Letting Go of Attachments
Finding peace by releasing expectations
Why is it so difficult to let go of our attachments and expectations in life? In yoga, one of the yamas (moral restraints) is aparigraha or non-possessiveness. This is also referred to as non-attachment. Out of all the yamas, this is definitely the one I have the most difficult time embodying. It is also something that weaves its way into so many other areas that I’m constantly working on; including letting go of control and perfectionism, releasing the need to please everyone, and being present in the moment, instead of trying to predict a future outcome.
I also find myself getting the most attached to the outcomes that mean the most to me or to things that I want the most. In these instances, I create my own suffering by holding so tightly to my expectations of how things should be. This is some of my greatest personal work and something I will probably be working on for the rest of my life. It’s the practice of noticing when I am getting attached to an idea, an expectation, a person, an outcome and letting go of the need to control and force. It’s constantly coming back to myself, my breath and the present moment in order to release my attachments. The deeper I go into this work, the more apparent it is how intertwined all of these things are for me. The silver lining is the awareness of these tendencies and being able to utilize all of the tools at my disposal to course correct and come back to the present (breathwork, yoga, journaling, affirmations and mantras, etc.). This doesn’t mean it is an easy process, by any means. It simply means I have ways to work through the discomfort that comes up around releasing attachments.
This non-attachment is also in reference to being attached to our thoughts and emotions. As an overthinker, my brain is constantly whirring. This is one of the reasons I love yoga so much; it gives me space to focus on and return to my breath and my body, instead of getting caught in the constant thought loop in my head. Our thoughts and emotions are fluid and ever-changing, so getting attached to them is useless. This is also why meditation is so helpful. The goal isn’t to completely stop the thoughts in our mind, but to allow them to come and go gracefully and gently without getting attached to them or analyzing them. Much easier said than done, which is why this is a constant work in progress and a lifelong practice. But, like other things that we consistently practice, we can make strides in letting go of the attachment to our thoughts in order to allow for a greater lightness of being in our day-to-day lives.
One of the greatest virtues we can foster when we are working on these areas is patience. A trait that does not always come easily to me. Even with consistent and devoted practice, it has taken years for me to see improvement in some areas. When I do take the time to notice and acknowledge my progress, it feels so incredible. However, something else to not get attached to. We can’t be attached to the outcome of our practice. The practice itself, the work, the journey, these are the things that matter the most. The process of letting go of our fears, our desires, and our old patterns is aparigraha in practice. Once I let go of my attachment to the results of the work, that is when I can truly see progress and also cultivate a sense of calm and peace instead of being stuck in my anxious thoughts over how things will work out. The magic is in letting go of my expectations and attachments and being present for the journey, open to what the universe has to teach me in every moment.