I am attached to my body.
This might seem like an obvious statement (most of us are pretty attached), but it’s actually something I’ve been working to let go of for a long, long time. Not my body, the attachment that is. My body comes in real handy when I have to lift the baby from his crib, go to the grocery store, or demonstrate a posture in class. All sorts of spiritual gurus and leaders tout the benefits of practicing non-attachment, but it’s so much harder than anything I’ve worked towards, including my undergraduate degree, passing the NCTMB, learning a solid Chataranga, or even the still-ellusive handstand.
Non-attachment is a real bitch.
So anyway, several years into this process, I’m still pretty attached to my body, and lately it’s been grossly self-evident. Last week I started off my Tuesday with my first ever mammography. Then on Wednesday I had an MRI of my left knee done (the same knee with the injury that ended my dance career in 2000), followed by a CT of my left ankle, which I have now broken twice in the same spot, once in 1989 and again when pregnant with my son in August of 2009. Needless to say I was feeling tremendously attached to the outcome of all these diagnostic procedures, and began to experience intense empathy for my body’s soft tissue.
At some point by Thursday I was in the full throws of what-if’s. What if I can’t do massage work this summer? What if I can’t teach yoga? What if I can’t practice myself? What if I have a malignant breast tumor ? What if, what if, what if…
I began to get upset. I worked myself into a emotional tizzy. My knee began to hurt, my ankle started to swell, and in my agitated limbic state, the area of discomfort on my right breast started to grow. All in a matter of moments. Fuck, I thought. I’m so super attached to my body! This expletive was quickly followed by another in the form of: Shit! I’m trying not to swear!
Hang on, let’s just pause for a moment. I would like to state for the record that in the last year I have given up all meat and seafood, alcohol, and most dairy products. Despite having a partner who would like it better if we both gave up stimulants and bad language… I must continue to swear while eating chocolate and drinking coffee just to keep myself interesting to other people.
Anyway, I started to think about my physical self, my physical life, work and play, and what it would be like to loose temporarily or permantely my athletic ways of navigating through the world. Sadness and panic rushed into my chest. Everything got tighter, and I began to feel a little wheezy. This was an absolutely amazing moment.
I realized that however I might deny it to myself or others, I am profoundly caught up in my yoga body, which is really just a newer, more insidious version of my old dancer body- and all its issues. As it turns out, my sense of self is directly tied into what I can do with my body, and my body has literally grown into who I am and how I support myself and my family. Some of this is simply fact: as in, I need my hands, fingers and elbows to do good deep tissue work. But some of this is really old shit I need to let go of: like, I must not be a good yogi if I can’t do adho mukha vrkasana.
So, time to check that attachment thing again, and recommit to thinking outside the musculoskeletal box! After all there are plenty of yoga poses you can do with one good knee, or ankle, or boob.
And just when I think I’ve gone beyond the need for a perfect Chatarunga, I catch myself thinking, well my Bird of Paradise has gotten really good lately! And off it goes- my mind and it’s monkey.
Ah well, one un-attached foot in front of the other. One day at at time.