The word "sucks" isn't exactly eloquent; however, it does describe my message perfectly, so please excuse the uncouth nature of the word!
The real reason I'm using the word at all comes from an experience my brother had a couple of years ago when he was diagnosed with Beckett cancer, a rare form of carcinoma. On a cold snowy day at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Minneapolis, he sat with an oncologist to receive the news of exactly how rare his type of cancer was and its aggressive nature. My brother reflected on this information--sitting for a few moments upon hearing the shocking news, closing his eyes, taking a really, really deep breath, and then simply saying, "Well that sucks! What's the plan?"
He explained matter-of-factly that he realized there was not a thing he could do at that time about having contracted cancer. He could either waste his time and emotions on how unfair it was, asking why it had happened to him, blah, blah, blah, blah... or admit what he was feeling in the moment and move on.
Although my brother is the farthest thing from being a yogi, he was describing non-attachment perfectly.
So, what is non-attachment? And when do we need to practice it?
Recently, my personal Facebook account was unceremoniously disabled by Facebook. I received no notification that it was going to happen, nor any information about why the seemly arbitrary decision was made. Multiple efforts seeking an explanation were met with redundant emails stating that the decision was final. I would not be getting my personal Facebook account back, they said. Period!
So what did I say? "Well, that sucks!" Have I moved on gracefully, releasing my attachment to seven years’ worth of pictures and posts, let alone thousands of friends? Well, to be honest... I'm still mentally kicking and screaming.
As a longtime metaphysician, I do believe there are lessons in this experience for me, and maybe for you as well...
For one thing, now that I have a few weeks of emotional distance from what seemed so darn unfair, I'm getting some perspective. I didn't lose a breast or lung, which two of my friends are currently going through. I haven’t carried a baby for months only to miscarry. Now those things… THOSE things are unfair! I'm not on the brink of bankruptcy, my heart is not broken from a spouse cheating on me, and I'm not homeless. By comparison, what the heck do I have to complain about?
The truth is we get attached to lots of things—large and small—people, possessions, and points of view!
A spiritual teacher of mine once said, "We get attached to our fingernails!" Think about it! If you chip or break a fingernail, our first response is almost always, "Oh darn it!" (Okay, men, you might not be as attached to your fingernails; however if you do break one and it really hurts, would you be willing to admit that your expletive might be stronger than "darn"?). It's a fingernail! And yet, we have a certain attachment to even the small things!
So how do we overcome having attachments to bigger things, like the people we love, the things we have worked so hard to have, and the promises we believe we can count on?
Let's use the acronym S.U.C.K.S. to look at five ways we can begin to practice non-attachment.
Surrender the need for control or having things your way! Ha! This could easily be accompanied by the hashtag #EasierSaidThanDone. In Life Coaching, when we say "surrender," it does not mean to "give up." Rather, it directs or invites us to release the addiction or need for something to be the way it is "fixed" in our minds.
Consider this effective Life Coaching technique: Imagine that you are holding the nicest writing instrument you have ever seen. Think about how nice it feels in your hand and how smoothly it writes. Feel its smooth curves between your fingers. Now imagine someone gives you the suggestion to drop the pen. Due to the beauty of the pen (and your attachment to having that pen) you might hesitate a moment. However, in the end, you can choose to make a conscious decision to release what you're holding in your hand, and it falls easily away from your grip.
You can do this exact same exercise with a thought or feeling. Imagine you're holding a thought or emotion in your mind and give yourself the invitation to drop it—to surrender and release it. The thought, or attachment to the thought, can drop away as easily as the pen dropped from your hand. Just as you have the option to pick up the pen again, you can pick up the thought or emotion or choose to leave it behind forever.
To surrender any kind of attachment is the decision!
Understanding "universal themes" can help bring perspective to our attachments. Common experiences or karmic lessons fall under the umbrella of "universal themes." At one time or another, we are likely to fall in love, get our heart broken, think that we can't live without the person or thing we were attached to (in love with or addicted to), and eventually come to realize that we can start again... that we can love again. This cycle of attaching, disconnecting, reconciling, and starting over again is often known as the "Hero's Journey."
