It’s deliciously silly isn’t it? But there is a point. When it popped into my head I was discussing the merits, or otherwise, of a Sanskrit name with some friends over lunch. The general conclusion was that you could be called anything in Sanskrit and not actually know what it meant (unless you happen to google it!) and I just happened to come up with this as an example.
The incongruity of the two things got me thinking about non-attachment. My lesson this week is aparigraha (thanks to Jackie Dumaine), which is translated as non-attachment or non-acquisitiveness. Traditionally, this referred to wealth, worldly possessions and sensual pleasure but it can be so much more. For instance, non-attachment to outcomes (non-controlling), or in the case of a butterfly’s scrotum, to a preconceived notion about what should be juxtaposed to what!
In relation to body image, aparigraha is very powerful. We have preconceived ideas about what we look like and how that relates to an ‘ideal’. We tell ourselves stories about our bodies – we’re too fat, I’ve got fat thighs, my life will be x,y,z when I’ve lost x number of kilos/pounds. Sometimes we’re very strongly attached to these stories and ideals but are they really true and are they serving you? Satya, or truth, comes into play here as well.
One of the most powerful tools I used in my journey to becoming healthy and actually loving the skin I’m in was to impartially observe the ‘truths’ I told myself – on a daily and sometimes hourly basis – about my body. I used to bombard my cells with constant negative images, thoughts and feelings.
Letting go of stories that are no longer serving you is hugely empowering. It opens doors to new opportunities. My body shape hasn’t really changed a great deal. Yes I’ve removed a lot of excess stored fat that was no longer serving me but for a long time, regardless of that reduction in size, I just couldn’t see it. I still bombarded myself with stories like ‘I’ve got fat thighs’, ‘it’s just the way I’m made’, ‘I’ll have a great summer next year because I’ll be able to wear…’ You get the picture.
Once I set about examining these untruths, writing new stories, and in fact detaching myself from any need to write stories at all, I was able to find peace in my own skin and actually maintain a healthy weight with ease. I am. How powerful is that concept?
On a daily basis I say to myself how much I love the skin I’m in, how fantastic, alive, healthy, fit and vibrant my amazing body is. And I mean it. Because I am. Being present, observing the moment, delighting in the gift that is life releases you from routinely punishing yourself because you don’t fit into someone else’s version of ‘ideal’.
Non-attachment is also about letting go of the need to control the outcome. When it comes to body image, that means letting go of an ideal and then eating, or starving yourself, to supposedly attain it. I eat to nourish my body, and my soul, right now. As I am. If that means I’m not hungry, then I don’t eat. At the moment the thought of meat just turns my stomach, so I’ve been eating vegetarian foods and only eggs or cheese when my body asks for that type of protein. Some days I eat more and some days I eat less.
It’s an evolving thing. The more I practice just ‘being’, detaching from the outcome – whether that’s to do with what I eat or the work that I’m doing – the easier it becomes.
I described my relationship to a friend today in relation to aparigraha. While we’re like two small stones that have rolled and bounced and rubbed the rough edges off one another over the years through the river of life, we form part of the river bed, a unit yet unattached, separate entities that have molded to sit softly together. Our strength comes from, among other things, just being together without stressing about the outcome or the future. What will be, will be.
Non-attachment can be a very powerful tool. All hail the butterfly scrotum!