When I first dove into the principles of yoga, the concept of non-attachment, vairagya, hit me at my core. It was so clear and made absolute sense: if I do not attach, then I cannot be disappointed, and if I cannot be disappointed, then I cannot get hurt.
According to the sutras, becoming attached to things, people and outcomes ultimately causes us agony. Attachment manifests itself in our possessions, our relationships, aspirations, career, and the visions we hold for the future, both near and far. We grasp and hold on so tightly that when we loose these things, when they are taken away, we find ourselves distraught, often in intense pain. As the saying goes “things are as they are, we suffer because we imagined different.”
The sutras teach if we do not attach, opportunities for pain are mediated.
Conceptually, it seems clear. But what is conceptually clear and how reality plays out are wholly different.
I’ve been exploring this concept for nearly two years, and I still have an abundance of attachments, more than I would like to admit. However, each time I play with putting vairagya into practice, it’s not only as if I mediate some of the pain, but it’s as if the world opens up…
When I first considered non-attachment, it was abundantly clear I was attached everywhere. So I started to look where it might be helpful to ‘detach.’ At the time, I had developed quite an interest in a strong, quieter gentleman. His eyes shone, and his heart was kind. He genuinely cared about the people around him, had a great sense of humor and was invested in whatever it was that he was doing. The interest seemed mutual; he consistently reached out, however something was missing. I knew I was attaching to the idea of something and the idea of “that perfect someone,” and he (as embarrassing as it is to write) happened to tick so many boxes. What he later let me in on was that while he adored me as a person, he wasn’t attracted to women. I had wrapped myself in an idea, in a person, that alongside the disappointment, I missed out on something greater: an amazing friendship.
I honestly believe that life often offers us gems, offers us beautiful experiences, but we get so wrapped up in the idea of how something should be, or who someone should be for us (boyfriend SHOULD be husband) that we miss out on a bigger picture and we miss the beauty.
Attachment manifests itself in multiple forms and the result is not always merely disappointment. Whether it be a relationship, a job, an idea or a day, when it is forced from an attachment, it never fills us in the way we hope or desire. Often, we are left feeling empty.
Each time I feel an intense struggle within, each time there is a lack of flow, I try to find where I am attaching. Some things are easier to let go than others, but when I do, what presents itself on the other side is often more beautiful than what I can ever imagine.
What about you? Think back to one of your best days. How often were you attached or had an expectation on how it should go?
For me, my best days are the unexpected ones. The ones without expectations.
So in your life, on or off the mat, can you play with no expectations? No attachment to how your body should be, how a class should go or how a day should unfold. Can you be curious and open to what unfolds and what treasures present themselves that you might have otherwise missed?
Walt Whitman said, “be curious, not judgmental.” So without judgment, with pure curiosity, what and were might you detach? Would love to hear what opens up for you.
With love and light,
Rachel (subscribe below to receive these in your inbox weekly!)
P.S. Permission was obtained to share the story as it is not just "my story" but involves another xx.