As humans we come with no attachments. The soul enters the body, the spirit starts it’s current journey. Eyes wide open, innocent and free. As soon as we arrive though, we start to grow the myriads of connections based on our impressions. First to our parents, siblings, our body, our feelings. We learn, condition and get conditioned. Good, bad. Cold, warm. Reward, Punishment. This is the nature of duality, and duality is the nature on planet Earth.
Our brain learns it’s way around in this arena, starts to analyze and sort, label and sticker. This is the job of the brain and it’s designed to protect us, to ensure our survival. Strangely however, it is also the reason behind all of our suffering, as we learn almost immediately when we step on our Yoga mat or sit down to meditate.
This is how this labelling function manifests in a Yoga class: “ It’s too warm here. It’s too cold. This class is too fast. Too slow. I need a better yoga mat. I don’t like yoga mats. I like this teacher. I hate this teacher. This is a good Yoga pose. That is a bad Yoga pose.” Some people set their mats to the exact same spot in the room for every class, and God forbid someone else gets there first, they are in immediate distress. Some people have to wear the same outfit every time. Or a mala. Drink water at the same time. Sing Ohm 3 times! No! just once! Repeat the same mantra… posture… direction….
you get it.
Attachments lead to judgement, judgement lead to reaction. Our reactions are usually either flight (leaving) or fight (internal turmoil). In one word we could call this result: stress.
Once I heard a sweet story of an ashram in India. The Guru had a cat. A sweet, affectionate cat. Every time the disciples sat down to meditate, this cat rubbed herself to them, looking for affection. This was distracting of course. After many complaints the guru finally told them to take a rope and tie the cat to a tree while they meditate. They did that. They always started the meditation by first tying the cat to the tree. This became a habit. Many years followed, new students came and they observed this habit. They knew nothing about it’s origin, but believed it was important, in fact the word spread and now this branch of Yoga is famous for a cat being tied to a tree every time a disciple tries to practice.
If I sit with this funny story for a second, I might even see the birth of different religions of the world. Again: attachment leads to judgement, judgement leads to reaction. In the world of religion, this led to many wars and suffering in history, demonstrating so well, the danger of attachment.
Now. Identifying a problem without offering a solution is nothing but whining. As a beginner practitioner many years ago I also went through (and still practicing daily) the mission of letting go of attachments. I heard the word “detachment” for many years. Trust me, I tried. To me, there was something distant, cold, non-human about this word. How can I get de-touched? I don’t want to lose my connections, the spice of my life, the very thing that makes life worth living!
Let me share what helped me tremendously. I found my practice of non-attachment in another old story:
Once a powerful king went to see the wise Brahmin. He said to him: Oh wise teacher! My life is full of comfort, my servants seek to fulfill all my wishes. I’m rich and powerful but I can not find happiness. The problems of my kingdom lay heavy on my chest. The issues of my people are my issues. I cannot sleep at night, can not eat for days sometimes. Please! Give me advice! I seek one simple cure for all my problems and my people’s problems.
After a little meditation the Brahmin gave him a ring. On that ring were carved these words: “This too shall pass” "-Touch this ring every time when you are in distress. Practice this mantra daily and your mind will settle." - he said.
Many years ago I got myself an imaginary ring like that. I touch it in my mind at the sweetest moments of my life, (cuddling on the couch with my man, running my fingers through the fur of my dog, watching the sun rise over the ocean) and this mantra helps me appreciate these moments a 100 times more. This too shall pass. I repeat it when I’m surprised. I hear news that used to shock me or excite me. Especially when things are hard, or just not according to my liking. …. this too shall pass..
No, I’m not detached. I’m non-attached at those moments. Very present, but not reactive. This practice is providing me with moments of being the most alive I have ever been.
Of course, my Yoga (asana) practice became less “stressful” as well. The heat, cold, mat, water, neighbour, teacher, can not steal my peace. Yoga. The path to liberation.
On this journey I am with you and therefore I am grateful.
Campbell River, BC
“I believe in our ability to live an amazing life. Our choices shape our schedule, our body, our destiny. Choose well and enjoy the ride. "