I’d like to share some of my thoughts today about one aspect of self-healing: non-attachment.
Ever since I started self-healing work about 20 years ago, I’ve noticed that many of the lessons and messages we get from our teachers and leaders and gurus overlap with each other. For instance,
- Be non-judgmental
- Be patient, be kind, perform random acts of kindness
- Love your neighbor as your self
- Honor each other
But over the years there have been a handful of messages with which I’ve always struggled. These include:
- Let it go, let go
- Release it
- Be unattached to outcome, be detached
- Let go, let God take the pain away
In general, I’ve struggled with the admonishments and encouragements to surrender. Perhaps it’s that I am, admittedly, a person who wants to feel in control. Of course, I’ve had enough training and life experience to know cognitively that we’re never in control. Still, when I hear the words like “just let it go,” my defenses go up and I find I want to be even more attached to the situation, to the outcome, to the issue, to my ego’s way of wanting to do things.
So, or maybe But, our teachers also encourage us to acknowledge what’s here in the present. So what’s worked better for me is, rather than creating more inner conflict and emotional pain of guilt or discontent or incompetence by resisting the notion to “let go,” I tend to prefer to say, “OK, this feeling or desire for control is what I feel I need right now, and I know that’s a part of who I am, and I can accept it and accept myself and I don’t need to be anyone other than who I am right now.”
Now of course this isn’t a new message, and I don’t intend to imply that it is. But what’s different for me from what I think I hear the gurus saying, is that I give myself permission to accept my desire to hold on, and conversely, I don’t argue with myself if I don’t want to let go right now. I know I won’t feel this way forever, but I do believe my truth in the moment deserves to be honored.
Much of this came up for me in reaction to an internet radio show based on a book entitled “Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work.” Both the book and the show seem to summarize many of the teachings of our gurus and leaders – ie, basically, “just let it go.” Not surprisingly, I had my same immediate defensive visceral “NO!” reaction about two minutes into the show (I haven’t read the book).
Now I know myself well enough to know that that strong of a reaction probably means there’s something in there for me to learn. So after the show, I went into a guided meditation (ironically called “Patience”) which also expounded many of the same messages: “Just notice what’s there, don’t resist it,” etc.
Why, you may ask, am I willing to let in the same message from the meditation but react so strongly to the radio show? One thing I noticed was I felt like the familiar voice of the meditation leader was giving me permission to give myself permission to feel whatever is there – not to attach to it or identify myself by it, but, yes, it’s OK to feel it.
Conversely, I experienced the radio show hosts as saying, “Don’t feel it. It’s only there to distract you from your pain or task at hand or life; you’ll do better if you just change your mind, stop thinking about it, and get back to whatever those intrusive thoughts are distracting you from.”
Ironically these probably aren’t two radically different messages. But for me, I need to first let myself know it’s OK to be, feel, experience exactly what’s here now – to acknowledge it, to honor it (and thus honor myself), not to judge it as “something to be gotten away from,” but rather some part of me that’s asking for light and validation. Once that happens, I can let it go with the best of them!
I’m open to hearing your thoughts.
Adele Cox, MA, CMT
Youniversoul Health & Wellness
2305 Ashby Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705