Guest blog by Yogasteya member Kathrine Conroy
The Buddha taught that there are “three poisons”—three things that are the root causes of suffering.
They are ignorance, attachment, and aversion. Attachment is when we become attached to things in the world, forgetting that everything is temporary. Whether it’s our home, our car or our new Manolo Blahniks, we are all attached to something.
When I first learned about the yamas and niyamas, the ethical rules of yoga philosophy, I was nodding in agreement until we got to aparigraha, or “non-grasping.”
This is the idea of practicing detachment. My Western-educated brain just didn’t understand why attachment is regarded as a bad thing. How could loving something be bad? The short answer is that this attachment can cause pain—for example, your dog eats your Manolos.
The opposite of attachment is aversion, avoiding things we think will be unpleasant. We also forget the temporariness of life when we experience aversion—this too shall pass. Sometimes, what we have been avoiding turns out to be not-so-bad. Sometimes, we may even enjoy it.
My parents have never let me forget that, as a small child, they took me to the movie theater to see “Beauty and the Beast.” I threw a tantrum, insisting that I did not want to see the movie, but by the end I was mesmerized. To this day, it’s one of my favorite Disney movies.
Attachment isn’t meant to apply only to material things like cars and shoes. As Valentine’s Day approaches, many of us have love on our minds. Whether it is children, parents, best friends or a significant other, we all have a few people we love more than anyone else.
In February, we celebrate Valentine’s Day to honor these people. We buy cards, gifts, etc. to let these people know they are our “Valentine” and we love them more than anyone else.
When we practice aparigraha, “[W]e see everything–whether it be pebbles, stones or gold–as the same.” Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6 verse 8, and “[a] person is said to be still further advanced when he regards all–the honest well-wisher, friends and enemies, the envious, the pious, the sinner and those who are indifferent and impartial–with an equal mind.” Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6 verse 9.
Transcending the temporariness of life and regarding all with an equal mind is hard—it is an ideal. We must be reminded that when we link our happiness to something temporary, we are bound to be hurt and disappointed. The leaders of many religions do not marry for this reason. However, most of us are not monks, so we are attached to people.
A certain level of attachment to people is normal, even healthy. So, rather than detach, let’s be mindful that life is only temporary. We should make the people we love know our love and feel it while we are here. We should let them know we love them more than anyone else, on Valentine’s Day and every other day.
Love makes life worthwhile. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Kathrine turned to yoga to deal with the stress related to higher education and completed her 200 hour training during her last year of law school. She is a firm believer in the healing power of yoga, having experienced it for herself…Now if only she could convince her husband. Kathrine and her amazing husband live in Orlando, Florida. Join Kathrine on Facebook to learn more about her unique yoga journey!