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My Thoughts on Attachment towards Sensations

It’s been almost three months of continuous Ashtanga practice, with ups and downs, minor injuries and major progress. But I realized once again how important it is to detach oneself from a mere physical practice or from the results that one was hoping to gain. The most liberating thing during the asana practice for me is to be in the present moment and to observe, without drifting away with the thoughts that might arise. Practicing without hoping for a certain outcome, just being in the here and now. But easier said than done, it’s not that easy to leave the physical realm.

During these last months of intense asana practice I had some physical issues that - thankfully - were only minor. They happened because I wasn’t focused OR because my ego wanted too much. Obviously I was cursing myself for that, but at the same time this experience has taught me an important lesson about myself:

I love to suffer.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that I’m not a masochist, but man, I can hold on to the feeling of pain like there’s no tomorrow, which doesn’t help the situation.

To constantly identify oneself with a certain („good“ or a „bad“) sensation, makes it hard to focus on something else and can take away lots of energy. The only thing that is seen, felt and thought is - in this case - pain. Suddenly there is full attachment towards the sensation of pain and the suffering that comes with it. Often the mind can make (physical and mental) pain even worse than it already is, simply by putting its full attention towards it. It’s almost like meditation, where pain is the object of attention - which can actually be a great tool if one manages not to attach any labels (like good, bad, annoying) onto it - but again, this might be easier said than done.

I was using physical pain as an example, but you can basically insert any type of sensation here (itchy toe, clogged nose, heartache, anxiety, but also rather positive emotions like love and you name it).

I don’t know where this story was supposed to go, I just let my fingers flow and now here we are. But I invite you next time you go to bed to be still and to observe if certain physical sensations arise. Maybe your nose is itchy or clogged, or your toe touches the blanket in an annoying way. Practice stillness just for a few moments, try not to immediately act upon the sensation that might or might not arise, just observe and breathe. A short - but regular - awareness practice before bedtime (or anytime of the day) can already make a big difference in how you deal with sensations in general, even though it might seem insignificant now.

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