1. Avidya or ignorance to our true nature
2. Asmita or egoism, which keeps us feeling separate
3. Raga, the attachments we put on people, places and things
4. Dvesa, the aversions we create when we try to ignore desires
5. Abhinidvesa, fear of change due to our attachments and aversions that the ego creates, which disconnects us from our true nature
For a practitioner of yoga, these are components of the path that we are constantly working through. We realize this early on, but stumble through it often because these are all parts of being human and our constant work here on this planet.
For some time now I have been comforted with raga in a big way. No kidding, for each time I pulled a daily Angel card, about a third of the time it would be "Releasing." I don't recall the timeframe, but some time ago I started going through all of my possessions. I am 51 and I have accumulated a lot of things. I also somehow became the "keeper" of ancestral history and family heirlooms. In my mind, everything I had was for some reason. But in my heart, I knew that I needed to purge and release. As a yoga teacher, it was not lost to me that I had quite a few attachments - not only physical but mental as well. About two years ago a student of mine had literally sold all of his possessions, except for what would fit into his car, and took off to organic farm around the country. He had inspired me to reflect on my possessions, especially as he took one last item out of his car and handed it to me before he took off that Sunday evening.
So, I did what I could do and I started weeding through some items that I had kept in the basement. I started with about six boxes of Christmas ornaments and items that I had not used in at least thirteen years. My sister loves Christmas and has a large garage, so I dropped a lot off to her. I still kept a few things for myself that I use frequently, but my holiday trees are getting smaller and smaller as our family traditions have changed and dwindled. So, why keep it all? I honestly had two shelves of empty boxes for wrapping presents. Why?
Recycled the boxes, and then I started going through papers. I realized that I had at least five years of old business papers that could be destroyed, so I started nightly bonfires to burn them up and let them go. This took months. As I was going through old business papers, I decided to look at my file cabinets. I had two, four-drawer, and two, two-drawer file cabinets in my office...almost all full of papers! A friend staying with me asked if I could go more digital. When she asked this, it shocked my entire system. Digital? But, I need my paper copies for back-up, I thought. I sat with that, and started to go through my files. I was able to release four file drawers, and began to burn those in nightly bonfires too.
I thought that I was really getting somewhere, but my Angel cards kept coming up, and sometime consecutive days: "Release."
I knew that what I needed to release was a lot of physical property, but also old feelings and ways that I was holding on to as well. I began to realize that the home in which I had built with my husband and spent the last sixteen years in, needed to be released - along with everything else that it had represented. When we began to build the home, we were much younger, naive, and full of ourselves. It was a big deal for us to have a big, new house to show off and fill with possessions. My house, as one of my neighbors recently described, "is magazine worthy." It is. My cousin's husband told me a couple of years ago that it was like a museum. Each time I hear these things, my ego swells. I feel proud of myself and my accomplishments.
But what does that really mean?
When we become obsessed with perfectionism or desire things to be a certain way, this is raga. In the beginning it feels good to attain "stuff." But then that stuff begins to control you, and you begin to worry about losing it. Fear that you will no longer be what you think without it takes over. And the next thing you know, you have completely attached to it. I had done this. I had attached to my home to the point that I had no longer equated my own identity beyond it. The fact that taxes had risen considerably, my husband and I were commuting two hours a day acquiring excessive tolls and gas, and needing to work longer and harder in order to manage everything, became a daily programming.
We were completely suffering.
We agreed to put the house up for sale, and began to prepare it for showing. I continued to let go of possessions. I started selling items on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, then at the auction houses. After a short stint there, I just began giving things away. I gave to the Vets, Rise, Trenton Rescue Mission, family and friends. We started to have showings on our home and within six days received two bids.
This is when I became a complete emotional basket case. Because, shit got real. Here I was letting go, but my angel cards kept telling me "Release" and I had still not done so. I kept telling people that I did not want to have to move. I wanted my home to be closer to work, but I was still too attached to this particular home. We accepted one offer, but I was distraught. Then we had an issue and fell out of contract. I was completely relieved! I deceived myself by thinking we could stay, and that it was a sign form the Universe that we were supposed to stay in "our home."
And the Angel cards say, "Release."
In the next two weeks, I did a lot of soul searching and emotional connecting and releasing. It was tough. I had such pain in my body that I began going to doctors to figure out why. I realized that my attachment to my home was unhealthy, but how could I work through this? How could I not feed my illusionary thought-process and finally do what I needed to do to let the house go?
I took some walks in the woods. I realized how much I was holding my breath. Yoga teacher, remember how to properly breathe? I took some down time and meditated, focusing on deep breathing and long holds. I put guided meditations on when I went to bed and focused in on my breath as I fell off. I scheduled all of my dental and doctor appointments and took care of my physical body. I started taking vitamins, eating more vegetables, and drinking more water. I made new energy grids with different stones and began packing my home up. And finally, I did something that I had been ignoring for a really long time: I created a ritual to let the energy go in love and light. I had been ignoring this because I knew that once I put that intention to sacred energy, it would happen. And to close it all off, after a conversation with my cousin, Gabriel, I invited Archangel Gabriel in to whisper to God, that I was ready to release the house, and to help me find a way.
A few days later we received a message that the former buyer was having second thoughts, and was still interested in the property. We agreed to the terms and within two days found a place to move to that is as perfect as we could have asked for. At the time of this writing, we have not moved yet, but I feel a sense of peace in my being that I did not have before.
Raga is difficult. We love what we love, and what we have come to feel that we need in our life to make us whole. In that process, we lose ourself, our true nature, and our peace. It struck me the other day how much suffering I had been allowing myself to live in, just to keep up with the house that I felt that I needed to be in. My Angels knew it. On the days that I didn't get "Release" I often got "Stop Worrying" or "Ask for Help." But I needed to dig into my emotional body, my mental body, and my spiritual body to discern the reasons for this attachment first. I needed to understand, in totality, why I was so attached, and why I was having so much trouble letting go. Once I got there, I was able to replace my fear with love, and the realization of the suffering came to me. Since then I have felt peace.
We come to yoga on the mat, but the real yoga is how we work it off the mat.
Always astounded by the lessons of this practice - even after all these years, I am still an ongoing, humble beginner.
In Love & Light.