Today I would like to dwell on a subject of attachment-this invisible but powerful connection we have with ideas, thoughts, stories, people… Attachment is a kind of mental glue that holds us joined with something or somebody so close that we seem to be one. We can’t imagine separation.

I was once a witness to an instruction that a young man gave to his young wife; it was about how to cut onion. He wanted his onion being cut exactly the way his mother did, because it was the only correct and perfect way. I saw tears in the eyes of his wife and I was sure that they were not caused by the fumes of the infamous onion. I don’t know if they are still married, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were not.

We can be attached to a way we hang toilet paper or fold towels in the bathroom. We can be attached to a way we eat our beef or that we don’t eat it at all. We can develop attachment to political ideas, cultural trends or our identity…

Power of attachment is felt when we are put to test and presented with a different way, a different possibility and another point of view. In such moments we could allow for this different perspective, but it means that we have to detach ourselves; we have to take a step back, loosen the connection, get unstuck, open the grip, and accept another way of “cutting onion” if only for a second. A lot of energy is locked, consumed and even wasted in unnecessary attachments. This energy could be used differently and creatively. Meditation is a great space for doing it, for melting hardened attachment gently and benevolently approaching other possibilities with love. Learn meditation

I feel sorry for “the feelings”. I am sorry for the way they are treated or rather mistreated. They are diminished, ridiculed and disrespected; they can be both dismissed and glorified. And above all they are misinterpreted.

When we sense an emotion we get immediately busy with giving a meaning to it, explaining, justifying and judging it. A feeling is like a defendant that is talked of, analyzed and finally condemned without ever being asked or heard.

To hear feelings and emotions we simply need to learn the language they speak, and it is not the same language that our intelligent, thinking mind is using. We need an understanding of that difference and we need a proper dictionary. So far we are using one that reminds me of a joke I watched once on TV. The joke is about a couple of tourists travelling in an exotic country using a phrase book written obviously by some crazy academic. The translation of “Can you help me?” meant actually “Where is my hat?” a sentence “What time is it?” was really “Do you have potatoes?”, or “Go to the left” was translated as “Don’t stroke a cat”.The joke was hilariously funny, and perfectly renders a human being's problems with communication generally.

But let’s stick to the emotions and feelings. Where can we find the right dictionary? How can we understand and learn the language of sensations and emotions? The answer is in you, it is subjective and personal and the way to understanding your
feelings is in being present with them, listening to them, allowing them to move through your body. Nobody can write a dictionary for you, you have to do it yourself. The best, safest and gentlest way is in meditation. Learn meditation.

The thinking, intelligent mind likes to take possession. It appropriates whatever is happening to “you” using words like “I”, “me” and “mine”. It loves telling stories in the first person. The truth is that it is not “You”. It is only a part of you-an aspect of you. It has a task to make you functional in a society. Its occupation is to make you safe and successful (that’s actually the same, where successful means safer). It helps you to have some order, logic and communication in life so you can decide about your diet, your clothes, politicians you vote for or not… It is so diligent and hardworking that it will dominate you completely and utterly; it will make you believe that IT is YOU. In fact YOU are so much more. And YOU need to get YOUR life back. YOU need to put things in place, regain your true position and retrain the system.

Meditation is a wonderful tool for that purpose.

When I meditate I consciously move my attention from the thinking, talking mind. I move it towards my body and all the feelings and sensations it experiences. And when my thinking mind grabs this attention back I tell it: “thank you very much, but I don’t need you right now” and I gently but decisively refocus on sensing, experiencing and being. Sometimes it goes very smoothly and sometimes it can be a struggle. Of course this mind was in charge and ruling position for so many decades of my life; it enjoys the authority. The habit of favoring thinking is strong; I am changing it now. I have discovered so many other aspects of ME and I get acquainted with them.

I listen to sensations, emotions, feelings, visions and thoughts without getting attached to them. I allow them to be and to move. I am in the here and now, I am present, I am aware, I AM…That’s meditation.

A member of my family died lately. It was too soon, too abrupt and too painful; it almost always is. We are still shocked at that fact. We don’t know how and where to put this huge empty space that is left for us.

There is a story about his life and about his death. There is a story about "why", "why not" and "if only"… These stories should help us to come to terms with this absurd situation and we hope that they will bring a relief. The intelligent mind is working assiduously on a solution to an irrecoverable loss. This loss can be talked of or not, but it is always thought of and what is more important it is also felt violently.

