Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
1:4 At other times, it appears to assume the forms of the mental modifications
If we are not careful, we start to think that the roles we play, the cars we drive, the people we hang out with, the yoga we practice and other things outside of us, define who we are. The yogi knows that it is all role play. A good actor becomes their character. They feel what they feel. They put themselves in situations that make them understand the charterers life. Many actors lose and gain weight, cut or grow their hair, and immerse themselves in the life of the character in order to really become the character.
When Adrien Brody prepared for his role as a holocaust sufferer in the Pianist, he wanted to connect with a feelings of lose. He sold his car, got rid of his apartment, and didn’t watch television. He lost 31 pounds by eating a daily diet of two boiled eggs and green tea for breakfast, a little chicken for lunch, and a small piece of fish or chicken with steamed vegetables for dinner over a six week period. Information came from here.
When the actor is done playing the part, they can drop it as can the yogi. The ultimate dropping of roles happens at death. However, we can learn how to playfully move through roles while living.
Modern Day Application
The roles we play are important. We need doctors, lawyers, mothers, men, women, yoga teachers etc. Beautiful cars are fun to drive and fancy homes are amazing to live in but they don’t define us. Have fun and enjoy your life. However,as beautiful as your life and the people and things within it are, the real you is still so much bigger. The energy inside us cannot be created or destroyed. It was here before our identification with roles and things and it will be here after those roles and possessions fall away.
Why Is It Important?
When we get caught up in our roles, happiness is elusive. When the roles are taken from us, our happiness is taken from us. The inability to differentiate from the real you and what we have identified with, causes a lot of problems in the world. Identification with skin color causes people to hate. Identification with country causes war. Identification with things and land, caused the genocide of Native Americans. When we realize that we are all made from the same stuff and that that stuff just took a different form, then the identification will stop and so will these tragedies. All beings will have true freedom.