30 Nov Attachment
I’ve been contemplating attachment this week. There are about one million ways to use this word and they mean a million different things. Here’s the gist of my train of thought…
What is it about attachment?
Attachment to people, to things, to the way relationships should go. Attachment to the way you hold your shoulder blades when you’re “sitting up straight” or the way you deal with stress. Attachment to certain identities, to looking a certain way, to being perceived by others in a certain way.
It’s tiring. It seems to carry with it more effort than is necessary, really.
In this context, attachments have a rigid quality about them. A locking in or a locking down (in an effort to protect against injury, physical and emotional?)
When things don’t go according to plan, when it doesn’t work out, what happens then? Is there more turmoil than there needs to be? What would it be like if there wasn’t the initial attachment to begin with?
As I think this out, I think it would feel like space. Grace. An ability to step back and watch things unfold. A sigh of relief being able to modulate how involved I get because I’m not grasping on to my attachment above all else (which I often do without knowing I’m doing it).
My attachments cause my reactions. So it follows that the more I let go of my attachments, the more space I have to respond, and not just for my own well-being but for the well-being of others.
Less rigidity sounds like more flexibility, and isn’t it nice to have an easy-going friend? I’m certainly not naturally easy-going…this is gonna take practice.
This attachment business is something to reflect on, even though attachments stick around. After all, to be human is to cling to life, and that in itself is quite an attachment. According to the yoga philosophy, it’s the ultimate attachment. One we don’t have a choice whether or not to deal with one day. The Sanskrit word for this “clinging to life” is abhinivesa, and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali tell us that it happens even in the wise.
My personal opinion is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with attachments…even the Sutras don’t cast judgment. These verses just say that if you want to achieve liberation and reside in your own true nature, you’ll eventually work through even the most ultimate of your attachments and you’ll do it using practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment (vairagya). Until then, attachments will be an obstacle to contend with.
Even if you don’t do your yoga to attain ultimate liberation (I’m honestly not sure that’s my aim. After all, I’m clinging to life…but I like to consider the philosophy regardless), it’s useful to contemplate your attachments, and what life might be like without them. I think there’s a lot of freedom to be gained.
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