by Sandra Bark
Attachment is not a simple thing to untangle. How could it be? The filaments of attachment are sticky; addiction is addictive. Our habits are worn-in, soft and cozy, as easy to slip into as our oldest pair of jeans.
Are you organic, vegan, vegetarian, kosher, free range, gluten-free, local? Blackberry or iPhone or Android? Mac or PC?
We live on a planet that applauds our preferences and aversions, in a brand-happy country that encourages us view to our external fixations as definitions of who we are, inside. Our attachments have become more than diversions. They are definitions. They are destiny.
Tell me what you like, tell me what you dislike, and I will tell you who you are.
Our society rotates on an axis of attachment. Favorite vineyard, favorite director, favorite stand at the farmer’s market: in New York City, we are all critics. Disparage a meal and you possess a sophisticated palate; pick apart a plot and you’ve got a discerning mind.
Do you drink coffee? What kind? Drip, Chemex, cold brewed, Americano, espresso, cappuccino, café au lait, café con leche? Café negro? How about sweetener? You want real sugar? Raw sugar? Brown? Or would you prefer stevia? Or agave? Do you take milk? We got skim, we got 1%, 2%, whole milk, half and half, cream, heavy cream… also soy. And coconut. And almond. Or maybe something else? Would you prefer cashew?
Likes and dislikes are threads of the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we tell other people, the way we understand the stories that they tell us. All of this liking and not liking helps us set ourselves up as distinctive characters in this big, confusing world. But are these attachments and aversions merely descriptions of our preferences? Or are they little jails, keeping us fenced in and stuck while we pretend they keep us safe?
As the tangles of attachment grow increasingly Gordian, how do we slice through the packaging to what is inside?
Ideally, practicing yoga is one way. On the mat, we should just be there, using our bodies, using our breath, focusing our minds, turning down the volume of those insistent, ingrained like/dislike inclinations. Still, we have our favorite yoga pants, our favorite mats, our favorite teachers, our favorite poses.
Except that on the mat, at least, favorite isn’t always best. As Christina says, the poses we like the least are probably the ones we need the most. Tight shoulders twinge in eagle arms–because they need it. Cranky hips cry out in pigeon–because they need it. If you only do the poses you like, you might be missing the real benefits of the practice.
Until we cut the cords of attachment, we’ll never be truly free. Just gluten-free.
And that isn’t free enough.