While there are certainly many reasons for anxiety and fear in our modern hectic world, one reason stands out to me—we have become a throwaway society; everything can be replaced.
It’s 2013 and I have been reflecting on the presence of fear and anxiety in all of us.
Only 50 years ago in Switzerland, any object was built to last for a very long time. Today, things are built purposefully not to last, so they will need to be replaced in a few years—more profit to be made that way.
Unfortunately, this same attitude has spread to how we treat people and other beings as well.
Doesn’t work out with your partner? No problem, there are many more lovers out there in the metaphoric green pasture. Having difficulty in your chosen spiritual practice or with your teacher? Easy, there are many paths and other teachers right around the corner.
Animals are of course ever expendable, as seen in the way we treat them before they end up on our dinner plate. And on it goes…
The thought of being replaced so easily is what gnaws on our insides and creates all this anxiety. Fear that we might be replaced, cast out or exposed as insignificant causes us to overwork, become overly greedy, lash out, get stressed out and experience a host of other stressful symptoms.
Maybe one of the reasons the tragedy in Connecticut hit us so hard is the reminder that our children are not replaceable.
It was a reminder of a deep truth—none of us is replaceable. We are all like snowflakes, unique and one-time expressions of life’s beauty and mystery. We are, in fact, irreplaceable. Some place we know this is true, even though we do not have access to that truth anymore.
By placing detachment so highly on the list of spiritual values, spirituality has not offered much on this conundrum either.
I say—be more attached!
You are lucky if you love your partner or a teacher so much that when things get difficult you do not simply replace them. If you love them so deeply, replacement shouldn’t present itself as an option.
Of course, it is necessary to be aware of abusive relationships. These are absolutely necessary to sever and the ability to do so will foster another facet of spiritual growth. But that’s another story for another time.
Otherwise, only because of this love and, yes, attachment, will we get through the discomfort of confronting our own deepest issues and maybe, finally move through and heal them. Sometimes that deep love and attachment to a teacher, lover or mentor helps us to realize that we, too, are absolute unique expressions of the divine and can learn to love ourselves for the precious ones that we are.
From there we expand and recognize all the incredibly precious and irreplaceable beings and even inanimate objects around us. We realize that every bit of life around us is sacred, and we do everything in our power to protect it.
In acknowledging the preciousness around me, I have taken on a stewardship of a section of the Santa Fe River just below my house. Every time I go for a walk in the riverbed, I pick up trash and make the immediate environment a more beautiful place.
It gives me so much pleasure to restore the riverbed to its natural beauty. Why? Because it is precious, unique and it is mine to do since I live here now. I love finding projects that remind me to be attached to where I live and work.
The best part of healthy attachments is the beautiful reward.
At some point there is a natural letting go. Healthy attachment and love, in my opinion, will lead to unconditional love, which is another manifestation of letting go. The release is akin to the mature fruit that simply lets go of its connection to the stem when it is ready. It’s not prematurely ripped away, causing wounds and scars.
Similarly, we can trust that when our attachment and love has fully matured, there will be spacious, luminous, unconditional love and equanimity.
Here are five things you can do to decrease anxiety and foster healthy attachments:
1. If you get a present that is not right for you, instead of returning it, think of who would be the perfect recipient for this gift and then have fun giving it to the right person.
2. Tell your lovers, teachers, children and other loved ones that you are attached to them and that they matter to you. My relationship with my husband took a big turn when I stopped saying things during fights like: “I don’t think this will work out, maybe I should leave” (incidentally my worst fear is to be abandoned myself).
3. Be particular about details; treat even objects with respect.
4. Make a gift, something that has your sweat (and maybe tears) in it. Give it away, knowing how unique it is because you put yourself into it.
5. Think about other ways to express and celebrate healthy attachments.
Katchie Ananda is an internationally recognized Yoga and Dharma teacher whose leadership in yoga and social change prompted Yoga Journal to name her one of five top yoga teachers making change in the world. She has over 20 years of experience as a full-time yoga teacher and trainer and is certified in Anusara, Jivamukti and Integral yoga as well as extensively trained in Ashtanga Vinyasa by Richard Freeman. She is the co-founder of Yoga Sangha, now Yoga Kula, a studio in San Francisco renowned for its focus on “Spiritual Activation” and social change. When not travelling, she lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband and dog. www.katchieananda.com
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