by columnist Gabrielle Harris, The Suburban Yogini
My freefall descent happened 6 months ago.
It wasn’t gentle zen-like parachute descent, but the type of ungraceful fall where not only was I kicking and screaming, but all the office workers in the building I was sailing by were laughing and poking faces at me. My lesson on non-attachment had publicly arrived.
It happened on my level 3 teacher training.
I had travelled to Australia to be with the teacher I was attached to. He made me believe in myself and my gift of yoga. He made me believe that yoga was my dharma. He helped me do a fall back, and get back up again. The attachment was surgical. I loved him.
So I left my family went to Aussie and did level 3.
The jump off the 100 story building began after my teaching demo when he pulled my psyche apart and culminated with some words I never want to hear again, ‘your are imbalanced, you are not a godess, you will NEVER teach for me’
Harsh, getting dumped by your guru.
As the dumping was happening I heard the familiar roar of the dark cloud of Avidya coming my way and all its ugly monster friends hustling up for a box seat. Avidya loves a good party.
Here is how the unwanted guests showed up.
Tapas: God it’s hot in here. My lululemon is sticking to me too much, no it’s melting, wait that’s my skin melting, I am the singing detective. What’s that smell, I smell burning, smoke, it’s coming from my brain, my brain is about to implode through my third eye. This is most unfortunate.
Asmita: I’m cool, everything’s cool. I’m a yoga teacher and student, I can handle this. I’m cool. Guru not so cool though, slightly deranged, probably the effect of too much mind-altering tea.
Dvesa: OMG I got to get out of this place. I wonder if there are any open-cast mines around that will take me. I’m never going to do a teacher training again. Too scary. Best stay at home in my lovely bubble.
Abhinvesa: What am I doing here? I’m not a yoga teacher. What was I thinking? Guru hates me. Now I hate me. Terrible waste of money.
Raga: I want coffee. I reject all of this vegetarian bean food.
I became hysterical; my anahata chakra was threatening to burst out of my rib cage and to cut it short, I wanted to give up yoga. I wanted to get off this yoga camp so I ran for the hills like Forest Gump and I didn’t stop for months.
Attachment (Raga) is one of the Kleshas of yoga as outlined by Patanjali. A Klesha is a cause of suffering. Raga translates as an attraction or attachment to impermanent things. We are attached to all manner of things, people, animals, possessions, ideas about ourselves and others, fantasises of the future, memories of the past.
We are genetically hardwired to be interested and attached to the outcome of our pursuits. We seek praise for a job well done, we want to win the human race, and we want recognition. We are attached to all manner of objects, shopping being the no.1 pastime. I have one friend who confided in me he wasn’t happy in his relationship. When I asked him why he stayed his reply was ‘because I wouldn’t know what to do with all my stuff.’
This fear-based attachment is common to many people. I need to hang on to something just in case, or I need to buy more just in case. I have even been subject to it. After watching the film Contagion I went out and bought $450 worth of groceries, just in case. Now I have 6 boxes of Weetbix fast approaching their use-by-date.
We are attached to future and past memories. We want to hang on to ideas of the past that were of comfort to us, or the idea that everything will be better when …….(fill in own sentence).
We are attached to our youth or beauty. We want to remain attractive and young. We have affairs. We hang our worth on the way others view us, what car we drive, what job we have. We guard what we want and reject that which causes us fear of pain.
The stronger your emotions or reaction when one of our attachments is threatened then the stronger the attachment and therefore the problem. The more we defend our attachments also is an indicator we have entered into a personal blindspot. Sometimes we are not even aware of the extent of our attachment until the source of it is removed.
My reaction to the Guru dumping was so disproportionate to the event, I knew I had a problem. I have spent all my life carefully maintaining a nice airy Aquarian distance from everyone, just in case, and then whoops one slipped by through the barrier and look what happened.
We only operate from two modes, fear or love. Attachment is fear based. Fear that you will/won’t be/have something unless you have the thing you are attached to. Loving without attachment is freedom.
In The Book of Awakenings Mark Nepo says that you can’t go through the door until you put down what you are carrying. When you untie what binds you then you have the freedom to search new paths and grow.
When we view life as happening for us instead of to us, like I should have done at the grand dumping, I would have realised that there is a reason for everything. And the beautiful thing is this; when I put down what I was carrying I was greeted with a new teacher and a new way of viewing the world.
Six months later my divorce became official. I got to keep my yoga practice, he got to keep his adoring fans. There are times in those last six months where I have rehased every detail of the event, and times when I wanted to reach out and say love me again. Those are the hardest. But my message to you is simple, if you don’t let go you can’t grow. I wish you well with your practice.
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