The Yamas and Niyamas are the “don’ts” and “dos” of the yoga practice, a moral code of ethics which ultimately leads to enlightenment. It is the 5th Yama, non-attachment, that has been on my mind this month. In January we are leaving behind the holiday season in which we focus on the giving and receiving of material things. We are also moving forward into a new year full of expectations and new goals. We want to approach those new goals in a healthy way, with strength from within. To tap into that strength it is beneficial to ‘let go” or detach from the things in our life that we assume hold our happiness.
Material items, loved ones, food, money, and career are all things that we cling to, that we try to possess. Sometimes we even cling to expectations, memories, or beliefs. It is an illusion that by owning these things we can gain happiness. With clinging comes the underlying fear of loss. The fear of loss can make us moody, distracted, jealous, manipulative, and agitated. After all, we are constantly trying to protect what is ours. Who wants to live with that kind of baggage?
In the past, I have struggled with clinging to both my partner and my other career as an actor. Once I realized that I cannot own either one of those things, it felt as if a weight had been lifted. I can love and care for my boyfriend, but he will still live his own life. My happiness does not depend on him. I can still enjoy performing on stage, but the stage will not always be there. My self-worth cannot be found in a performance.
By freeing ourselves of the illusion of ownership we gain a great sense of inner strength and contentment. I challenge you to ask yourself: “What am I attached to?”
When you answer yourself honestly try this meditation:
Sit quietly and comfortably. Close your eyes and start to breathe. Take the first few minutes to imagine the things, feelings, or expectations that you try to possess. See them in your mind’s eye. After you have a clear perception of what those things are try to refocus you’re your mind on your inhales and exhales. Use this mantra as you breathe: “I inhale strength, I exhale to let go.”