We are hardwired to seek pleasure, avoid pain and conserve energy.
When zen practitioners and Buddhist advice westerners to “release all attachments” I feel a bit spicy and bold in stopping for a moment to challenge that guidance.
Sorry, not sorry.
The reason, I propose, that advising people who’s earliest attachments may or may not have been secure, safe, responsive or kind in the least, is faulty and of no great mistake or ill will but of basic ignorance. We know from learning about the brain and early bonding that if a child did not receive a trusting and responsive relationship with his/her caregiver between the ages of 0-5 when 90% of the brain is developing, that a child will exude behavior later in life to get those needs met and often waywardly. Can we please begin by,
1. Forgiving ourselves for the ways we’ve attached to “things” as adults?
2. Recognize that our attachments are in response to our very human need to have safety and security?
3. Understand over time that through awareness, inquiry and healing that yes, we can release attachments to those people, places & things that no longer serve us *ONCE we begin finding safety within ourselves?
There is no magic bullet or way this goes from shadow to light - we have to explore and be open to accepting the ways some needs were met while others were not and then take the most courageous step of all and see how those attachment needs have played out in our relationships all this time (and continue to play out).
If there’s anything we can - and should - do today, especially for those of us who have struggled with addiction (in my opinion) it is this: put your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly. Breathe into each hand and as the palms fill with the expansion of breath tune into the connection between instinct (is this right or wrong?) and desire (is this what I want/what I don’t want?). Fine tuning the dynamic interplay between the gut and our hearts desire will help us clear the greater pathway to our brains where, honestly, we need the most healing.