Earlier this week our garden shed blew away in a storm.
Last week I left my yoga mat behind in the community centre and didn’t realise for two days.
“The wise are so totally detached,
Pain is for those who are attached.”
I’ve been playing around with the spiritual teaching of non-attachment or if you like, detachment. And as these things usually pan out, I’m getting to experience my attachments in full, vibrant technicolour and turned up a notch or ten.
I’ll admit from the outset, I find the idea of detachment being a key pathway to spiritual awakening and a blissful existence pretty confronting. I feel strong resistance to the idea that letting go of my attachment to people, things, beliefs, knowledge, roles, dreams and goals would pave the way to my enlightenment. And yet another part of me sees that this is true.
We are all so very attached to our children, partners, families, friends, pets, homes and jobs. But then there are also the roles we play; daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, wife, friend, the list goes on.
When you think about it, most of us feel a sense of attachment to pretty much everything we see, wear, touch, use and buy. Do you have a favourite tea cup, chair, lamp, pair of jeans, scarf, book, photo? How do you feel about your mobile phone? And don’t get me started on our warped attachments to our physical appearance.
Heck, I didn’t even realise I was attached to my yoga mat until I didn’t have it. The relief and pleasure I felt when I found it in the yoga room today was sort of funny, sort of childish and sort of odd. It’s a yoga MAT! And attachments can be rather fickle because although losing our garden shed is pretty inconvenient, it hasn’t really bothered me at all because I felt no real attachment to it.
So, this is what I know about attachment:
Attachment is not love. Attachment is mainly about control and the illusion of security. When we are overly attached to anything or anyone, we often fail to truly appreciate the real meaning of that thing or person in our lives. Plus being overly attached to bad or even good memories, spiritual rituals, knowledge, beliefs and concepts of who we think we are, can really slow down or completely stall our spiritual development.
When playing with this idea a few years ago I noticed that when my daughter was throwing a tantrum or crying dramatically over a minor mishap, if I consciously detached myself from her reaction and observed her rather than being immersed in the moment with her, I was able to comfort and calm her down more effectively.
It’s all about creating a sense of space between ourselves and those close to us. They are themselves and we are ourselves. Simple. My daughter was really upset and I was her mother noticing her reaction and allowing her to be in it without feeling I needed to be in it with her.
Holding everything a little more lightly is what is called for here. Playing the observer rather than the judge. Allowing what is unfolding before us to just ‘be’. Letting go of our habits of feeling responsible and needing to rescue, fix or change. Realising we are not defined by our relationships, roles, possessions, dress size or bank balance.
I am not defined by my special purple yoga mat with the lotus flower print. There, I’ve said it.
But I’m still glad I got it back, cause it’s mine and I like it. The journey continues…