Last night before going to bed, I realized that the very meaningful ring I always wear on my right hand was suddenly not there. I had been to yoga class earlier that evening, and as I slowly replayed that part of class when I took off the ring and placed it on the floor in order to do a headstand, I cringed. Had I forgotten to put it back on?! Had someone bumped it when they came out of their pose and caused it to roll away? Could it be lying on the floor unseen in the shadows?
What surprised me most about the realization that my ring was missing was how fast my nemesis, Captain Negativity, swept in and handed me a hasty and convenient conclusion: someone in class had stolen it. (As my boyfriend pointed out, “Isn’t stealing contrary to the whole yoga thing?”) No, I’d already decided that someone other than myself was responsible for its disappearance.
As I let my “story” carry me far, far away to a dark and very un-yoga-like place, I repeated to myself all of the reasons why this ring was so important to me:
1. I had paid a lot for it.
2. I bought it for myself after a painful breakup.
3. It was a symbol of my individuality and strength.
4. It reminded me of my ability to love again.
5. It made me feel empowered.
As I sat on the floor with the contents of my purse spread all around me (just to prove a point that my life was most definitely in shambles –oh, the drama!), my boyfriend suggested that perhaps a piece of jewelry shouldn’t be packed with quite so much meaning. Yes, why had I let the ring take on so much significance? When all was said and done, it was simply just an object. My boyfriend then asked me: Shouldn’t you feel strength, individuality, empowerment, and love when you look in the mirror?
Hmmm. Maybe he had a point.
We all slip back to our attachments when we are feeling less than our complete selves…when we’re feeling sad, weak, or tired. And while Buddhist philosophy teaches us that practicing non-attachment is essential to end our suffering, we continue to attach ourselves to things all the time. Ask yourself: what material thing do you attach unnecessary meaning to? Your purse? Your watch? The jacket you just paid a lot for?
When my mother called me to tell me that she’d found my ring on the window sill above their kitchen sink, I wiped the egg from my face. I was relieved to discover that the ring had been “found” but I was even more grateful that the truth had found its way back to me. The truth being that we will never grow if we displace or transfer our emotions and feelings to anything other than ourselves. We must always trust that there is room for those in our hearts.