in the gurukula, the family home of the teacher. These teachers were usually married and had children, so the teaching that took place connected directly to normal life.
Rasa Sadhana offers the householder an alternative spiritual path, which includes the Peace Rasa, but also teaches us how to find happiness and spiritual growth in the other Rasas. This Rasa fasting does not require stepping outside of social life, nor does it require any extra time investment. If we can remain free from disturbing emotions during the day, then the meditation that we are able to do will be much more fruitful. Prolonged Rasa Sadhana also brings certain special powers called siddhi's.
Depending on our biochemistry, personal preferences, and temporary problems or opportunities, we may choose which Rasa to exercise. It is important to clearly establish the rules of a particular sadhana, because otherwise the sadhana can be very destructive to one's self-confidence. It is advisable to keep it short in the beginning and gradually increase the duration.
Mastering our thoughts is a lot more difficult than mastering our words and actions. One may limit a sadhana to words and actions to begin with. But the Rasa will never be mastered if our thoughts are not mastered and it is often easier to attack the Rasa at the root, the original thought.
Rasa Sadhana is not about suppressing emotions! Negative thoughts and emotions must be allowed sufficient expression for their origin to be properly analyzed. It is most of all this very analysis, which emphasizes the witnessing factor, that will dissolve any disagreable Rasa.
The above texts were extracted from the book "The Yoga of the Nine Emotions", which fully explains these subjects.