At my weekly yoga class last week we had a substitute teacher. It has been my observation that every yoga teacher has his or her own way of conducting a yoga class. Some teachers will talk you into a position and then leave you there for hours while they talk about emptying your mind of all thoughts. Others hold a yoga class which more closely resembles a Zumba class, taking you non-stop through a series of repeated positions till some in the room, me included, collapse into child’s pose.
The substitute teacher fell halfway between these two, so it was a good class. However, he did talk me into some positions new to me. At one point my left foot was somewhere it had never been before, and my right hand was supposed to link up with my left hand somewhere along my spinal cord. For a few seconds, my hands did touch each other before I toppled over to one side.
It was in the span of those few seconds with my body so contorted that I said to myself: Oh! This is what Silf was talking about!
Margaret Silf, in her book, Inner Compass, devotes a chapter to addictions, also named negative attachments. She asks the reader to visualize a hook from which you are hanging. All of your energy is spent on the need to hold onto that hook. She asks you to imagine your body exhausted, your arm stiff, your hand raw. Your body, she explains, is trying to tell you that you were not made to carry on like this. My toppling over to one side after contorting myself into this yoga position proved the point for me.
Silf uses the hook as an analogy for addictions and negative attachments, attachments on which we are overly dependent. Dependent comes from the Latin, pendere, to hang – and even on to the German, abhangig, to hang down from. So, the hook analogy fits right in. These negative attachments or addictions can be to something such as alcohol, drugs, power, money or can be people, a spouse in a miserable marriage or a manipulative relative from within your own family.
What are the hooks from which you find yourself hanging in your life? Silf suggests that our feelings will tell us when we are inordinately attached to someone or something. In fear of the loss of that person, we cling on, contorting our minds and our lives so that under no circumstances will we let go and lose that person, that thing. However, something within stirs and whispers that we were not designed for such dependency: we should not have to put so much effort into one person, one thing. Something inside tells us that this ain’t right.
So, go ahead, says Silf. Envision the worst scenario. You let go of the hook, and fall to the cold hard floor. However, you do NOT plunge to your death in an abyss, as you had thought you would without this person, this thing in your life. Rather, you stand up. You are bruised, but you take a step and start to walk. It was a hard-won freedom, but it is freedom and it signals growth, a life without your raw hands hanging on to a hook.
So go ahead. Let go. You’ll be fine. I promise.