Aparigraha: The Art of Non-attachment

* Reprinted with permission from the Boozy Gardener. Originally published August 2019.

As loyal readers know, I completed yoga teacher training this past weekend, which is one of the reasons Boozy Gardener blog posts have been light this summer.

No matter the physical and mental costs, YTT was the best commitment I have ever made. In the coming weeks, I will discuss my experience and upcoming plans, but I wanted my first post as an official teacher to set the stage for my future endeavors.

The yama (or ethical code) I struggle most with on the yogic path is aparigraha, or non-attachment. As many of my friends could tell you, I have no difficulty remaining non-attached to material objects, but I have a much more difficult time disconnecting from desired outcomes.

Whenever I set out on a new path, I imagine how wonderful life will be when I've reached my goal. I will no longer worry about love or money. A choir of angels will follow me and sing of my perfection. Amanda Shires will be my new best friend.

You get the idea.

Of course, reality is always different. No matter the goal, our lives will not go from flawed to perfect. Life is a struggle. It is supposed to be difficult. There are no cheat codes for the human existence.

That does not mean we should say to heck with it all, quit our jobs and move into caves until we inevitably starve to death. Nor does it mean we should stop striving. What it means is that we should put in the work towards our goals, set a strong foundation and then let go of an idealized future. We must trust that whatever happens is exactly what was supposed to happen.

I love this illustration from Deborah Adele's book, The Yamas & Niyamas. She writes: "... the trapeze artist has a moment when they are suspended in mid-air... they have to let go of one bar and wait in mid-air for the next swinging bar to reach them. If they hold on to the current bar, or reach for the next bar, their timing will be off and they will fall. Instead, they must let go fully to be ready for the bar swinging towards them, trusting the timing of the swing and not their own effort to reach."

Can you even imagine the cajones it takes to do that?

The truth is, you do not have to imagine. You are already doing it.

Every time you exhale, your body has faith that the next inhale will come. As any child can tell you, if you think about your breath, it becomes impossible to breathe. You need to let go and let it happen.

My challenge (and I suspect yours as well) is to set the foundation and then trust the universe will send you what you need.

Today, instead of stressing about some future event, or daydreaming about how wonderful the future will be, ask yourself if there is some concrete step you should be taking to create a better future. If there is not, take a deep breath and return to the present.

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