Mantra Monday: “I Practice Non-Attachment.”

Aparigraha or Non-Possessiveness is the fifth and final yama. When studying this yama, I learned another way to view non-possessiveness is through the lense of non-attachment.

Attachment is still something I struggle to understand and it is talked about considerably when discussing all branches of the yoga tree and through The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali.
Pantanjali defines attachment as “the consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving from objects seen or heard.”
Awesome. Did that make sense to you? It did not to me the first, second and third time I read it. We discussed this concept at length throughout my yoga teacher training and attachment always seemed to be at the core of any sense of suffering; physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, etc.
For awhile, I struggled with the thought process that maybe I was not supposed to care about anything? If caring about something or someone led me to be attached to them and the fear of losing them led to attachment, well, should I just not care?
Not caring can be a freeing concept in some respects. Not caring so much has helped me deal with some forms of my anxiety where maybe I am not caring so much about my appearance, about how fast I can run, about how far I can push myself in a yoga pose.

But, there are some things, or mainly, people, I have a hard time not caring about.
My biggest attachment and thoughts that cause suffering relate to the fear of losing people. My core group of loves ones (husband, step-son, family members and friends) are treasured and dear to me and the thought of anything “bad” happening to them or an untimely death causes me to have anxious thoughts.
I was confronted with this construct pretty head on when my dad was murdered four years ago. My biggest fear and source of anxiety up to that point was losing someone I loved and then crash, bang, boom, I did.
Does non-attachment tell me to not care about what happened to my dad or my healing process? The way I am understanding attachment is that it does not mean a lack of care, but a lack of investment to an expected outcome. I am trying to be at peace with whatever outcomes may come in regards to the things and people I care about.
Non-attachment to outcomes has helped me not suffer as much through the legal process surrounding the arrests made in my dad’s case. The legal process is still dragging on and I work to be at peace with whatever may be and not let the results affect my own personal healing journey.
I believe attachment is the main source of the anxiety I experienced for so many years. Although it still creeps in from time to time, having an awareness of what is going on has helped tremendously in dealing with the racing thoughts.
There was an incident a few months back with my step-son’s school bus. He was almost at school when a stolen truck crashed into the bus. The driver of the truck got out to run and the cops begin shooting at him. Right.next.to.the.bus. Everyone was OK. The driver was arrested. The kids made it to school safely. My step-son was fine.
The next day as I drove to work and thought about him on that bus, I constructed a whole alternative, catastrophized scenario in my head. I decided to never let him out of the house again and cover him in bubble wrap when we needed to go outside for some requisite sunlight.
I am exaggerating, but I am sure you can imagine how this event sent my anxiety soaring, but I was able to recognize it before it spiraled out of control. I beging using the mantra “I do not own safety. I do not own people.” My step-son is one of the greatest blessings of my life, but he does not belong to me. I have to work to be at peace that the universe, his guides and god will always protect him.
I used tree pose or vrksasana to demonstrate non-attachment or possessiveness. I love how this pose feels both grounding and lifting simultaneously. In order to stay stable in this pose, the standing foot must be firmly grounded and connected to the earth. The breath has to flow calmly and freely, the body lifts and the crown of the head connects to a higher source. If you hold your breath, become anxious or overthink it, you will fall out of this pose. Tree pose takes both tremendous focus and freedom of the mind, just like the journey to non-attachment.

aparigraha

Creating Your Own Religion Through Make-Up

Make up has always been powerful to me. I was always amazed by the way it could change appearance and make someone instantly more glamorous. My first make up icon was grandma and I would be in a trance watching her apply her bright red lipstick. My grandma put on that lipstick before going to K Mart, taking me to Chuck E. Cheese or even before taking a walk through the neighborhood. It was essential.

