Thursday, January 31, 2013

Clinging Is In The Mind!

Can you tell the difference between really needing or wanting to do something, as opposed to doing it out of clinging and attachment? I bet most of you cant. And those thinking they can have not developed enough mindfulness yet to realize otherwise.

In this post, I will discuss the mental phenomena of clinging and attachment, and why we want to reduce as much of it as possible to live a happy and peaceful life.

Post Outline: 
1. Clinging is in the mind;
2. It is difficult to live this way!
3. Is there any other way? I thought clinging was part of life?
4. Where do clinging and attachment originate from?
5. Mindfulness meditation practice to reduce clinging and gain happiness.

Lets start with the idea that you may not have it all figured out. If you did after-all, you would probably be the happiest person alive by now. Not exactly you? Okay read on.

Here is a fact - nearly all of our actions, speech, thoughts and feelings are borne out of clinging, which are caused by cravings. Cravings, in turn, arise when your body and mind sense organs (e.g. eyes) contact external objects (e.g. a fresh baked muffin).

1. Clinging is in the mind
Buddhist philosophy defines clinging as (1) clinging to sensual objects, (2) clinging to views, (3) clinging to rituals and practices, and (3) clinging to notions of self. And yes, these occur in our mind every moment of being alive, whether we are aware of it or not.

Examples of clinging in our minds:
1. A thought about your significant other gets you lost in a day dream, constructing stories, scenarios, clinging to a desired outcome, etc...
2. A feeling about your son's bad behavior gets you all upset about how rude he was to you, similarly constructing stories, reaching for a desired outcome, etc...
3. Striving for compliments and approval from others in order to boost your self esteem...
3. Repeatedly arguing and trying to persuade others of your views and beliefs.

2. It is difficult to live this way!
Clinging does the opposite of what we want or intend to achieve. Instead of finally getting contentment that we got the outcome we yearned for, we instantly revert to craving for and clinging for something else. Sound familiar?

This is a process not too different from a hamster wheel. And during all this our minds grows more restless, we are driven by our ego that further isolates us from others, and it becomes difficult to enjoy life...

3. Is there any other way to live? I thought clinging was part of life?
Clinging is normal but so is lack of peace and contentment that pervades throughout our life. Just because most people are not quite happy in life doesn't mean you need to follow the herd, right?

There is a widespread confusion out there that a life without clinging and attachment is an irresponsible one, where people would be unable to remain good fathers, mothers, husbands and wives. This misses the point. It confuses "a reduction in attachment" with "detachment". If you are mindfulness meditator you know exactly what I mean. If you are just getting started, suspend your preconceptions for a while and give it an honest try.

4. Where do clinging and attachment originate from?
Despite widespread confusion - there is no one making you do, say, think or feel anything. It's a process of cause and effect, starting with your own mind and body; not some outside force. But every moment does present you the opportunity to exercise that little free will inside you, or what I like to call "unconditioned awareness".

The mindfulness practice is to patiently observe your own actions, speech, thoughts and feelings throughout the day, and ask yourself - what is my intention behind this? Am I acting out of clinging to some outcome or are am I doing it out of wisdom, true love or necessity? This is a much more challenging exercise than meets the eye, but it gets easier with practice. And the wisdom and happiness that follows will stay with you for the rest of your life.

5. Mindfulness meditation practice to reduce clinging and gain happiness.
We can learn simple mindfulness and meditation techniques that will go a long way to release our clinging, cultivate wisdom, and make our life and the lives of those around us much much happier and more at peace.
Please proceed to Part 2 of this post where I review actual meditation techniques to help you identify mental clinging and cultivate wisdom in its place. Everything I write about here reflects my own experience in meditation.

Thanks for reading,

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