Attachments: we all know that we have them, but somehow they slip through the sieve of our perception when it feels simple enough to carry on with our lives. When an enormous interruption (for example, quarantine during a global health crisis) makes itself known, suddenly it isn’t easy to rinse away awareness of our attachments.
I’m sure you’ve started to notice yours. I am definitely noticing mine. Though our circumstances vary, we all are realizing with unprecedented immediacy that what we used to rely on for comfort and stability, as long as it was outside of ourselves, is no longer available to us.
At first glance these attachments seem mild, even innocuous. I miss my yoga studio, my friends, my restaurants. Perhaps they grow into bigger, more substantial longings for the past. But the outcome of attachment is always the same: discomfort when we can’t access things that soothe us.
I’ve heard people say that this time is a “great global pause” during which we can heal. Perhaps this is true. I suspect it is true because I am incredibly uncomfortable; the people, landscape, and fixtures of my life that I thought I loved in a perfectly healthy way, I now realize I relied on to manage my interior experience. When difficult thoughts or feelings arose, I could turn, with incredible efficiency, to one of the many external things I used to feel secure.
How do you develop a sense of inner stability? It starts with observing, without judgment, what you turn to when you feel discomfort.
It is comforting to believe that what I think is happening tomorrow is actually going to happen. When I go to my favorite bookstore or take a walk in my favorite park and things are as I expected them to be, the illusion of security is corroborated by familiarity, and it becomes increasingly easy to rely on the external world for a sense of stability.
I would prefer that sense of stability come from within.
How do you develop a sense of inner stability? It starts with observing, without judgment, what you turn to when you feel discomfort. Then, asking, what is beneath this? Finally, leaving a quiet space for whatever needs to come up to simply arise. Learning to hold that quiet space is the practice of overcoming resistance.
It is simple, but often difficult. Now is a great time to try. Luckily, the “trying” is the part that matters. There’s no succeeding, and there’s no doing it wrong. It’s safe to try.