Maris Degener

Aparigraha in an Airport

Maris Degener
Aparigraha in an Airport

As I write this post, I’m sitting in an airport. My plane should be boarding right now, headed off to Canada. Instead, it won’t be taking off for at least three more hours.

To be completely honest, I have not yet had a yogic breakthrough in this situation yet. No moment of clarity, no zen around the situation, not even surrender to the uncontrollable. Instead, I have an all-too-familiar lump of anxiety in my throat, and a worry sitting in my stomach like a rock.

Tomorrow at 8:00am, I’ll be standing in front of an audience of over a thousand people from all over the world, gathered to discuss leadership, community, and empowerment. Sitting 981 miles away, I’m struggling to feel connected to the excitement of tomorrow. This is something I’ve looked forward to for months, eagerly prepared for, and quite literally been dreaming about since the opportunity arose this past December.

And suddenly, it feels like the Universe has swept in as if to say, “You thought this would be easy, didja?”

Look, the Universe and I have been tight for awhile now. I’ve gotten familiar with its language and the way it sends its messages: coincidences that are a little too coincidental, challenges that just so happen to reflect where I need it most, opportunities that show up just when I ask for them. And for the past week or so, I’ve been watching the news about the literal Polar Vortex sweeping the nation and thought, “C’mon Universe, do me a solid. Don’t use this for a lesson, please.”

One of my teachers once said that the yoga pose we avoid the most is the one we most need to practice. The obstacles that we dread encountering the most hold the most potential for learning and growth: but they certainly aren’t easy to swallow.

I love traveling, but I hate traveling. And by that I mean, if I could pick a superpower, it would be teleportation. I love seeing and experiencing new places, with their vibrant cultures, cuisines, and sights. But boy, do I hate the process of getting where I’m going. Cars have given me both anxiety and motion sickness since my first ride in them, and after having my car totaled in an accident earlier this year, I’m even less fond of them. And flying has also never been a favorite for me…why?

Oh, because I’m always worried that my flight will be cancelled or delayed just when it’s most inconvenient, of course.

My last trip to Canada ended with a cancellation of my flight back home, resulting in a whirlwind of new flights and routes that had me traveling til the wee hours of the early morning. So headed into my travels today I thought, no way I’ll hit trouble this time around, right?

Well, challenge the Universe and it surely will deliver.

I know I am often the source of my own suffering: how we react to challenges are the true measure of the amount of suffering we extract from any given situation. And in situations like this, I tend to have an idea of what exactly it is that is generating my suffering (once the snarky voice in my head stops saying, Yeah, it’s the delayed flight, dummy). In this situation, I have a pretty good idea that I really challenged the Universe this time around.

One of my intentions for the month of February is to embody the spirit of non-attachment. Aparigraha is one of the teachings of yoga: non-possessiveness or non-grasping. It’s always been something I struggle with. I have often struggled with overly attaching myself to routine, appearance, identities, an experiencing great fear when those things change (as they always do). In fact, one of the first things I wrote about on my blog (way back when), was my hair. 

While it may seem vain on the surface, my hair was my security blanket. It was long and thick and the thing I got complimented on the most growing up. It was something I could hide behind. When I got sick, a lot of it fell out. It was one of the first physical signs I paid attention to, something that said, “Hey! Your body, spirit, and soul are suffering right now! Real damage is happening!” 

Even so, for years I clung onto its length. Until finally, I chopped it all off with the help of my friend Annie my junior year of high school. Well, a few weeks ago I realized I was clinging on again. I’d mentioned cutting my hair to some folks, and with pure intentions they all said, “But it’s finally long again! Don’t cut it off!”

So, I figured, might as well really lean into my intention this month, right? I walked into a salon and told the hairstylist to take it all off.


Of course, this offered me a light and free sense of assurance that I was rightly on my yogic path. I set out on an intention and conquered it in a big way. But, my friend Misha once said to me words that have now come back to bite me squarely in my ass:

“Just when you think you’re enlightened!”

All of this is a reminder that while I have come far on my journey, there is still further to go. My attachment to routine and the expectable still runs deep, there’s no denying that. And my work now lies in embracing what this…opportunity has to offer. My work is to notice the discomfort, acknowledge it, trust it, and allow it to pass.

And hopefully, hopefully make it to Canada on time.