So how about dropping the thinking and turning towards the feeling. Yes the feelings are uncomfortable, sad and painful because they are an obvious reaction to the circumstances. This reaction is being felt physically in the body while thinking is trying vainly to suppress the pain. We have to go through the discomfort, pain and grief by allowing ourselves to feel it, to be with it, to experience it palpably. It is called mourning. It is a time when we integrate and reconcile into our system something that cannot be undone; never and ever. I choose this way, I choose to trust my body-it knows what to do and how to do
it and I accept it. I am present with the grief, the pain and the cry. I am mindful of it and I find a relief in it.

“I wish I could stop thinking “is a thought that probably pops up on everybody’s mind from time to time. Thinking in such cases instead of bringing a solution and help, has accelerated into a messy hurricane or a mental vortex threatening our sanity and giving us a headache or other even more serious malady; we simply would like to be able to stop it. And then another thought can appear: “It is said that meditation can quiet the mind, bring bliss and peace and allow chill out.” We want to learn meditation to master this troublesome and exhausting stream of thoughts.

I am not sure that a conscious person can stop thinking. But I am quite sure that a person can consciously ignore thinking completely. It is not about ceasing to think but about not paying attention to thoughts. The best way to do it is to pay attention to something else. And this something else is not a pleasant thought about a bottle of wine, a bar of chocolate or a lover… This something else is your functioning, living body.

Before we were taught to speak and communicate with language we were communicating with the environment by sensing it and feeling it. Life was only experienced; it was not described and judged. As grownups we still sense the environment, but we do it almost unconsciously. We had moved all our attention to commenting on it and judging it, namely thinking about it.

So I suggest ignoring thinking by swapping our attention back to this baby-like state of being, just feeling and sensing; concentrating on your physical, not intellectual life. This simple action will cut you off from thinking. And it will enlarge you sphere of consciousness. You can choose then when you want to think and when you don’t. It is very useful particularly when the thinking has turned into an uncontrollable, painful storm. Start training when the storm is far away. Learn it, it is meditation.

I began learning to write and read by learning alphabet. So did Shakespeare. I am not going to compare his skill of writing to mine, but it is obvious that we both started from A, B, C... If it is knitting, cooking or composing music one has to start from a very simple, basic level to be able to go further, to do more advanced things if one chooses so. One has to learn an alphabet first.

I believe that the same applies to mindfulness and meditation. And I know that it is a skill that can be learned and improved. Meditation is not some god given state of existence, it is a state of awareness that can be taught, and learned, and practiced and developed if one wants to do it, if one wants to learn it. There is no mystery there, but there is need for practice and information how to do it.

So what is an alphabet of meditation? It is concentration on breathing for some, it is chanting for others. For me, it is a conscious act of moving attention from thinking to sensing and feeling, recognizing what your kinesthetic sense of body is signaling to you without any attempt of describing, changing, correcting or judging it. It all starts there. Redirection of attention is work, it is active and doing it can take an effort. It gets easier with practice until keeping attention on an experience exclusively becomes not only easy but pleasant and calming. (It can be an experience of breathing or chanting.) This act will reconnect you to your body and to the here and now. It will open and enlarge the territory of your awareness. That’s the beginning. Starting from there can take you wherever you want to go.

The past does not exist and neither the future. Whatever we experience is happening now in the present. We tell a story about what happened or what’s going to happen, but this story is being told now. What we take for the past are patches of feelings and thoughts stored in our nervous system. They can be pleasant or unpleasant and can make us happy or not, and may push us to act. What we imagine about the future is also put together from the same stuff and can have a similar effect. There is a great wisdom in nature that equipped the human being with these qualities, so we could survive, learn and develop.

No, I am not pretending to know the mystery of life, I just want to amuse you (and myself) playing with some possibilities based on the above statement. Abolishing the past I can abolish all the hurting, unhelpful and cruel thoughts, ideas and stories that I keep about myself. Renouncing the solidity of the past I can allow myself to choose what I want to keep, I can select memories and convictions as I select clothes, food or books; I can have a look, consider and decide. I can’t change the past, but I can reorganize my concept of it.

I can do the same to the future. I can play with it. I can decide to go for a game of the best possible scenario and create a picture of the future that is outrageously beautiful, exciting and successful.

