A couple of years ago, during a mindfulness and meditation panel I was co-leading, one of the participants raised their hand:
“If attachment, so suggests Buddhism, is the root of all dis-ease… well, how do you know when you are attached to something?”
Hmmm. That was a good one. It can be fabulous and very empowering in life to be committed to something, but at what point can we tell its crossed beyond a commitment into an attachment?
I paused for a moment to let this percolate.
“I’d say that… if you find yourself righteously hot, fixated, uncontrollably going on about something, and you’re gripped by it… then it’s probably an attachment. There’s a visceral component to it, one of those ones that defies neat and accurate description but if you let yourself be sensitive to it you get to know that grip. Actually, you can probably think back to a time when something was said or done or you learned that just had you react with such recoil and fury that seemed to come out of nowhere… well, bingo, that’s the feeling, that visceral reaction. There’s something there beyond just a commitment.
And this is really good to notice, not only because attachments can cause us such distress, but because it robs us of our freedom and, perhaps counter-intuitively, kills our performance and our power. It also means that maybe we should check that commitment, because I’ll bet ya if we have that reaction we’re actually attached to something other than what we’re saying we are committed to. And if our authentic self wants us to embrace that commitment, authentically, then we’re going to want to deal with that inauthentic hidden attachment.
Once we’re out of the grip of attachment, we are free to play and be who we truly want to be.”
A great question that had me distinguish something for myself that day.