Monday, May 4, 2009

86/123 - Attachment

Sunday Off

I thought I wanted to go to class yesterday.  Then, thinking it over more carefully, I realized I wanted to stick to my arbitrary goal of 5 classes per week.  So, it was my ego that was pushing me to go to class.  My body wanted to eat a normal lunch and rest.  And I also felt like taking a day off might be better for me, since I haven't been getting much sleep.

In the Day 121 meditation, we come to the third affliction:  attachment or desire.  Gates says there is a difference between simply wanting something, and suffering from attachment.  As best I can figure it, attachment occurs when we start thinking that we need the things that we simply want.  Examples abound:  Starbucks (or just the morning coffee).  For me, for years it was Diet Coke.  Then there are all sorts of entertainments and devices in our lives, from our constant exposure to music and other noise, to all the little conveniences we come to need.

There's a part of a big disaster that I really enjoy.  Last year, Hurricane Ike knocked out our power for several days.  All the restaurants nearby were closed.  I had canned tuna, and some other reserves in stock.  And for a few days, there were no lights, no TV, no internet, no reason to go out since everything was closed.  I actually talked to my neighbors.  We went for walks.  We slept early, and sweated through the nights, since there was no AC.  And through all of this, people genuinely had the sense of how lucky we were, since we had water and our houses were still standing, and no-one was hurt.  What I like about these times is that people come together, and most people temporarily get a sense of what they can do without.

On the flip side of this, I remember one morning in the coffee room at the law firm where I worked.  One of lawyers was making his single cup of very expensive, gourmet coffee.  Another lawyer teased him about it, and he said, without irony, "This coffee is the one luxury I afford myself."  For background, he drove a Porche 911, had just recently bought a $3 million dollar house, sent his kids to the best private schools in town, wore custom tailored suits and shirts with his initials monogramed into the cuffs, and I could go on and on.  And I am sincere about his not having a trace of irony when he said it:  he didn't see all the other stuff as luxuries at all.  In his mind, they were all the fulfillments of basic needs.

In Bikram, letting go of our attachments is a pretty big deal.  That's the whole thing with drinking water.  There is of course, nothing wrong, with drinking water in class.  When I try to limit or stop  water intake, what I'm really doing is trying to distinguish want from need.  Thus, after a few classes of going without water at all, I think its perfectly fine to go back to having a sip now and then.  It's fine because I have some confidence that I'm drinking water simply because I want it,  and not because I am fulfilling some false need.  Then, after a while, I have to re-examine whether I'm feeling a false "need" for the water, and if so, its time to hit the discipline again.

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