The Last Yama --- Non-Attachment
In April, I had to have an ovarian cyst removed. It was laparoscopic surgery and I was supposed to be back to normal activities after a few days. I was not back to normal. It took some time and effort to convince my doctor that something wasn’t right, but eventually I got the hernia diagnosis I had anticipated, and on May 28th, I will have surgery to repair it.
This word, detachment, leads to my topic du jour. Usually referred to as non-attachment, Aparigraha is the last yama or moral guideline outlined in Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. The other yamas are Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), and Brahmacharya (moderation). I use the word detachment because I find something compelling about the active form of this word rather than the passive “non-attachment.” I’m sure that says something about me, but that is not today’s rabbit hole.
In January, I usually choose a word of the year to underline or focus my intentions. I chose the word detachment after the upheaval and enforced adaptability of 2020. Clearly I knew what I was doing when I chose that word. I have continued to learn more about teaching online. I have regrouped and switched from rarely demonstrating when teaching in person, to demonstrating all the time online, to not demonstrating at all as I recovered from the last surgery, to easing back into demonstrating this past week, to getting ready to teach solely with verbal instructions again after another surgery.
No one wants to return to surgery so soon. No one wants to shift their methods back and forth numerous times over a period of weeks. And now we can also add the gradual shift from online classes back to in-person classes. This shift off of Zoom is happening at widely different times (and in some cases not happening at all). I hear myself responding to questions about in-person classes from students, some of whom want online options still and some of whom have been itching to get back to in-person for months. I am breathing in and out and letting go some more, and it feels like a continuation of what I’ve been doing for over a year now, what we’ve all been doing for over a year now.
Letting go of how things were, adapting to the latest plot twist. I know I am not alone. I watch my family working through these changes, and my friends and acquaintances. Even though I am relatively healthy and sane, I am generally worn out. I recently read an article in the NY Times on languishing, a mental state between depressed and thriving. The author noted that a large portion of the population is currently inhabiting this space. If this resonates with you, I see you. And if you can manage a bit of detachment as your world remains unsteady, I am doing the same. Cheers to all of us as we navigate Aparigraha, as we practice non-attachment or detachment or whatever word you choose to describe how you are managing.
Now, take a breath and let it go.
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Deep, and not so deep, thoughts on bodies, movement, yoga, art, shoes, parenting, dogs. You know, life.