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Lions Roar : July 2009
47 SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2009 about what a grasping mind feels like. yoga is not an ideology, philosophy, or moral code about the goodness of letting go and the badness of attachment. letting go is what happens when the suffering of holding on is felt and recognized. the most obvious attachment is to material objects and sensory pleasures, including possessions, and sensual or sexual sensations. attachment to particular “feel good” experiences, like the potential- ly seductive enjoyment of stretching and moving the body, or the excitement of accomplishment, are some examples, as is the “yoga buzz” many practitioners seek in their practice. there’s nothing wrong with enjoying physical pleasure, but if we are dominated by our attachment to pleasure, we will suffer when it dissipates. another type of attachment is to opinions, beliefs, views, and theories. While practicing asana, we may find ourselves attached to ideas about what we should be able to do, what we should be feeling, and the correct form of the asana. We may find ourselves caught in a belief about what we cannot do or will never be able to do. again, ideas and opinions are not the issue; it’s the degree of our attach- ment to them that creates suffering. if we are attached to strong ideas about what we need to be happy and free, the attachment to those very ideas becomes an obstacle to happiness and freedom. and there can be attachment to practice itself. the Buddha strongly warned against getting attached to ritual and traditional practices. it is possible to become so attached to a particular form of practice that you remain in your comfort zone, never testing your edges. the form becomes a trap rather than a tool for liberation. to appreciate and be firm in our commitment to a particular practice is one thing, but if we become overly attached and obsessive with the form, we can all too easily lose the liberating spirit of the practice. the most challenging attachment includes everything that we can identify as “i,” “me,” or “mine.” even becoming attached to our identity as a yogi can become a source of dukkha if we de- velop a holier-than-thou attitude that causes us to see ourselves as separate and superior to others. mindfulness shows how one creates a sense of self through reactivity, belief patterns, and dramatizing story lines. it can hap- pen in the instant a student uses her mat to mark out her spot in the practice room. the more attached we are to our stories of self, the more tension and suffering we create, but it’s not until we really see this for ourselves that any opening can occur. fourth foundation: dharmas mindfulness of the dharmas provides the context for bringing mind- fulness to specific mental qualities, and analyzing experience into cat- egories that constitute core aspects of the Buddha’s dharma, or teach- ing. these classifications are not in themselves the objects of medita- tion, but are frameworks or points of reference to be applied through contemplation to whatever experiences arise while practicing. the dharmas listed in the Satipatthana Sutta, or Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, are the five hindrances, five ag- gregates, six sense-spheres, seven factors of awakening, and the four noble truths. one can contemplate these dharmas while practicing asanas, but i find that for most practitioners it’s too easy to fall into abstraction or intellectualization, unless they al- ready have a mature mindfulness practice. ➢ page 98 Online Q&A: Frank Jude Boccio will answer your questions about Yoga and Buddhism at www.shambhalasun.com.