Attachment is that which follows identification with pleasurable experiences. sutra 2.7
Pretty straightforward sutra, right? The tricky part of attachment is how sneaky it is in our lives. The action/object/tendency we’re attached to starts out as a simple moment of joy. And then we repeat the action seeking the same positive experience it originally created. Next thing you know, we become attached to the experience triggered by the object/action/tendency. And then the attachment becomes so ingrained in us and we can’t imagine life without the action/object/tendency. It’s a sneaky, vicious cycle.
The easiest example I can think of is coffee (or whatever your wake-up beverage of choice is). I visit Starbucks almost every morning. By stating this, clearly it appears I am attached to my morning coffee. Well I can be for sure and so are many, many, many others I’ve observed. For me, it’s not so much the caffeine I am attached to (because I do 1/2 decaf and some days just go without the Starbucks visit). It’s more of the warm sensation/experience coffee offers my body (physical attachment). I also enjoy sitting in Starbucks writing…the environment seems to help get my creative juices flowing (mental attachment).
Though when I was on the Dharma diet during my Dharma Mittra 500-hour yoga teacher training last Fall, coffee was banned. My morning ritual became hot water with lemon and a special Dharma smoothie. The first few days were tough but I actually got really used to the hot water lemon concoction —it gave me the warming sensation. I also discovered that not only was I saving $2 a day by not going to Starbucks (plus the gas money), I had more time in the mornings to sit for meditation, writing, or whatever I wanted to do. And that’s the sneaky part of attachment…when we start to clearly see their hold on us, we realize how much of our time, energy and resources we are sacrificing in exchange for great hopes of a repeat pleasurable experience. We start to believe we need it to make us happy and we are willing to do whatever it takes.
Inside the Yoga Sutras (p. 110) elaborates on sutra 2.7. “Attachments are limitations that always result in deepening or maintaining ignorance (avidya). They are cravings that deny the peace and joy of our Self by insisting that outside experiences are the root of happiness.”
The Yoga Sutras state it. The Buddha said it. We have everything we need inside ourselves to be happy. Yet in this consumer-driven materialistic world, how can we ever experience this? My suggestion…try eliminating for 7 days just one thing that you do daily/eat daily/drink daily/etc. Observe how you feel without it. Observe what you do in lieu of it. Observe the positive and negative changes it has on your physical body. Observe your emotional state. Pay attention. You might discover you’re happier and healthier without it.