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I learned a lesson from a coat. Buying it cost me money, but losing it was priceless.
It was a maroon, down, three quarter length Mountain Hardware coat that I ordered online. It was the end of the season so it was fifty percent off. I really wanted it in black but they didn't have my size. I settled for the maroon color thinking, "Gee I am not crazy about the color, but it's such a good deal and I need a lightweight warm jacket....I can't pass it up."
The first day I wore it I still wasn't crazy about the color, but the coat served it's purpose.
I got so many compliments on my coat that day that my opinion began to change. Initially, my coat was just serving a purpose as an inexpensive, lightweight and warm covering for my body. After people began to tell me how great I looked in my maroon coat, it began to take on a whole new meaning.
Every time I wore that coat, I got attention. People would say, "Ooooh, I LOVE your coat! Where did you get it? The color is great! It has such a flattering fit! It looks so good on you!"
Before long, I would put on my coat and feel like a million bucks. I thought I was so cool in my coat. I remember passing a mirror and thinking, "Wow, I am so good at picking out coats. Everyone wants this coat!" I was so proud of myself in that coat. Then I thought, "Geeze Cara, it's a coat for God's sakes! Get over yourself".
Soon after I had the too big for my britches moment, I went to put on my really awesome maroon coat that was just as cool as me, and it was nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere and retraced my steps, but it was gone.
As I searched for the coat, I felt two conflicting emotions. One was disappointment because I was attached to my coat, it brought me attention and made me look great.
The other emotion I had was relief. I realized that I had identified so strongly with my coat that I began to confuse the lightweight and warm covering for my body with who I was. Somehow I had infused that coat with my sense of self. When I was wearing it, I thought I was so cool! I was acting ridiculous and losing my coat was a reminder to me that a material thing doesn't change who I am. I was relieved to find that I was still the same person even without that coat.
The word identification comes from a latin word that means, "to make the same". When we identify with our material possessions, we are giving them a sense of ourselves. In essence we are making them the same as us. I did that with my coat.
We can identify with more than just our material possessions. Infusing our sense of self onto our jobs, our bodies, our financial status, or even our beliefs can cause us to feel a strong and unhealthy attachment to them. When we use our possessions to define ourselves, we confuse those possessions with who we are.
Our ego will spend a ton of energy trying to defend and hold onto the possessions that we have identified with. This can be exhausting, stressful, and pointless because sooner or later, in life or in death, we have to give them all up.
In A New Earth; Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, Ekhart Tolle says, " Letting go of attachment to things is impossible. Don't even try. Attachment to things drops away only when you no longer seek to find yourself in them."
When our possessions no longer define us, we realize that they are just things that we have in our lives right now. According to Tolle, with this knowledge, we will see that deep inside and beyond our thinking mind, every single one of us possesses "all the things that truly matter - beauty, love,creativity, joy and inner peace".
With this in mind, I can ask myself, "Without my really cool coat...am I still really cool?"
My answer, "Yes I am".
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras