It’s fall here in New England, we’re seeing the last blast of color this week, before the trees release the last of their leaves. I’ve seen some memes on Social Media that say ‘the leaves are about to show us how beautiful it is to let go”, which has a nice ring to it. However, I’m realizing that I don’t like to let things go, and I don’t mean the Marie Kondo type of letting go, that, I’m ok with. It’s the letting go of the things I enjoy doing, my habits, rituals, or if Athleta stop making my favorite style of leggings, without a good replacement option, I’m not ok.
As a creature of habit, I like a predictable schedule, I cling to it. This is something I am sitting with in my Yoga practice lately because my routine changed a few months ago, when my Yoga teacher took some time off. I really miss her presence, and her class. I still get to see my lovely friend and teacher, but not in a teacher, student capacity. It feels super trivial to even consider this a “problem”, I know, I’m so lucky to be in a community packed with amazing teachers, with lots of times available for me to join a group class, and I do. But just like all chocolate chip cookies are good, many are great, gourmet even, there’s something about Grandma’s cookies that make them the best, there’s something about that teacher that’s so special. And, I get that the issue is 100% my inability to let go, and make space.
Turns out, there’s a Yama for that! Aparigraha: Non Possessiveness, also translated as non attachment, or non greed. It’s easy to become attached to things that bring us pleasure. The first cookie was good, so we go for the second and third, seeking that same yummy taste, the pleasure. Aparigraha, invites us to enjoy life, eat the cookie, but stop at one. Be able to let go, enjoy life fully, care deeply, without attachment to an outcome, or attachment to when the next cookie will come along!
This Yama, or Ethical Guideline in the Story of Yoga, asks us to let go, make space and trust that nourishment will come.
That’s where the bananas come in, paraphrased from The Yamas & the Niyamas by Deborah Adele:
There’s an ancient process of capturing monkeys in India, in this process, small cages with narrow bars are made and a banana is placed inside the cage. The monkeys come along, reach inside the cage and grab a banana. Then the monkeys begin the impossible task of trying to pull the banana thru the bars. And here’s the amazing thing- at the moment the monkey catchers come along, the monkeys are completely free! There’s nothing that stops them from getting away when they hear someone coming… except letting go of the banana!
If we can’t let go of the banana, our expectations will keep us captive and we find ourselves disgruntled. And it’s not about never enjoying the banana, it’s realizing when the attachment to that banana is causing us to suffer. So, Yogi’s, I invite you to notice what you’re clinging to, and release your bananas. Trust yourself, let go. Your cage is not locked!