“Let go of the fruits” is a significant theme in the Bhagavad Gita, one of the great yoga texts of all time and the current subject of the YR Book Club (via the secondary source The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope). The reader is told “you have the right to work, but never to the fruit of the work.” This refers to the idea of non-attachment. Do the work, but do it for its own sake, not for the outcome. Be “alike in success and defeat” we are told. Talk about easier said than done!
I was talking with my twelve year old daughter yesterday about this idea, as she already has her heart set on an extremely hard-to-get-into university (I swear she came up with this on her own. For “fun,” she wrote her college essay last summer. She’s a funny kid). When I told her she should just worry about doing her best in school, and not worry about the outcome of her efforts, she got upset. It’s a jarring concept for a kid – heck, for any of us. Do your best and it still might not ensure the desired outcome? Absolutely, it’s just the way of the universe.
If we can fully embrace this idea, though (and really, what choice do we have but to embrace it), imagine the sense of freedom. Put forth your best effort, of course. And then let go. The outcome is out of your control. Cope puts this beautifully in his book. “Do your work passionately. Then let go. Now you are free.”
Think about this the next time you are on your mat. Be there to do the work of the asana practice. Period. Enjoy the process. Be committed to it. But try to cultivate a sense of detachment from the result (whether it’s a particular pose, losing some weight, gaining some muscle tone or flexibility). And then notice if your mind feels a little freer.