The process of becoming attached or non-attached requires a Hero’s Journey. There is a "call" that what is happening (or not happening) in our life is not working. We then begin the journey of looking for an answer or a new path; sometimes we need a teacher, and sometimes we discover that our teacher is within. There is a struggle and then a victory or outcome, and we evolve to a new season or way of life.
Non-attachment is a journey, and we must be the hero of our journey to release what does not serve us.
Consciously Process & Release
When we are attached or addicted to something, it is a conscious choice to release it! Though initially the following may seem to be an oversimplification, it is actually another very powerful Life Coaching technique.
Imagine you are very attached to a certain individual or possibly to a thought about the way you want something to be. Ask yourself this question:
COULD I let go of my attachment to this person, thought, or situation?
Notice the word is COULD, not would!
Ask the question again: COULD you let go? The truth is that yes, you could.
Now the REAL question is would you be willing?
Would you be WILLING to let go of your attachment to this person or to this thought?
A Course In Miracles, scribed by Helen Schucman, teaches us that a “little willingness” moves mountains and creates miracles. Becoming unattached to someone or something requires willingness.
The most potent question you can ask yourself, once you have gotten the internal "call," that deep inner knowing, that something needs to change is: Am I willing to release this person or this thought?
It's a decision! You can release what you are attached to if you are willing to do so. Once you come to a place of willingness, the process of non-attachment becomes achievable. Even when there is a mental willingness, there may be a tug-of-war between what your mind is willing to do and your heart is able to do. Again, this is a time to refer back to "universal themes." We must be willing to experience love, heartbreak, non-attachment, and reconciliation to start the process of evolution and growth.
Kindness above all things!
The Dali Lama says it best, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
When going through the process of releasing something—the process of non-attachment and letting go—we must be kind with ourselves and to others. Having an attachment to anything is like having an emotional or spiritual fish hook directly connected into our heart or mind– OR BOTH! Disengaging a hook that has landed deep in our hearts or minds must be a kind and compassionate process to reduce the damage.
Consider this visual: When removing a fish hook, you can do it with haste and violence, further ripping the vulnerable flesh surrounding the hook. This is attachment. Or you can gently, gracefully, patiently remove the hook and leave little or no evidence that there was a barb of any kind in the precious creature destined to give up life so we may have sustenance. (Vegans please forgive my analogy. It is not meant to offend you in any way). The point is that removing a hook or attachment requires patience and grace!
Spiritual lessons come in many forms!
One of the greatest benefits to having a committed yoga practice or actively engaging in Life Coaching (both with yourself and with clients) is the ongoing opportunity to master non-attachment and releasing what no longer serves you!
Is having my Facebook account disabled, with what appears to be no hope of return, less of a spiritual lesson than the miscarriage of a precious soul? The question itself seems ludicrous! What if we are given lessons of varying degrees based on our soul's curriculum and timing?
Referring again to A Course In Miracles, its wisdom suggests that we have a destined curriculum that we will be presented with during our lifetime, and the only real decision we get to make is its timing!
Explained another way, we must learn the lesson when it's presented, or it will be presented again at another time and place in our lives.
Learning to "let go," to release what doesn't serve us in non-violent and graceful ways, and to move forward from a place of deep spiritual understanding is the definition of a real Hero's Journey.
This is what we call a "Blesson"... the process of discovering the blessings within the lesson!
May it be said at SWIHA that when something SUCKS, we seek to Surrender, Understand, and Consciously move through the process with Kindness, embracing the Spiritual lesson, which we know to be our "Blesson."
KC Miller’s Facebook has not been recovered yet; her rebuttal is still pending. You may FOLLOW her on Instagram @kcmiller.seeker
Once KC can create a new Facebook account, she will notify friends on the Facebook Group page: SWIHA – A Conscious College Community