Lately I've been thinking a lot about the difference between desire and attachment...
When I was on a ten day silent meditation retreat over the holidays, I began to see how my mind would obsess over the same desires over and over again. (Mostly about achieving more, doing more, having more...)
It became crystal clear that those desires - that had once been born out of pure innocence - had become attachments and they were causing me suffering.
In a moment of realization in meditation, on Christmas Day, when I had been feeling quite a lot of pain in my body, I broke down in tears, realizing I had been creating the cause of my own suffering by focusing so much on what I didn't have, and what was not in my present moment reality.
So I did what I could to clear those attachments away. I focused on what was happening in my body and breath and released the need for anything to be different than it already was.
An image flashed in my mind of myself being completely stripped down to simple clothes and a shaved head, meditating - settling into a state of stillness and total presence.
From this state of complete patience, self-lessness and letting go, a ground zero of sorts, I asked myself what was really important to me - and the answer was so simple: time in beautiful natural environments with my beloved, singing and being a teacher and mentor, walks in the back field with my cat, Quan Yin, and going out to dinner with friends. That was it...
From that day forward in the retreat, meditation became so much easier. Pain began to lift on my body, and in the times when it came back, my relationship to it was completely different. I had developed a patience that hadn't been there before. I allowed the sensations to be there, the thoughts to be there, witnessing, knowing at some point they would pass, and they always did.
Carrying these insights into my life, I've found a state of more ease and gentleness.
But what about our desires? Isn't it good to have goals and ambitions? I think it is good to have desires, goals and ambitions, but when we find ourselves suffering from those desires, it's time to ask if we have become attached.
It has been a great relief for me to enjoy life (and all that I already have) from a place of nonattachment - allowing everything to just be as it is.
I can't say I've figured it all out, and sometimes those old attachments linger back into my mind, but that's when I come back to my meditation practice, noticing the sensations and breath, and remembering all that is real and perfect in this moment.
To hear more about this topic, listen to my latest podcast where I share the introduction of my book due to release this summer. If you missed my last email, you'll hear all about the new title, Just Be: A Search for Self-Love in India. And, if this message resonates with you, I'd love to hear in the comments.