Recognizing non-clinging

In the last post we had a look at clinging and the unhappiness it causes. A complementary challenge is to notice non-clinging in our experience.

It is so easy to recognize aversion (or hatred) and greed, especially when they are strongly stimulated. Much more subtle are the moments when greed and aversion are in abeyance, when contentment is present.

When greed and aversion are strong, we have the feeling of being more vivid, more real, than usual. The identification with strong feelings makes us believe in ourselves as solid, important, even dominant entities. When not much is happening and we are taking in events around us in a more receptive way, our sense of self (or self-importance) is more subdued.

The strength of our sense of self (or ego) rises and falls throughout the day. As part of our observation process, we can check our “ego-strength” at various points. Sometimes the ego is submerged into a creative process, or a communal activity. Playing in an orchestra or singing in a choir comes to mind, when we might be both supporting others and simultaneously deferring to them. Other times, nothing seems to matter except what WE want or don’t want.

What I’m trying to describe is a type of self-consciousness, not as a neurosis, but in the sense of thinking that our own perspective and perceptions are the only ones that matter. Other people and their concerns can become less real to us.

As a practical matter, sitting meditation can be seen as an effort to find that balance point where we’re neither wanting nor rejecting anything, but just being with what is. When not sitting in meditation, this feels to me like waiting, or listening. There are times in our day when holding a receptive position is appropriate; not expecting or hoping for anything in particular, but keeping open to what might come. I try to drive with this attitude – alert and responsive, but relaxed. When listening to others, we can purposely set aside our own concerns. When we are waiting in a queue (or line) or walking the dog, we can just breath and relax into “waiting mode”.

See if you can discover some of these quiet moments in your day, and when you do, to appreciate them.

About lynnjkelly

Australian/American. Practicing Buddhist.
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