Years ago, yoga was a way for me to challenge my body to be strong, balanced, and flexible. I would go to my studio and, for lack of a better phrase, “work hard.” Invariably, I’d sweat, I’d try to do “better” than last time, and I’d go home in the afterglow of a successful workout.
My ideas about yoga have changed, most pointedly thanks to my early morning Ashtanga practice. What had been a physical endeavor five years ago has transformed into a mental training. Spending an hour and a half–six days a week–concentrating on my breathing through each pose and every movement has led to an abandonment of concern over my initial goals of being “strong, balanced, and flexible.” I have let those go.
I have released my grip, aka my attachment, to reaching particular goals and replaced that with an openmindedness focused solely on consistently showing up and practicing. And despite my shift in perspective, my body continues to become stronger, more balanced, and more flexible. My physical “accomplishments” still occur regardless of my thinking of them.
After seven long months of near daily practice, I have come to know conclude that this slow evolution isn’t just about my yoga practice, it is about everything.
Becoming “attached” to how life should unfold results in a series of perennial disappointments. Nothing really happens in the manner in which we imagine. We simply cannot control all the variables that affect outcome.
While most folks would agree with these self-evident conclusions, few will adopt them as truth and let go of the underlying hubris which leads one to believe that she can control her life. (Alternative words to “life:” spouse, children, friends, employer, stranger at the intersection, commentators on social media, etc.)
Recently, I have been “suffering.” The root of this “suffering” is directly related to the attachments that I have formed. These attachments have done me no good. I have been feeling disappointed, saddened, downheartened, none of which are “good.”
I know that my reactions are based in my own foolishness in having formed the attachment (an idea on how something would/should happen) in the first place. The only way to release my grip is to trust that my worry (or concern, or obsession, or single-minded focus) will have no bearing on the outcome (aka, the future) but will detrimentally affect my health, well being, openheartedness (aka, my ability to be living in the present).
Releasing that mental grip is no easy task, though my practice of yoga is a near daily reminder as to why the efforts to let go of those attachments is worthwhile.
So off I go to be unattached for the next ninety minutes hoping that the reminder will be carried through the other 1,350 minutes of my day.