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I knew I would wear make up as soon as I was allowed. My mom told me when I was in middle school, “you can wear make-up, but I am not buying it for you. It’s not a necessity.” Well, maybe to her it wasn’t, but since I had been waiting for that permission for years, my days of crime begin and I started stealing make-up. Then I got caught and stopped. 
Make-up made me feel transformed and glamorous and all that couldn’t stop because I was a reformed shoplifter, so like a good citizen, I worked for my money and begin spending my baby-sitting earnings on new eyeshadows, bright lipsticks and oh, so much glitter. I was completely mesmerized by Kevyn Aucoin. I checked out his book Making Faces over and over again from my local library and tried to create different looks.
My relationship with make-up has not always been healthy and balanced, and I did a complete overhaul of my MAC products when I made the commitment to no longer use products tested on animals.
I have slowly been re-building my collection with cruelty-free alternatives and have been reminded of how transformative a new lipstick can be. If my energy or confidence is dragging low, a bright red seems to work wonders. If a day is mundane and boring, at least my eyeliner doesn’t have to be and I can give myself a lift with a winged look.
I absolutely love having a reason to dress up in costume. I recently went to the Renaissance Faire and had a fun time creating different looks.
The first is an attempt to look like one of The Sand Snakes from Game of Thrones.
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The next weekend, my family coordinated a Steam Punk theme. We have been working on this costume and though we still have more to add, it was improved since last year.
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FUN!

Mantra Monday: “I Maintain Vitality.”

Brahmacharya, or chastity is the Yama I focused on last week.

Chastity is not a very popular notion. Many modern day yogis, myself included, might not be so keen to the idea of brahmacharya, if celibacy were a requirement for adhering to the yamas.

A more modern interpretation of brahmacharya is maintaining vitality or tempering excesses. Ancient yogis would practice chastity in order to have more energy to devote to yoga, meditation and raising the collective consciousness.

This idea makes a little more sense to me. I am definitely a person of excess and seem to completely throw myself obsessively into habits, both good and bad. Moderation, balance, a little of this and that has always been a problem for me. I ran a marathon before ever running a 5K or half-marathon. I have a real problem with eating till I feel like I am full, instead of satiated.

I do not maintain my vitality or energy very well. I go all in. This has not worked out that great for me. It leaves me feeling drained, spent and takes the joy out of previously enjoyable activities (like running).

Yoga has helped me become more aware of maintaining vitality and trying to practice moderation. I have been trying to temper my excesses and question my motivations before I throw myself into something.

I chose Child’s Pose or Balanasana to practice brahmacharya. This pose is calming and helps to re-regulate the breath. I often remind my students that this is a pose they can come to anytime during class, whether it is cued or not. This is a pose to find when you feel you have lost your breath, when you need to sit a pose out or when you simply need a moment of privacy.

I have been much better about being honest with myself in my yoga practice, and finding this pose when I am feeling overheated or overworked. However, I still need to work on finding the principles of this pose off of my mat. Can I take a moment to stop and re-connect with my breath before I make a decision? Can I pay more attention to my breath and body to maintain more vitality?

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Last Chance To Enter and Win an Autographed Copy of Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It!!

Hi everyone!! Spiritual Bahana is giving away a free autographed copy of Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It signed by yours truly, Eduardo Martinez.

For those of you who don’t know, last summer I entered an essay writing contest by the acclaimed author Elizabeth Gilbert. Liz Gilbert is a New York Times best selling author who’s inspired millions of women and men to look at their lives and change them for the better. Since its release in 2006, over 10 million copies have been sold and it established her as a world famous writer. Eat Pray Love sold over 10 million copies ever since its first release in 2006. Her story of self discovery was also made into a movie directed by Ryan Murphy, the creator of American Horror Story and most recently The People Vs. Oj Simpson.

Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It is a collection of essays written by fans from around the world who were inspired to go on their own spiritual quest after reading the book. Although I didn’t travel around the world to find myself, I believe you’ll find my simple story of hard work and determination just as inspiring.

As of last week, Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It has become number 5 on the New York Times Best Sellers Travel List.

The book and author were also featured on Good Morning America:

You have mutliple chances to win! You can enter by:

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You can chose one or all options for multiple entries. The contest begins today and will run through midnight on Sunday, 5/15. The winner will be announced on Monday, 5/16.

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