A slightly different take on attachments…
Attachment to anything – situations, people, things, roles – is what causes suffering. Our stories about what should be and what is clash. Which is fine. It is just part of the human condition. But after a while, and if we act from kindness towards ourselves, we may want to explore this further. What is really going on? Is there another way?
One of the first things we may notice is that any attachment is really an attachment to a story. The story of I with an Other, and then all the other stories that flesh out the identity of this separate I.
I am an object in the world, so want what supports this object and do not want what does not support it. I am alive, so don’t want to be dead. I believe in fairness, so want to see fairness in how I and others are treated.
We may also notice that an attachment to a story is really an identification with this story. We have a story of an I with an Other, and take ourselves to be this separate I. We have a story of being a particular gender, age, of a particular ethnicity, having certain values, and take ourselves to be all of that.
Another thing we may notice is that it is all completely innocent. We are all dealing with this life as best as we can, and often from lack of clarity.
And then, that behind all of it is fear. Fear for what may happen to this human self. We attach to stories to deal with this fear, and try to avoid what we are afraid may happen to it.
And that behind this fear is love. A love for this human self and whatever is within its circle of concern. All attachments to stories come from love. From wanting the best for what we take as I and us.
So how do we explore attachments, or identifications with stories?
A simple and direct way is to investigate the beliefs themselves, and find what is already more true for us. I can use a sense of discomfort as a guide to discover when my stories of what is and should be clash, and then investigate one or both of these. Is it true? What happens when I believe that thought? Who would I be without it? What is the truth in its turnarounds?
Another is to investigate impermanence in the five sense fields, to see impermanence directly here and now. This helps us reorganize and find stories more aligned with this impermanence. And it also helps us see that no story is absolutely true, which invites a release of identification with these stories.
We can also include each of the three centers: head, heart and belly.
We can find ourselves as that which is already free from identification with stories, for instance through the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and finding ourselves as what does not change in the midst of the constantly changing content of awareness.
We can invite our heart to open through various heart centered practices, or just a focus on the heart and its qualities.
And we can invite in a deep body sense of trust and nurturing fullness through various body and hara centered practices, such as Breema.
Each of these tends to invite in an opening in the two other centers, especially if we bring attention to it. An open heart invites in an open mind and a nurturing fullness. An open mind invites in an open heart and a felt-sense of trust. A body feeling of trust and nurturing fullness invites in an open heart and mind.
We may also discover that resisting experience tends to close each of the centers. That this happens only when there is an identification with this resistance.
And that fully allowing experience, independent of what it is, tends to invite in a receptivity and opening of each center. And that this is also an allowing of the resistance, which is a release of identification with it and the content of experience in general.
Finally, after exploring all of this for a while, we may discover that releasing identification with stories allows our human self to be more effective in the world, acting from kindness, whatever skillful means it has available through experience and training, and engagement.
While we are identified with stories, we create a prison for ourselves. We tie ourselves up in these stories. We often act from a closed mind, ambivalent heart, and reactive emotions. We become blind and quite stupid in many ways.
When identification is released from these stories, the sense of I goes out of them and they are recognized as only tools of practical and temporary value for this human self to operate in the world. There is a new freedom in choosing whatever stories to live from according to what seems appropriate in the situation. And all of this tends to be guided from kindness.