Taking the first steps toward an open and free mind, we must be willing to recognize and let go of the seething attachments in our lives.
Attachments come in many forms. They can be a relationship dynamic, a lifestyle, or hidden within a multiplicity of codependent family, friendly or romantic partnerships.
Walking the path means seeing our attachments as they are: habitual and sometimes neurotic behavioral patterns through which we define our happiness and our sense of security. Recognition of our attachments through the lens of truth and reality is crucial. It is a significant step. Once we recognize such behaviors and see them as they are, we will have no choice but to cut them with our metaphorical sword of mindfulness over time. To continue these patterns, knowing what we know, would only lead to guilt and a false sense of happiness.
It is through “attention, attention, attention” that we are able to cut these ingrained patterns.
It was a strange thing to witness my impulsive nature when I first began practicing mindfulness.
“Oh, I’m hungry.”
“Oh, I am upset, so I am going to lift weights!”
“I’m bored, so I want to watch a scary movie.”
I needed a great deal of patience and some humor. It wasn’t that I was evil or misguided; I was just unconscious and I was now becoming aware of the difference between witnessing and self-centeredness.
The move that shattered everything, that blew down the walls of my mind, was letting go. “I need to look up Internet videos,” transformed into silence. There was a reality in this moment and it was the sun coming through the half-open curtain. It wasn’t so much the silence as the experience of suddenly not having a rope around my body or a small weight on my chest. I was experiencing a moment of spaciousness and freedom that no man or woman could give or take from me. There was something inside, below my thoughts, which pushed me to become aware. The action I undertook, that I continue to undertake, is to let go and turn my awareness inwards when the mind begins to churn.
Following a rope into my mind, I often found a discomfort or a denial at the core of the streaming impulse. It was time to begin snipping them one by one.
Initially, letting go can be difficult. To renounce the old behaviors and beliefs that comprised the fabric of who you thought you were and to see the reality of your present situation is painful to a certain degree. To understand things that happened in your past as well as the way you remained unconscious through their unfolding, facing them head on, alone, and without your comforting judgments and opinions, is not particularly easy.
But within the darkness there are simple and yet profound treasures that immediately begin a transformation of your experience. For instance, the sudden experience of freedom.
We are free. We can understand this freedom only when we have completely let go of ourselves as well as the tendencies of the small mind. Through practice and occasional walks into the realm of open space, this becomes apparent. What a wonderful, empowering thing to be aware of though. Underneath the surface, we are a free being.
We can cultivate roots that stretch down through our bodies and into the earth. This is good. Letting go and appreciating the ground on which we walk, each moment brings out a kind of reverence for what is.
Breathe in the air that sustains us. We let go and touch what lies around us and within us—the inner infinite and the outer infinite—free from the constraints of thoughts or opinions. For we are emptiness, and the river of life flows through our open and accepting nature. We are nothing in the face of the cosmos, and the ego we have created is nothing in the face of our subconscious infinite.
By lightly grasping this concept we will see that we are intricately a part of everything and thus, a small piece of the whole. This is something we can all experience deeply at any moment.
The Radiant Buddha said:
Regard this fleeting world
Like stars fading and vanishing at dawn,
Like bubbles on a fast moving stream,
Like morning dewdrops evaporating on blades of grass,
Like a candle flickering in a strong wind,
Echoes, mirages, and phantoms, hallucinations,
And like a dream.
Inner truth often feels as if it is deep, profound wisdom that occasionally walks hand-in-hand with ridiculous humor. We are nothing, and in being nothing we are everything. Don’t ponder this truth just let it seep in by letting go of everything.
Editor: Brianna Bemel