Tag Archives: surrender

Burning Attachment

A couple of years ago I decided that my next personal transformation goal was to master the art of a letting go of  attachment.

Along came the Afrika Burn, I had been wanting to go for ages, and this was the year it was finally on the cards. My burn buddy was all lined up to go with me, and lucky, lucky, her sister and a crowd of her very experienced friends happened to be going that same year. They had an entire themed camp planned, they knew what to do, and the best spot to do it form, and we were invited to join. Perfect, soo exciting!

Then my burn buddy dropped me, family obligations. O..K.. pretty bummed, but I thought I was practicing lack of attachment by just letting it be and forging forward.
In a way, I was. Flexibility, letting go of what I thought it would be, and going with the flow. I would still join the others, though I barely knew them, it would be fine. Ja, nee.

See, I was still very attached to going to the event and to the idea of going with others, having buddies there, even if I had just met them through her sister. My lack of attachment looked OK for a while, and then it all fell over. The whole camp fell off the map, no one could attend after all, and if I wanted to go, it would be alone, which is no fun for me.
I was devastated!

I once went to a talk by a Buddhist monk. She spoke about a virtuous object. At the time, I had no idea what she was going on about, but I believe that it’s all about when something you don’t want, happens, and the virtue of this is the opportunity to practice your spiritual goal.
In this case my goal for the year: lack of attachment
The virtuous object: Afrika Burn plans falling down.

I believed what I though of as a lack of attachment, would mean I was open to the many ways that the generous universe would deliver to me WHAT I WANTED. Useful, certainly. But the virtuous object showed me that it also means begin able to not be attached to what I want AT ALL, which, in that moment, totally sucked.

What is the line between not having a dream or passion, and not being too attached to an outcome? How do we stay excited, motivated and moving towards something, and still be OK if we never get there?  A quandary.

I guess that  it is all about living in the moment. I won’t lie, I can get pretty attached to what I think this moment should look like too for it to be a “good moment”.  And that is the ultimate fine line. Can I live in this moment as it looks now, let go of of whatever I thought it would look like, and suck every possible bit of joy and pleasure from it whatever it turns out to be? To live peacefully in the truth of what is, rather then the longing for what I had hoped it would be?

Mastering a lack of attachment is the biggest of the big girl panties required for a happy life. When I get it right, I get to be in my life, fully present, and having a great time sucking the marrow out of it. Bliss. When I don’t, it’s all crap, disappointment and woe is me.

Does this mean I don’t dream, have exciting ideas, set lofty goals? Not at all. It just means that I don’t have to stress, freak out, live in disappointment if they don’t work out or look exactly as I thought they would at the end of the day, and I get to love the journey.

Resolution pollution – how about just choosing what makes you happy?

New years resolutions – ha! Someone asked me what mine were for this year, I suppose they were expecting the usual – more work, more money, more success, more exercise, quit this, do that.
If I am perfectly honest with myself, I would have to say that if I really wanted those things, I would be sufficiently motivated to be doing them already, and not waiting for the new year. It is a strange phenomena that we expect our future self to be more motivated, more energized, more willing to do the “right thing”, the “hard work” than our current selves are. Then surprise, surprise, our future self turns out to be just as “slack” about getting those things as our current selves.

For myself, I have not set a New Years resolution for at least 10 years. I find that honesty is the best policy, and I do try to be as honest as possible with myself. Following the “know thyself” principal, I pretty much know what I want to do, and what I really don’t, what I will be willing to do and what I won’t, and I don’t try to con myself.
Ironically, my honesty doesn’t make me a lazy slacker. While I am working on being a human being – I am, by my very nature a human doing. I still have dreams, goals, plans, and I have every intention of perusing them, with energy and enthusiasm, but here is the plan…….

Instead of creating a list of everything I “should” or “must” do, I think about what I want to create for the year, and see if it makes my heart sing. How do I know if it makes my heart sing? My whole body says “YES” when I think about it. I feel energized, motivated and alive, sometimes with a frisson of fear, or peaceful, calm and content,
If I feel like I am losing energy, my body gets heavy, my chest feels a weight on it, my breathing becomes restricted, it is not for me.

So when I think about doing 10 hours of training every week for badminton – grooving new shots, playing games, drenched with sweat in the heat of Feb and going out in the cold in winter, losing, wining, putting myself out there in competition, socializing with the badminton crowd, my toes start wiggling my knees start bouncing and I am ready to go.
When I think of the new course I am taking about postural structural alignment, I can’t wait to get going.

