Blog 4: Reflection on Innerworks – Attachments

In one of my conversations with Master Sree, I remembered he looked at me sombrely , and told me that there’s one thing that I would need to be consciously and constantly working on – which is letting go of attachments. I was taken aback, not because of Master Sree’s words, but because it was very true that I am someone who forms deep attachments to many things in life – be it people, places, memories and even to things like food. I have constant bad experiences in trying to let things go and telling myself that it is okay, and instead suppress that pile of negative emotions that accompanied with the action of me forcing myself to be okay that certain things that weren’t meant to be. Similarly to this YTT course, there’s some form of attachment that grew on me over the span of three weeks – the routine of getting up early to the studio, the physical practises, the time spent with my classmates and even the trips to Jalan Besar MRT – I have begun to like this routine and would love it to continue to roll on for a while more. However, it is not realistic to have the YTT continuing for a while longer, and neither is it healthy for me to form such attachments. I too, began to wonder, does it mean that to not be attached to a certain person, place, ideology, it meant that I have to not feel for it? Or do I need to keep my distance away from it, in order to avoid forming attachments? I couldn’t grasp that idea of detachment – it was too abstract and unfamiliar to the point whereby it’s uncomfortable for me to even accept detachment in my daily life. Personally my attachments and associations with things, people, objects  comes with a great deal of emotions, thoughts and even memories – and hence I find it difficult to release these attachments in my life. These attachments are part of my identity, and it’s something I also used to define my self. For the past 2 weeks I often wondered, if I let go of these attachments, then what am I left with, what can I used to define myself and my identity?

When we were learning about Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga – Aparigraha ( in Sanskrit) and when translated it refers to non-greed and non-attachments. This Yama’s teaching emphasised on how one should only take what they need, to retain what serves them at that current movement, and learning to let go at the right time. A quote by Krishna as follows: Let your concern be with the action alone, and never with the fruits of action. Do not let the results of your action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction. Sometime we are often caught up with wanting to achieve the end-results of a certain process, but we too also forgot that the process itself is equally important – and Krishna’s quote reminds us that one should place their focus on the actual process, and not overly-emphasising on the end-results. Personally, this is very applicable for me – as I find myself driven by performance-based results – I need to see actual growth in myself before I am satisfied with the situation that I’m handling with. For example, back in my University days, I find myself being too caught-up with wanting to achieve a certain goal, and sacrificing my own health in the pursuit of results, and I too have forgotten that critical thinking and learning are the processes that I need to be focused on in my studies, and not just the end-results. Even for yoga, I tend to place my focus on the accuracy of the postures, and often forgetting to breathe – which is not what the practise is suppose to be like. With Master’s words and the philosophy learnt in this YTT course, i find myself often reflecting what is important – and subsequently made peace that perhaps it is okay to be not that great in certain poses such as Sirsasana and Chaturanga – the process is something that I need to fully submerge myself in this course, and that the actual learning is my takeaway, not the accuracy of my poses. This gave me the freedom from the constant stress of the need to perform better, which is a new thing for me as I’m always under constant stress from benchmarks and anchor points in life that I set for myself. Master Paalu also showed us a video excerpt from the Avatar: The Last Air Bender. In that clip, it emphasise that letting attachments go do not equate to letting it disappearing from your life, it is just simply accepting the fact that you can’t bring this person or item with you wherever you go – it’s already part of who you are, and we need to understand that when it is time to let go, we do need to let go. It doesn’t dissipate right now, and it won’t be here forever as well. Many attachments are formed out of love and familiarity, and I too have formed such attachments in my life that I find it difficult to let go. So learning to understand what it means to let go is crucial for me, to navigate more upcoming hurdles and obstacles in life – if not these attachments will in turn become my very own obstacle instead.

As I read up more on Aparigraha – I realise there’s a need to integrate it in my mental works – and I chanced upon this Sanskrit word in an article regarding Aparigraha – which is ‘Parinamavda’. Parinamavda preaches that change is the only constant in life – and that everything ‘is in a constant state of flux’. Seasons change, people come and go, and life still goes on. The tendency to cling onto past memories, people, results, and forming this attachment that I need to be someone of a certain calibre, or to achieve certain results, in order to properly define who I am. However, with Aparigraha, I will release myself from these stress points in my life, to allow myself the freedom to enjoy the process, and be in the current moment. This is not only beneficial to my own health, but also for my personal development as well. Parinamavda is also important – and it should be a constant reminder for me to prevent myself from forming over-attachments.

Looking forward, I do realise learning attachments and detachments will be a life-Long lesson for me, in order to truly understand and work on Aparigraha. Integrating aparigraha in my life and yoga practise will bring me the freedom to actually experience without stressing out what things should look and be like, and instead learn to experience it proper for what it is by letting go, releasing my preconceived notions and unhealthy attachments in my life and practise.