Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Non-attachment is the practice of recognizing and letting go of our emotional attachments. There's much confusion to be had, as at first glance it sounds as if caring itself is attachment. It's more and less complicated than that.
I no longer want to suffer. Sounds like a statement we'd all agree on but we create our own suffering time and again. I've indulged in angry fantasies for most of my life. I've filled my mind with thoughts of revenge, none of which have I've acted on. I built up the anger, embraced it. I kept it to myself as if something to be proud of. It put me on a pedestal and made me a victim. Only in my mind did I have the power to crush those who hurt me. The power to destroy the 'obstacles' before me. There came a time when the pain was too much to bear. I was powerless and the reality of that overwhelmed me. I could no longer deny that I was not in control. I couldn't take it any more, so I told myself to let it go. To not be upset with powerlessness. To accept it. Taking that attitude toward a major event in my life made it easy to see how useful it was regarding everyday things. I'm not in control of how full or noisy the bus will be. I have no control over what job I am offered, beyond doing my best, the decision is not up to me. I can't make anyone love me. I can't make them spend their time with me. Then what can I control? What amidst this chaos can I influence at all?
I can influence myself. The one thing that's always constant in an ever changing world. My consciousness exists and at its core is potential, at its core is pure awareness. It's this force within me that makes experience possible. I am the vessel and my mind the aperture, adjusting here and there to zoom in or zoom out, to let in more or less light. At my core is stillness and it's not sad or meaningless. It is filled with bliss. Bliss is an appropriate word. I'd never quite understood it before. I've felt the bliss of letting go, of wanting nothing and loving everything. I found this while doing research into non-attachment.
"This is why meditation is good practice in non-attachment, because to do something boring, you have to become unattached to the ideas about boredom, suffering, discomfort, entertainment, what's interesting, and so on.
When you're meditating and you get lost in a little imaginary conversation with someone, and then you realize you have stopped focusing on your mantra, you don't want to stop imagining this conversation right in the middle of it. You're attached to the conversation. But you pull your attention away from it (detach) and return to your mantra. Over and over again."
This was particularly meaningful to me. I felt changed as I read the words; "you have to become unattached to the ideas about boredom". I felt the ideas I held about boredom slip away. I recognized then how much of an obstacle the idea of boredom has been to my meditation. By not forming a concept of boredom, but dissociating from the idea that to sit and do nothing is boring I've recognized that doing 'nothing' leaves plenty of room for 'something' to happen. Even if that something is as simple as feeling my heart beat or body breathe.
You don't have to meditate at all. You just have to be aware of your thoughts. When you feel your emotions take off on a tangent as you follow a series of thoughts, become aware that you've been lost. You've stepped out of your surroundings and into your mind. Come back. It may take time to recognize, but most of the day dreams we have serve no useful purpose. Honestly. Just cut them short mid-sentence. You may feel compelled to complete the thought you are having but don't. This is how you practice both mindfulness and non-attachment. It's calming to step out of our mind and into the moment we are currently living.
Think on impermanence. Any and all feelings I have will pass. Any fear and stress, embarrassment, sorrow and joy. It all passes by. Yet while in the midst of feeling bad we tend to think it's meaningful. We're determined to ask why, and give blame. I'm nervous for my interview. I'm embarrassed by what other people think. But that's not exactly true. They may seem to be the cause our feelings, but it's our perspective which determines how those things make us feel. Other people face those same things with ease. They're human too. Their lack of fear does not stem from some inherent quality which they possess and you do not. Attitudes can change. Our minds can evolve.
If my happiness depends on the world working in my favor then I'll always be disappointed. Tossed and turned by unseen forces. Instead I've decided to look at the world without expectation so that I may appreciate all it has to offer. When faced with pain, uncertainty or disappointment, I will think of my body. I'll think about how great it is to live.
I strive not to be excited or disappointed with my job, my health, and my relationships. I'll appreciate good fortune, but I'll wait until it happens. That's how excitement and mindfulness differ. Excitement sets you up for disappointment, it colors an experience you have yet to live.
I want to see the world clearly. We all like to think 'we have an open mind', but there's so much we unknowingly cling to. It's not difficult to recognize how we're attached to possessions but it's difficult to see how we're attached to ideas. We often cling to the opinions we've formed of ourselves and those around us. Of the world itself. Defining the world through having opinions is meant to bring us comfort for we're fearful of uncertainty. The 'comfort' they bring us pales in comparison to the peace of acceptance. Opinions separate us from the world, they dull our minds and put limitations on what we're willing to experience. By accepting uncertainty we're more likely to both see and seize opportunities which may have gone unnoticed before. We can no longer say "I'm not that type of person" when we cease to judge ourselves.
I don't want to spend time guessing how a new experience will feel. I want to live in this moment and have no expectations, no preconceptions. I want to surrender to my complete and utter ignorance about the future and the nature of reality. I am The Fool as they say. Such as in the Tarot, the true realization that you know nothing, the abandonment of old ideas. The beginning and the end, for it is consciousness itself that lives, all those thoughts, those ideas, nothing but shadows.
I want to let go of opinions. I want to live and experience life. I want to recognize and be aware of every little thing that has a positive or negative affect on me. I want to know why. I'm on a noisy crowded bus, I feel bothered, but why, because of my desire for the circumstance to change. Because the circumstance in which I find myself isn't as easy and predictable as I would like it to be. What's causing me to suffer then, the noisy people on the bus or my desires about how I would prefer things to be. I rarely have the power to change every detail of my surroundings but at any given moment I can change the way I think.
In nearly any situation it's my mind that matters most. My mind that guides me to experience something as good or bad. Reality can only be seen when I seek inner peace. When I accept the moment as it is. When I cut myself off mid sentence during those imaginary conversations and return to what is happening.
Feel yourself now, breathe deep, and know there is no moment but this one. There is no fear to be had. There is simple beauty and contentment now, whether you're at home or at work, alone or with others. There is stillness within you.