Monday, March 9, 2020

Aparigraha, Avidya, and Dvesha

Aparigraha is a Sankrit word that literally means "non-taking on all sides." I interpret this to encompass a state of not wanting more, of not constantly searching for stimuli, as well as one of non-possessiveness. It is one of the fundamental yamas, or social-restraints in yoga.

Part and parcel to this, for me, go two of the kleshas (cloudings, poisons, blockages) from yogic philosophy: Avidya which is (unhealthy) attachment, and Dvesha, which is (equally unhealthy) aversion.

This week’s life lesson is holding all three concepts front and center for me to inspect in all their ugly truth.

My teaching schedule of at least one class every day of the week (some days one, some five), serving others to make a living, volunteering in a community play, enrolling in continuing education, socializing, shuttling my son to activities, and attempting to manage a household (is it all truly altruistic?) seems to leave little time for self care.

I’m attached to my commitments. I’m attached to my habits. I'm attached to my schedule. I’m attached to my traditional self care choices (e.g., studio yoga classes, dining out, hot baths, staying up late doing crossword puzzles).

I’m adverse to changes in my routine, alternative self-care ideas, and as I've found out, quite adverse to the germs I’ve picked up burning the candle at both ends.

What started as a "simple" cold, five weeks later was a nagging cough that ended me in the urgent care the last night of rehearsal of a one-night-only community performance. In this battle of kleshas, something had to give, and it was my body. I had to bow out of the play, and nine weeks of rehearsal were all for naught because my body is unable to shake off any more (microbiotic) attachments (and I certainly don’t want to transfer them onto anyone else). I found subs for as many of the classes as I could, and I laid in bed (now going on two days).

The disappointment I feel is equal to (perhaps greater than) the physical ailment. I am sure my cast mates feel bad but I know they will wow the audience (update: oh, they most certainly did). My part was small, and it’s my ego suffering more than anything. So it’s my attachment to doing the activity, and the thrill of being on a stage that I know is making me feel blue. My aversion is to letting people down, as well as to missing out on the excitement.

Now on the second day of being homebound, I have to reevaluate my schedule to make sure I’m actually being realistic about the number of tasks I try to accomplish. I look at other busy people and think "Why is it they can do it an I can't? All this time stuck at home, feels like it's being wasted time. But I have little energy to be "productive."

My adult self says all this self-quarantine and quiet time is a good thing in and of itself, but it is hard. Sitting with disappointment, sadness, and feeling unwell without feeling sorry for myself, or trying to get busy is difficult.

So I'm face to face with my biggest aversion: stillness. I can't take on (attach to) another activity to avoid feeling bad, and I need to rest. I have playlist full of meditations that waits patiently for my attention, and it seems like now, if not other time, would be a good one to practice what I preach.

Deep breath. Cough cough. Sigh.

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