A joy to think about: Seeing wonderful pictures of my granddaughter playing in the rain.  It's sort of two joys--one is the second-hand relived pleasure of doing that myself, a joy that's contagious from seeing her feeling it.  I can think of that as a pure joy without attachment--the pleasure of the senses without clinging, something I could leave without any need to hold on to it. But the joy of Julianne herself is a very deep attachment. I don't expect to be able to loosen the bonds of attachment to people I love, least of all her, any time soon. It's very clear to me since I don't get to be with her all the time, and she changes so quickly at her age (4) that I know that the next time I see her, she'll already be a different child. Although it is so very hard, I do have to work at loving her like playing in the rain--wonderful when it happens but letting go when it changes. 

So how to work with attachment? I'm taking lessons from what I've read about working with negative emotions, oddly enough. The first thing is to become aware of the problems of attachment, the inevitable problems it causes for me and others. I can remember relationships long ago  that were messed up because I was clingy and needy. I can remember the feeling that I wouldn't exist if the person I was attached to left me.  It made me insatiable and made them trapped. And that can go on not just in romantic relationships but in families. I think we've all known or read about the mother who kept her children too close...Attachment is not the same as love or joy, because when I'm attached, I want to hold a person or place or object or event too close, so close i suffocate the object of my attachment and myself. It can only lead to suffering. 

But, as with anger, knowing that a feeling is problematic is not the same as not feeling it. I can't get rid of it just by pretending I don't feel it. Just as suppressed anger comes out in spite of all my efforts to keep the lid on it, so will attachment reach out its tentacles if I try to deal with it by denying it. 

I have to face my feeling, bring it into the daylight of my full attention. I have to let myself experience with that hopeless desire feels like, the longing to hold on to a child who will grow up, a friend who will move away, a flower that will fall off the branch, a body that will get older and die. I have to see how much I want to hold on, how impossible it is to hold on, and how much it hurts to let go. I really have to let myself face that clinging and that pain. And then I can let go.

Anyway, this is how I'm trying to work with attachment.


mamculuna: (Default)

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