Make a list of the things that make your heart sing, and a list of the things that you are currently doing every day – adjust accordingly

PS. If you want to have great self esteem, and feel successful, do the things you are good at – the things you love, are very likely going to be the things you are good at. I am going to be so much better at studying postural alignment then I was at studying accounts at Varsity. And because I am fascinated and intrigued, I will be fabulous, and think my self awesome!

When dreaming ruins your living

Ang looking up (small)

Consider this…How do you measure success or failure? What do you measure your success or failure by? In recent years I have discovered that how you measure success or failure is directly related to whether you tend to be happy, motivated and satisfied or frustrated, angst or irritated with your day. If you are finding yourself more irritated and fearful than happy and satisfied, this might be worth considering.

After a good 20 years of doing battle with my day to day, it finally occurred to me that the goals that I set as essentially sucked out of my thumb. I decide that I want them, what they will look like and when I should have them by. I imagine them up and the proceed to attempt to bring them to life by applying myself diligently, day by day towards achieving them. That is all great, no problem there, I am all over that dreaming big thing.

Here is the snafu. I like most people I know, I very quickly forgot that I had made up my goals pretty much arbitrarily – really, they seemed like a good idea at the time and behold the goal was born. Forgetting that fact, I allowed myself to attach pretty strongly to the goal, and to use it as a measure of my own self worth. Behold, the goal that I have arbitrarily created now becomes the whip on my back, the measure of my good enough-ness, my ability, who I am as a person, my very identity. Bye bye the exiting, positive, creative joy of working towards my dream, bye bye the jumping out of bed, can’t wait to get started, hello stress, pressure, fear, unhappiness, self judgement. WTF!

I myself have decided to measure my everyday success at work not by what I achieve in that day – despite my best efforts, I often achieve much less than I set out to – nor by whether I can get things or others, or the world to “go my way” – alas, I have discovered that I lack control in that arena too, but instead, did I turn up, dedicate myself, get involved and engaged, enjoy what I was doing as much as possible, work on loving my day, myself and my life. After all, I am only alive in this moment, right now in this place, doing this thing, I am not yet alive in the undefined future when I finally have the outcome. If I don’t decide to love the process of my day to day life, no amount of money, fame or other success in ?? years will replace a life lost to fear, frustration, and a lack of joy.

And what about the long term dream? I now choose to be in acceptance around that. I want it, I am willing to do the work, despite that, I may or may not achieve it. I no longer allow the achieving it to define me. It is just a dream that I dream because it pleases me and inspires me today. If I can’t manage to make it work, as I had hoped, I am quite sure I can find another.

Surrender and live

I spent my life being a fighter – as a kid literally fighting – kick, punch, bite, yank, you need to toughen up with 2 older brothers. As an adult it meant, defend, protect, push, drive, strive, control, cling. It took me almost 40 years before I finally learned how to engage in the power of surrender,  acceptance, and flow.

I have come to learn that it is only in surrender, that you can live a truly present, joyful and happy life.IMG_2205 small

I always imagined that surrender, and acceptance would be the death of ambition and forward momentum. That losing that striving, always pushing need to prove myself better, stronger, more successful (mostly than myself ) would leave me a couch potatoes with a  with dozen donuts and an remote control obsession.

Instead, I find that this peaceful, curious, joyful approach to engaging in those things I am passionate about, means I not longer spend my time battling fear of failure (and success), and more time finding a way to engage in and create what my heart desires. Perhaps I will succeed in whatever new project I have on the boil at any one time, perhaps I will not, I surrender to those 2 possibilities, and as a result, and am able to work today with a gentle, focused joy in this moment, rather than a fearful angst about whether it is going to be the right thing to get me there. As a result, I have truly experienced this moment – and since it is a variety or this moments that make up my life, I have experienced my life, and it is good.

I have learned to measure my success in a new way. I no longer wait for the outcome of my project to as the single measure of my success, a methodology that was sure to up my daily adrenaline output, instead count myself successful, everyday, in a variety of life affirming ways. I show up, I do my best, I live in my best possible joy, I do scary, challenging things and relish them, I practice,  I feel my joy, I experience pleasure in the moment, I do the work, I connect, I treat myself kindly, I take care of myself, I give myself time for other things, I live.