Can you practice non-attachment if you still own socks from 7th grade?
Short answer: Please get rid of those socks from 7th grade 😂
I spent this weekend cleaning out my house. I was able to release attachment from so many items that were taking up space in my house. Like the pair of socks I have from 7th grade still sitting my drawer with no elastic left.... yes that was a thing 😂
The whole thing happened by accident. I started by cleaning one small area of my bedroom and next thing I knew I had torn through the entire bedroom, emptied my closet, started 5 (yes 5!) boxes for donation. What started as the intention to tidy up around noon turned into a 12 hour clean house festival.
Some of the most ridiculous items I found to donate…
Two pairs of the same exact pair of black dress pants
6 pairs of jeans, none of which fit me anymore
Old work uniforms that I will never wear again
Suitcases that have been replaced with gifted luggage from our wedding and were just sitting in the back of the closet
Wedding/Bridal shower decorations
Purses from the mid 2000s that will hopefully never be in fashion again
17 tote bags and draw string back packs that I got for free at work conventions and have never been used (pro tip: just don’t take the free bags anymore. I promise you don’t need them even if they are free)
Clothing that I have never worn, tags still on. One entire trash bag of clothes like this which will all be donated
And of course, several pairs of socks from 7th grade which have no elastic left and holes in the toes.
OK there’s a lot more but you get the point. I had a lot of items in just my bedroom taking up unneeded storage space. I will never use these things again and I have known this for a long time. But every time I went to get rid of them I heard the same thing in my head, “What if I need this one day, I could use this”
You know the voice. It keeps your house full of stuff you never use. That’s attachment, not emotion and definitely not how you should decide what takes up space in your life.
Closet full of gift bags? You can use them for other peoples gifts right? But you always end up buying new ones because you can’t find the ones in your home or forget they are there.
Books? It doesn’t count as hoarding if it’s books though, right? Well it depends. Do you read them regularly? I read the Harry Potter series once a year so I don’t get rid of them because they are loved. But that economics textbook that I never opened, even while enrolled in the class, why is it still on my shelf? 10 years later!
So why is a yoga teacher sitting here telling you about cleaning out her closet? What does this even have to do with yoga. Quite a lot actually.
Before I get too deeply into this next part, I want to share that I am writing this from a place of curiosity and not a place of deep knowledge. My journey into the 8 limbs of yoga is just beginning, but I wanted to share what I’m learning in case anyone else finds it useful. I am simply a student, sharing some learning that made me stop in my tracks and reevaluate how I was living.
In yoga there are basic principles that this practice was founded on in the very early days of its creation. The Yamas and Niyamas are part of an 8 limbed path that are considered to be the ethical guidelines of any Yogic practice. You can interpret them in any way you like and I don’t consider myself a teacher of these, but rather an eternal student. This part of yoga is more closely connected to the philosophy of yoga and less connected to the standard western interpretation of yoga which means getting sweaty and wearing cute pants (not hating, I love a cute pair of sparkly yoga pants!)
I think its important to revisit the philosophy of yoga regularly to get connected to the practice as a whole. Truly honoring where this practice began so many years ago and infusing its teachings into my life in order to have a better understanding of how to live in the moment.
What are the Yamas and Niyamas? Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras and it is in short, an outline of a path to take to purify the mind and body. Ultimately creating a happier more bliss like state of existence by bringing these practices into our daily lives. As I stated earlier, I still consider myself a new student to these ideas but I’m already seeing a positive influence in my life by learning about each of them. So for today, we will keep it simple.
Yamas (Social restraints)
Ahimsa (non harming)
Asteya (non stealing)
Aparigraha (non possessiveness)
Brahmacharya (Maintenance of Vitality)
Niyamas (Self discipline)
Tapas (purification through discipline)
Svadhayaya (self study)
Ishvara Pranidhana (devotion to a higher power)
In yoga we hear teachers mention non attachment regularly. But what does that even mean?
“The practice of aparigraha is the virtue of non-possessiveness, non-grasping or non-greediness. Aparigrah refers to keeping the desire for possessions to what is necessary or important, depending on one's life stage and context.” (thanks wikipedia!)
Now I could literally write a novel on what this practice relates to in yoga and life. But I think for most of us, it makes sense. When you let go attachment to objects or ideas, you are able to operate at a higher level and see things more clearly, love more deeply and experience things in a more present way.
If you have a hard time letting go of objects, or if you happen to be hoarding socks from 7th grade (that's me, I did that 🤦♀️), center in on why you are holding attachment to an item or idea. Is it possible to still hold the memory in our mind of a happy time when we bought a tshirt instead of holding onto the tshirt itself? Yes, it’s very possible.
Learning to let go attachment is a process. I haven’t mastered it by any means but by understanding and trying to apply the 8 limbs of yoga to my life, I am slowly becoming more clear, present and happy. I think it’s also important to note that attachment doesn’t just exist in holding physical items. We could be holding attachments to thought processes, energy… really anything. Practice letting go and finding contentment in small doses until it becomes a practice for you.
Below are some resources for you to check out on your own if you’d like to dig deeper into anything I mentioned above. Always happy to have comments or questions sent to me too. Let’s keep the convo going!
This book changed the game for me when it came to the emotional attachment to clutter. It’s a great first step to clear out space in your life and let go of attachment to objects.
If you aren’t into reading, check out this documentary about minimalism. After watching this I really began to understand this concept and what kind of freedom can come along with it. Last I checked it was available on Netflix!
I hope to share more with you as I get further into my study of these philosophies but hope you enjoyed reading along. Let me know how this hit home with you.
And please, get rid of those old socks. ;)