The decision to go to an ashram came suddenly. I had no time to think about it, it was now or never and so I jumped.
I was scared, anxious and nervous. Not feeling ready to go, I had a lot of work. My father had died recently, my inheritance had been stolen, I had lost many friends and my life was in complete chaos. I was drinking too much and smoking like a chimney.
Was this the best moment to go?
The thought of leaving my house, my dogs, my family, my food and addictions created a profound sense of anxiety in me.
However, I had been miserably sad for quite some time, I had battled the biggest wars in my life the previous year and they had left me drained, tired and submerge in a profound depression.
But the idea of getting away from everything for a month also brought a trace of the freedom I had lost.
It was like a soft, barely audible voice in the back of my head whispered “just go”, and so I went.
I had little savings from the sale of my dad’s golf car. It had been so hard to sell his car, it wasn’t just the only material possession I had managed to save, but it was also HIS car.
I knew my dad would be outraged if he knew I was holding on to it knowing I had money problems. He was a practical person that only held on to life itself.
With tears in my eyes I used that money to pay for the flights and the course. It was the last trip he would ever pay for me.
After three flights, two taxi drives and a boat ride I arrived to the ashram in the small Caribbean island.
My main objective by going to the ashram was to get a yoga-teaching certificate, but what I found was much greater.
I got there with a very heavy load. I had been travelling through life with overweight in my luggage and it made hard to move forward.
6 Lessons About Attachment Learned From an Ashram
I never saw myself as a person with too many attachments. I gave my material possessions away easily, I didn’t care if my dogs ate my favorite pair of sandals and my car is a 1999 model that I refuse to change, not because I love it but because it still works.
But I was heavy, I felt like I had been carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I didn’t know my body could tell my story but it did.
A person from the ashram approached me once as I did my laundry and said;
“let go darling, the weight of your attachments is sinking your shoulders, look at your posture.”
I hadn’t noticed, but the once straight posture with long neck that I glamorously strutted down the streets had now turned into a hunchback and curved shoulders.
Here a 6 great lessons I learned about attachment from visiting an ashram:
1. The Load of Attachments Can Sink You to a Bottomless Pit
I was attached to absolutely everything. The wealth I had lost, my father, addictions, beliefs, memories, youth, the uncertainty of my future, friends, betrayal, hatred and the list goes on.
I had been carrying them with me wherever I went.
My happiness depended on my attachments and when I lost them all I lost my happiness. Happiness was then not within me, but dependent to the outside world.
I was also holding on to things and emotions that where severely damaging my body and soul. I needed to let go of the hatred, resentment and anguish I had so tightly held on to substitute the joy I once felt.
They were drowning me and I was the only one that held the power to save me.
2. Don’t Let Your Attachments Be the Reason of Your Happiness
Anything and everything that you are attached to can leave. Your beauty, your spouse, your wealth, your loved ones and even your own life.
The thought that we can lose everything we love can inundate us with fear. This is a hard lesson to be learned. That fear itself comes from attachment and that it is necessary to let go so we can fully experience freedom.
3. Non-Attachment Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Care
When I first heard about letting go of my attachments the first thing that jumped into my mind was “does that mean that I’m supposed to not love anyone?”
No! This is not what non-attachment means. You care, you love and this is the beautiful part of it. That you love but never desiring, you love without trying to posses, you care but you don’t own.
You love your dog but if your dog dies you don’t suffer. You become self aware that nothing is forever and that everything is temporarily. That you hold no control over the outside world and that your thoughts are the only thing that you’ll ever truly rule over.
4. We All Have More Attachments than We Can Imagine
The world we live in is one of attachments; we want to own everything, even people. Women hold on to their youth like children to a new toy, men hold on to their erections like koala bears to a tree.
And we are all attached to an endless list of material possessions, people, and memories. We take countless photos and videos of everyday life trying to preserve it in bytes. But the truth is that as we take that video the moment is slipping through our lives like water through our fingers.
5. Don’t Attach Yourself to Life Because it WILL Kill You
At the ashram we where taught how one of the biggest attachments – if not the biggest one, people will ever have is to life itself. And it is a battle we’ll all lose at the end.
Someday, somehow you and I WILL die; it’s just a matter of time. Fearing the inevitable is suffering in vain. You, however, choose how you want to face this undeniable fact.
You can fear it or embrace it.
Accept that our bodies are mortal, that life is limited and that death is just part of the journey.
6. Non-Attachment is the Hardest Lesson to Be Learned
Life has clearly been trying to teach me this lesson, and I’ve failed over and over again. It’s not easy, otherwise everyone would be happy and the world would be a much better place.
However, it takes patience and it takes A LOT of self-awareness. It takes baby steps and lots of tears.
We don’t let go by ripping the love out of our being, nor by forgetting. But by understanding that we came into this world naked and alone and we shall leave it the same way.
As babies we are smart enough to not have any attachments. A newborn can be adopted by a new mother and remembers nothing from his birth mother, a baby doesn’t care if you give away his toys, a baby is smart enough to not have any desires.
As we grow old the challenge start to settle and the baby soon craves for his mother’s arms, the child wants to hold on to his toys and the adult wants to hold on to everything.
I left a lot of my baggage at the ashram. My shoulders are beginning to slowly straighten back again and my neck is starting to come out of the cave my collarbone had provided.
I know that I still have a lot of weight that I need to get rid of but it is a life journey of self-awareness, discovery and release.