Meditation on Bondage and Freedom

 

In a society that worships individualism and freedom, binding with other people gets really tricky. Relationships are seen as threatening to one’s freedom and for some of us, they truly are because we are co-dependents.

I am a co-dependent person who has battled and is likely to battle a tendency toward codependency all my life.

You see for co-dependents, it’s like any other addiction, where other people might be able to safely enjoy having a few beers, the alcoholic cannot. For codependents, if we are not REALLY conscious and watchful of our patterns, when we form relationships, we start to obsess in them. We lose ourselves to them. Just how we do that varies by individual, but there are some clear patterns.  If you’re interested in assessing whether you might be codependent or be in a relationship with someone who is, this link is a great resource.  http://coda.org/index.cfm/meeting-materials1/patterns-and-characteristics-2011/

Back to the yoga of it all.  First, why would we want to bind at all?  Well, if you’re not yet free, then you don’t.  But in the yoga philosophy to which I subscribe,  which encompasses a couple of  variations on Tantric philosophy,  the belief system goes that freedom and oneness is built in.  We’re born that way. Free and one. Spending this human lifetime trying to get free and one, is like trying to go back into the womb.  It’s where you came from. It’s not where you’re going.  The universe says the same thing if you bother to look. We started simple. Single-celled organisms and such.  We’re getting more and more complex and diverse, not simpler.  Even strict creationists and biblical literalists should be able to agree on that point.  Genesis does not disagree.

Now, if the fact that we are all one and in this together isn’t obvious to you, if you don’t hear it and say, “well, duh!”,  then you’ll need to keep working on that first. But, if you’re there, then you’re ready to think and act on the idea that what makes us who and what we are is with whom and what we choose to bind ourselves.

What clothes do you like? What art and music do you like?  What people do you choose as friends and lovers? Where do you like to live? To travel?  How do you choose to pray and worship?

I like LOTS of things. I like to try on many different styles of clothing, art, music and people. But the stuff that sticks, my FAVORITES are the ones are the ones to which I will bind myself.

The key to healthfully binding with another person in a relationship or even successfully integrating all the parts of yourself is the same as doing a beautiful, healthy binding pose in your asana (physical yoga) practice.

First, you must not attempt to bind with something you are not already close to. Work on getting close first.  If you have to reach and pull too much to make the bind happen, then you are not ready to bind.  It will be a struggle the entire pose, and when it comes time to release that pose, You will spring out of it with such velocity that you may hurt yourself and anyone else who is around you.

In the story of “The Little Prince”,  the fox teaches the little prince the process, the joys and the risks of forming relationships.  It’s an excellent book cover to cover, but this is one of my favorite chapters.  The fox asks the boy to tame him because he understand that it is the friendships we form that infuse life with meaning.  But he explains that they can’t be friends all at once.  The boy will need to come, preferably at the same time each day, and just sit within eyeshot and earshot of the fox without speaking.  In time, the boy will leave some food for the fox perhaps.  The safe distance between them will gradually decrease and the boy will be able to pet the fox.

Too often, we codependents skip this process. We run straight up to the boy and say “Pet me!” or we run to the wild fox and scare it away. In a rush to get bound because we are relationship addicts, we ignore the time and work it takes to build a healthy one.

Second, if you cannot keep your heart open in both the front and the back while bound,  you are not ready to bind.  If you’re squeezing in your chest and only able to maintain the bind with your chest turned toward the floor, then you are cutting off the future.  You’re obsessing.  The object of your binding has become all consuming. You only want to listen to THAT band. You only want to see that particular picture. You start wearing only black or only Abercrombie (lord help).  You want to spend all your time with just that one person. You can’t imagine a future in which you might like something else. If you’re pinching between your shoulders in the back, that would be akin to a relationship in which all previous things you loved were tossed out.  You declare everything preceding this particular band or person or hairstyle inferior and stupid.  You cut off your connection to where you’ve been, start neglecting prior friendships that were important to you.

Lastly, I have found out, the hard way, that you will exit a bind with exactly as much grace with which you entered and held it.  If you had to yank and pull yourself in, you’ll catapult out.  If you got too comfy and complacent there, you’ll forget that you even CAN let go.  I’ve seen people fall on their faces any number of times because they forget that when they lose their balance, they could just let go of their leg.

All of the memes that suggest people coming out of relationships be independent really rankle me. I suppose there is wisdom in that for the sickest codependents among us. Some time of tee totaling. For some, yoga IS wearing all white and chanting one verse and doing the same 26 poses everyday at the same time in the same room at the same temperature and humidity with the same people or completely alone.

That is NOT my practice.  That’s not what I’m on this planet to do.  I’m very clear about that.  Those are practices to get you back to “one”.  For me, one is “well, duh!”  It’s where I started.  It’s not where I’m going. So I’ll be looking to wear colorful clothing and sing lots of songs and do many, many different poses and skillfully bind with the things and PEOPLE that are meant for me in a way that leaves my heart open all around.

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