Off the Mat Yoga

Are We Too Attached to Non-Attachment?

It seems everyone in the yoga world these days is obsessed with aparigraha, or “non-attachment.” Bearded men with man-buns are selling their belongings and living out of their Westfalia vans in the name of non-attachment. Dreadlocked women decked out in organic, hemp, tie-dyed pants are investing in tiny houses that fit only themselves, their beds, and their noisy on-road scooters in an effort to ditch any lingering attachment they might be harboring.

As a full-time yoga instructor who lives in a fairly-priced condo, with a 15 year old car, and an obsession with cleaning out my closets, I ask, “Are we too attached to non-attachment?”

It seems that our bearded Westafalians and dread-headed tiny housers are as attached to their vans, tiny houses, and organic clothing as they are to their love of non-attachment. Have we transitioned from an attachment to meaningless, unnecessary physical objects to a full-blown attachment to popular expressions of non-attachment?

In our pursuit of non-attachment, we’ve convinced ourselves that it is selfish to want or desire for anything more than we currently possess. We’ve forgotten that desire is a powerful force, pointing us towards that which we value most in life.

If there is one thing that desire is not, it’s selfish or evil. We’re allowed to want more. Simply because we are living, we can desire something more. There’s no need to question whether or not your desires are worthy of your attention. Simply because they exist, they are worthy.

Let’s cut the crap. Where do we get off thinking that we can’t have what we want? What grump didn’t get what he wanted and decided that, from that day on, it would be selfish and unfair to desire? That’s the true root of injustice in our relationship to non-attachment and desire – the guilt and shame associated with simply wanting something in life.

Desire is a natural human emotion. Because you are alive, you are allowed to desire. Whether or not you feel guilty about it is entirely up to you. The choice is yours.

In our fervent pursuit of non-attachment, we have been denying ourselves our basic right to desire whatever the hell we want in life. It’s rather ironic considering we embarked upon our yogic paths because we desired something different, something more. We wanted to find ease, self-love, peace, a sense of self, a strong body, a sound mind, and so much more. Whatever it was, it was that desire that led you to yoga.

Perhaps desire is sneakily pointing us to where we were always meant to be.

I invite you to stop feeling guilt for wanting whatever it is that you want. Own it. Want it with your whole entire heart. Embrace your innate human ability to desire whatever the hell you want.

What do you think – If we ditch our attachment to non-attachment, is it possible we might be that much closer to true non-attachment?

4 Comments

  1. Amanda

    Amanda

    August 13, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Yes! I wrote about this recently. There’s a difference, to me at least, between loving and enjoying something and becoming attached to it. I think that having colorful yoga pants, listening to music on the latest device, and sleeping in a beautiful, comfortable bed are how we honor the creative process and the people who brought all those ideas to life. It’s okay to want things, okay to enjoy them. The trouble is when we’re so attached to them that our lives/moods are affected when we lose them. So I think the idea of getting unattached to non-attachment is a good way of putting it if we’re equating non-attachment with extreme minimalism. That said, I think there are some who are truly happier that way, and that’s awesome! It’s not the worst thing to experiment with….what does it feel like to narrow the closet down to 10 items? To live in a tiny house? To give up your car? It’s okay to do it and then decide, yeah, okay, I really enjoy my car and large bedroom and 20 pairs of yoga pants. 🙂 Thanks for writing! This is one of my favorite yoga topics. 🙂

    1. Brandy

      Brandy

      August 26, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      Yes, Amanda! I love looking at non-attachment as an experiment. Checking in to recognize what I can live without, what in my life is truly important to me, what items transport me back to beautiful memories. I also love consciously deciding to buy the cute new jean jacket and fancy shoes because they make me feel fun, funky, and like a confident goddess. If everything is yoga, and yoga is about balance, than even our relationship with attachment and non-attachment is all about balance…or so it seems.

  2. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    August 13, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    You make some fantastic points! I do have moments of attachment, where I get so unnecessarily obsessed with something and I can’t function without it. It’s a little absurd, so I’ve been trying to be more mindful. I practice nonattachment for things that I can answer “yes” to this question; “If it gets ruined or lost, can you live without it?” My answer for MANY material objects is, “yes I can.” That doesn’t mean I go and sell all my belongings just because I CAN live without them. It’s not that I live in luxury, but I live comfortably. I own too many pairs of yoga pants, we have a big screen TV in our living room, and our king size bed is heavenly. Why should I sell things I enjoy, even if I can live without them? Thanks for the great read! I definitely think we should try to be more mindful about our “attachments” and not necessarily practice an extreme case of non-attachment.

    1. Brandy

      Brandy

      August 26, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Yes, well said! I love my plush comforter, my soft sheer curtains, and all my turquoise jewelry. They make me feel happy and confident, and on some of my weakest days they allow me to show up to life with a vibrancy I may not have had otherwise. Perhaps it’s healthy attachment? Mindful attachment? Conscious attachment? I’m not sure, but I like it!

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