To be Attached, or Unattached?

After a nice, not long enough yet still much-needed trip to D.C. for a wedding, I’m back!  Today I want to talk about attachment.

On the first day of teacher training, we briefly went over everything we’re going to learn. Guru Kelly said something about how we can’t talk about yoga without talking about religion, which in general makes sense, but I wasn’t completely sure why. We’ve had to read a couple of books and just now I’m starting to understand.

Most of us in the western world, in the States especially, use yoga as simply a form of exercise. You get a good stretch, work on your core, your balance, and usually leave feeling pretty wonderfully relaxed. But that’s not really what Yoga is, it’s just one part.

From my understanding, Yoga is a pathway to Samadhi, also known as Nirvana, enlightenment, or simply a higher state of being. It is a way to get to god, what-(or who)-ever you consider god to be.

A big part of this is un-attachment, it is letting go. In the extreme, so much so that you give up your friends, your family, and any and all of your relationships.

One woman in class told us a story of how a man was on his way to enlightenment when his mother came to see him. He’d left his family to practice at an ashram in order to reach Samadhi. When she came to him, he welcomed her as he would any other visitor. She said to him, “My boy! I miss you, come home. Don’t you recognize your mother?” He said he did not. He had given up his family, his relationships, in order to find happiness and fulfillment.

This is something I’ve struggled with. I’ve been a follower of yoga for years, practicing on and off, learning what I could, but I could never wrap my head around this un-attachment thing.

I thought nirvana was the goal, as it sounds so serene and ideal. I’ve had a pretty privileged life, but that being said I’ve also had my fair share of shit. Anxiety, depression, mental struggles, through it all, all I wanted, all I want, is to find peace and happiness.

The yogic way seemed doable, but I could never really wrap my head around un-attachment. I like stuff. My travels were the start of this un-attachment journey. In 2014 I left to spend a year in New Zealand with three giant bags. A year later, I left New Zealand to travel Australia for a year with just one and a backpack.

 Stuff is just that, it’s stuff, it’s shit we use to fill our lives and make them slightly easier, but the stuff isn’t necessary. We’re reliant, almost dependent, on our stuff. When we lose something important to us it brings us such sorrow, but it’s just stuff. You can replace stuff.

My ex was big on this. He had no problem selling his things, leaving stuff behind at old houses to move on and do some cool things. He was ALL about un-attachment, so much so that he would never marry. Of course, there’s always more to the story, but for the purposes of this blog we’ll keep it basic.

I, on the other hand, strongly disagree with this yogic point. I’m all about being unattached to things, even diamonds and rings and electronics, but I firmly believe in relational-attachment. This is something I’ve just come around to and I believe it’s the reason for my confusion in the un-attachment thing. But now, science is here to back me up.

There was a 75-year Harvard study that proved what makes us happier. Wanna know the secret? It’s relationships. Strong connections and relationships with other people are what make us happiest.

The wedding I went to this weekend really proved that to me. I’ve been living in Florida for almost a year now, but I have no one I can call a friend. No one I can grab coffee with, or go shopping, or to the movies. The good thing about this, because there’s always a silver lining, is that my relationship with my family has exponentially strengthened.

 And when I went to D.C. and got to hang out with my friends for the first time in over a year, it was so amazingly lovely. I had such a wonderful time catching up with everyone and just really enjoying reconnecting with old friends. It was the happiest I’ve been in quite a long time.

 Where do you stand on attachment and un-attachment? Do you agree with the sciences and I, that strong relationships are what make us happiest? Or are you more like my ex and the yogic path where un-attachment is where it’s at? Leave a comment, let’s start a conversation.

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