This weekend I taught essential yoga theory to a wonderful group of yoga teachers and soon to be yoga teachers – some experienced yogis, some not so experienced. Yoga theory is literally impossible to teach in the abstract. It is also hard to teach yoga theory without sounding like you are examining your own belly button fluff. As a result, I found myself falling back on some of my own lack of enlightenment experiences to illustrate the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
Some of you might remember my struggle with reconciling ahimsa, the yoga doctrine that encourages people to avoid causing harm or pain to other living creatures, with wearing my Gran’s fur coat and leather shoes generally.
One of the things that I struggle with is my love for collecting shoes. We all have a Thing that we like to collect. My husband collects enamel badges of comic book and cartoon characters, tin clockwork toys and penguin soft toys. My children collect small plastic expensive Things that are regularly fed into the DVD player and two of every bit of Harry Potter memorabilia that an Australian newspaper has been selling over the last week or so.
(If you walk past our house you will hear me yelling at the Minx to put the wand down before she puts someone’s eye out with it.)
To me, shoe collecting is one of my flaws as well as one of the things that makes me happy. It is my Thing. While my children have tried to lay claim to my shoes, the higher heels have thwarted them.
I get a bit twitchy when the kids wear my heels which tends to suggest, sadly, that I am becoming more attached to Things than my children.
Then there is my continued persistent drooling over shoes. For example, despite having at least 4 pairs of Gianmarco Lorenzi shoes when my daily eBay search throws up a show stopping pair of double platforms like these I still look at them lustfully:
and think to myself – I can afford $650.00. Of course I can’t afford $650.00 and, in fact, it would be complete insanity for me to spend $650 on a pair of shoes. But I want to very much.
This to me seems to be quite at odds with aparigraha: the principle of non-grasping and non-possessiveness. According to the Yoga Sutras (and mental health practitioners everywhere) the more we practice not being attached to Things, the more happy and contented we will be.
So collecting Things and wanting things is the anthithesis and the arch-enemy of aparigraha and not good right?
Look at these shiny red heels though (deep breath)
Would it be different if I hung them on the wall and called them art?
What Things do you collect? How would you feel about giving them up?
With particular thanks to Tracey and Chrissy for some of your insights and for your energy yesterday.