Tag Archive for: attachment

Denver’s Axis Yoga teacher training asks students to apply one of the yama’s – or yogic principles – to their lives. This student examines how her attachments to not only material items, but also to people and emotions, effect her. She finds that letting go of physical possessions is one thing, but letting go of emotional attachment to people is far more challenging.

I fought this experiment every inch of the way, whining like a child who doesn’t want to eat her vegetables even though it is good for her. I started thinking about aparigraha and to be quite honest I was a little smug because I had started practicing this yama a few years ago without even realizing it. I had cleaned out my closet, getting rid of things that I didn’t need and have worked on releasing myself from the ideas that I held onto so tightly. I opened my mind and life up to new ideas, which helped me to accept that my old way of thinking wasn’t very healthy for me. Christianity wasn’t benefiting me one bit, it actually made me very discontent. I found Baba Hari Dass’s observation of the three primary expressions of discontentment to resonate with me. I felt anger, deceit, covetousness, jealousy, hate, pride, lust and gluttony because of my attachment to people, things, and ideas (Silence Speaks,122).

One day I decided I didn’t want to feel those things anymore, and I knew what I had been doing for the last couple decades wasn’t working so I read Eckhart Tolle’s book “Awakening to your life’s purpose”. I felt awkward and embarrassed purchasing the book; it was like painting a big scarlet letter on my shirt saying I was a failure or a mental case. I was now reading a self-help book, utter shame enveloped my psyche but then I started reading his book and it made sense to me. My first hurdle was successful and I was excited to learn more about bettering myself. My new view on life was if you want peace, you have to start with yourself. So I tried to break the vicious circles I had created in my life and I struggled with that immensely. However, I found when I went to a yoga class I was more apt to feel more peaceful and project more peace in my actions, so I went every chance I was able.

Attachment to people has also made me a prideful person and perhaps fearful in some respects. I concern myself with their well being and don’t want to let them down. I make sure I don’t disappoint them by showing up for them even if it disrupts my own life or isn’t in my best interest. They want me there, I show up. I am reliable and I take great pride in it. I know that sometimes people take advantage of that but I am okay with it because I want to be there for them and it feels like a selfless act, which I suppose makes me feel good about myself. Okay, so it’s probably not a good thing. I suppose I will have to learn how to say no to people, I think that will be a really freeing thing to learn how to do. However, I think I will have to start out really small. I think it will be difficult because I have been the ‘yes’ girl for so long.

I realize now why I didn’t want to start this experiment, I have so many things I need to work on. Even though I don’t have many physical or material attachments any longer, I have a plethora of other attachments I need to work on. However, by becoming aware of them, I am more able to release myself from those attachments. This experiment was incredibly helpful and I will use it as motivation to begin learning how I can become less attached to people

When the task came to choose a yama with which to experiment, I was certain that Aparigraha was the right one for me. Over the past six months I have been working weekly with a therapist on overcoming many of my attachments to unhealthy parts of my past. Because breakthroughs in therapy have come in small increments, I saw the potential for greater growth if I was to combined a yogic philosophy of non-grasping, non-possessiveness, or non-attachment with a more western psychological approach to the same topic.  Thus, my question became: If I incorporate Aparigraha in my life will it complement or speed up the progress that I am attempting to make in therapy to overcome unhealthy attachments? Believing strongly that the answer to this question would be yes, my hypothesis was: By combining Aparigraha with my weekly therapy sessions aiming at the same outcome, I will usher in change with greater ease and speed than just using therapy to achieve the goal of non-attachment.