APRIL THEME – RAGA (ATTACHMENT)
Written by Kristin Nell
When we let go, we grow.
As a society, it seems we are often attached to our habitual ways, experiences/memories, material objects, money, people, and believe that if we continue to grip ourselves to these ‘safety zones’, we will always feel a sense of inner security. As a newborn, we were conditioned to live this way – wanting our mother, milk, warmth, or that favourite blanket/teddy – in all attempts to wrap ourselves in pleasure and reassurance. Raga, the 3rd klesha, describes this energy of attachment, desire, and greed. It’s that sense of needing something outside of us, in order to be okay.
Great attachment, or in other words clinging to this life, clouds our mind with much affliction that keeps us constantly unsatisfied and restless. At some point we must let go of the old, in order to make room for the new. Like the breath, when it is held too long, it becomes toxic. However, if we trust to release the breath knowing that nourishment will come along, we open to life force and growth.
We can all pin point our Raga trait in our daily life, whether it’s gazing and planning towards the future so we feel some sort of certainty and power, stubbornly gripping onto ideas, beliefs or past thoughts, wishing we could forever hold onto our youth, surroundings and relationships, preferring to stay in the familiar, rather than seek the unknown. Perhaps you frequently notice yourself saying ‘I need that’, ‘I should do that’, ‘What if I did/ didn’t do that’, or ‘I’ll finally be happy when that happens’.
Krishna Das (a kirtan musician and bhakti yogi), states that overtime we have developed such a strong ‘holding on’ muscle in our mind, that we have forgotten we also have a ‘letting go’ muscle. He suggests that we exercise this muscle more often, so we can expand and venture into change and freedom.
To work with raga, we must realise that the whole of who we are is so much more than our attachments. Embracing our life fully with healthy wants or needs will provide us with internal happiness, inspiration, and lightness.
Reflection: Begin to explore into your attachments. Notice when you feel stuck, or a sense of clinging. What kind of experience does it create in your body and mind? What expectations are you placing on yourself? How can you cultivate detachment and simplify your lifestyle?