Why not? It’s a game. Let’s not bother about “but”, “how” and “impossible”. Let’s jump straight into the perfect dream. For once let’s concentrate completely on the happy life. Let’s live it as it were just here and now. It is easy to do it in meditation allowing a dream to be felt as reality. The power is in the feeling; the energy is in the feeling. This energy of now is creating the future. Be mindful of it. Give unconditional love to your dreams. That’s the best New Year resolution.

I was not taught to indulge my wants. Contrary, I was taught to control them. There was something wrong with the very notion of having a desire. There was something frivolous and egoistic in it. The real virtue was in giving up and giving away or in working very, very hard hoping for a reward. There was always a condition for getting what I would love to have. I seldom got it and I started associated it with disappointment. Consequently I was trained to believe that wanting is bad. It was better not to want, not to desire; it was less painful and more acceptable. “Resist” became my mantra.

This programming was so successful that when somebody asked me what I wanted I usually was stupefied if not provoked by this question. I discovered to have great difficulties in answering it. I was trained to suppress and deny my desires and now they want me to acknowledge them. I have been hiding and obscuring what I really wanted so efficiently and successfully that I myself forgot it. It was much easier to recognize all the right things I should be, should have and should do fulfilling wishes of society than my own.

To find out who I really am is undeniably connected to knowing what I want. So there is work to be done in digging out all the forgotten stuff.

It is not about satisfying crazy whims immediately. It is about recognizing my preferences, likings and wishes. Because what I truly want comes from my real nature, from the deepest part of me and not from the expectations put on me by others. These desires deserve attention.

I can give them my attention in the safe space of meditation, I can be mindful of them without acting. If I allow them to exist in my inner space they have chance to exist in the physical world. I take that risk. I feel their energy. I allow them to live. I meditate on them.

“To be or not to be?” is this really “the question”? I believe that it is rather “How to be happy?” question. And when we are that we don’t bother about being or not being, the answer becomes obvious. Yes, happiness-that’s what we want in life. The right to pursue happiness is even written into the US Constitution.

There is this idea that happiness needs to be hunted, looked for and worked for. It can be gained by luck, but usually it is rather hard work that should bring it. It is almost always somewhere in the future or in the past. Why not now? Why can’t we be happy just now, just here? Well, with all the wars, crazy politicians, climate changes, children abuse and cruelty towards animals; can one be happy? Can one allow oneself to feel happy when the world around is freaking out? That is another question? Can I allow myself to be happy, to feel happy when the outside circumstances are far from being perfect? And the answer to this question is filled with bad conscious and doubt.

Happiness is a feeling; it is an inner state and is individual and subjective. The same circumstances can cause happiness in one person and despair in another. So how about an idea that happiness is unconnected to circumstances, that it is the inner feeling, inner state and even the inner power that can actually change circumstances. Happiness is within you and from there it shines, it is not influenced by circumstances, it is independent and inherent. To see it you need to change direction of you attention. How? -By being mindful of your own thoughts, feelings and sensations.-By being aware. Meditation is the best way of starting this move.

When I talk about mindfulness and mention non-intellectual, non thinking aspect of it I see some kind of panic and trepidation in people’s eyes. I see doubting and ridiculing the idea of existence without thinking. Our mind simply can’t imagine such a state as useful and honorable one. “Think!”-is an order we all here from early life, and we need to prove that we do it at all possible times and situations. We learn how to be logical and rational. We love scientific approach to the mystery of life. We admire and enjoy science.

Of course the thinking mind with all the accumulated knowledge is a wonderful and important tool and we need it. But it is only a tool and only one of many aspects of human being. We have given it the leading role and established the tyranny of thinking. We are afraid that our feelings and sensations untamed by intellect will cause some disaster and catastrophe in our lives. We are stiff scared of wild and powerful nature of emotions.

In mindfulness meditation we make an experiment of freeing that scary stuff from a control of intellect. We allow ourselves to feel what we feel when we feel it. No judging and justifying involved. The space of meditation supplies safety to this experiment. It is performed within the inner world of a person; no family, no colleagues and no neighbors need to be asked to join. And the intellect-the thinking is also dismissed. For once we can do something without supervision of the great inner critic. Understanding is not required, only feeling. We are not going to act on this sensation and we are not going to suppress it. We are simply going to have a look and listen to it. I admit that it takes a lot of courage and curiosity. But it has a magical effect of adding space and air to life. It removes limitations and control performed by thinking; and it is extremely liberating. It is mindfulness.

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