Non-attachment

I am known to be an upbeat and optimistic person, to such a point that some friends affectionately nicknamed me ‘Mr. Happy.’ But even in those moments when everything is well and I am cruising through life worry-free, I still feel the presence of melancholy in the background. I keep coming back to that underlying sensation of sadness in my life. And then I ask myself, “Why do I feel this way?”

As I ponder, I come to the conclusion that I feel sad because who and what I love — the people, the things, and the situations — will, eventually and inevitably, be taken away from me, including my own physical existence with all its joyful moments.

It’s not difficult for me to realize that my sadness derives from my cravings and attachments. I can see how my desires for people and things to be a certain way are sources of suffering.  When they are not the way I want them to be, I suffer. And when they are, by getting attached to them and not wanting them to change, I set myself up to endure pain because change they will.

I can see how delusional is the idea that I can create a perfect life for myself, a life situation that once attained would remain unchanged, fulfilling my needs and desires for the rest of my life. I can see the suffering I bring upon myself by my futile attempts to create permanence in an universe where everything by nature is impermanent. It’s clear to me that the constant transformation of everyone and everything will never allow me to experience complete and lasting satisfaction in my lifetime. I can accept that an undercurrent of dissatisfaction will always be present, even when things are going well.

I feel that all situations, no matter how good, cannot bring me complete contentment and peace. Even when things are good there is a knowing that things are not going to stay that way. I live with a sense of discomfort, an ever-present feeling that things are not quite right. Unsatisfactoriness is ubiquitous. I understand that everything changes and nothing stays the same, and that the attempts to make permanent what is impermanent always fail and only bring about more suffering,

I get that.

And when I realize that this is a condition that affects everyone, I feel deep sympathy and compassion for all humanity.

I guess that I am attached to life and wish not to die. Therefore, the greatest training to alleviate afflictions and agonies is the training I can undertake to reduce desires and learn to die before I die. My moment-to-moment practice must be one of letting go of attachments to everyone and everything, while, at the same time, loving everyone and everything.

Oh, these paradoxes!

I know that in the physical realm everything is transient: nothing lasts forever. I can see manifestations of birth, growth, decay, and death all around me, all the time. Through observation and reflection I can easily come to an understanding that I don’t own anything permanently, that in a way everything and everyone was lent to me for my temporary enjoyment, my body and my life included.

In order to placate this disturbing sensation of lack and insufficiency, I cultivate a sense of enoughness, saying to myself, “I do enough. I have enough. I am enough. These accumulated lifetime experiences are enough. These relationships are enough. This knowledge is enough. This wisdom is enough. This life is enough.”

So, the training for not falling in states of despair and depression is one of coming back to this present moment, of appreciating this present moment, of giving thanks for this present moment, of feeling content and satisfied, over, and over, and over again, while calmly accepting the impermanence of everything in this inescapable cycle of perennial transformation.

I see it.

I know it.

Now, what’s left, is to do it.

Just do it!

……..

 

 

……..


 

Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect and write, and who not only aspires to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He leads mindfulness silent retreats and organizes Silent Peace Walks.

Join his Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness Living sessions at Yoga Source in Coral Springs, and at Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach, Florida, USA.


 

Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store

http://peacefulways.org/store/

Book Cover Image

– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”

Pay Attention Book Cover

– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”

Silent_Peace_Walk_Cover_for_Kindle

– “Silent Peace Walk”

www.PieroFalci.com

www.SilentPeaceWalk.org

www.PeacefulWays.org

 

 

Wise Acceptance

Joseph Goldstein, the great mindfulness teacher, tells the story of dealing with a recurring fear. Being trained in mindfulness, rather than giving in to the instinct of pushing his fear away, hiding from it, or running away from it, he practiced getting closer to it, looking at it, and investigating it with curiosity, which, most of the time, made its intensity subside.

According to him, this went on for many years until the day when he had an epiphany and understood that he was using the technique of befriending the fear with the hope for it to go away forever. With this realization came an insight, a moment when he was able to say to himself, “Even if this fear stays with me to the end of my days, that will be OK.” And that was the moment of total acceptance, when his relationship with fear changed, the load became lighter, and he felt that the fear released the powerful grip it had on him. He realized that until that moment he had been watching the fear in order for it to go away, but now he could accept that perhaps the fear would never go away, and even that would be OK. He understood that his resistance to accept, and his struggle against the unwanted was making things worse, not better. He was able to frame this event not as resignation, but as acceptance, and he continued doing what was necessary to get better, but now in a much calmer and less afflicted way.

I guess that this is what we are called to do: Practice equanimity, wise understanding, and serene acceptance of what we dislike, what is uncomfortable, what is annoying, what we would like to be different but are unable to change.

We are called to accept our lives and what we were given: the uncertainty, the anxiety, the fear, and the pain. We are called to accept everything and everyone, even the difficult people. We are called to ponder on the fact that everything that arises also passes away, that everybody dies, that no one is exempt, that we will die too, and that there’s no right time to die.  We are called to cultivate serenity and wise acceptance now.

……..


 

Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect, and write, and who not only strives to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches mindfulness meditation, mindful living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He organizes Silent Peace Walks.


 

Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store

http://peacefulways.org/store/

Book Cover Image

– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”

Pay Attention Book Cover

– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”

Silent_Peace_Walk_Cover_for_Kindle

– “Silent Peace Walk”

www.PieroFalci.com

www.SilentPeaceWalk.org

www.PeacefulWays.org

 

Desiring Others to Change – Part 2

When we start practicing mindfulness, it is not uncommon to experience a boost in the quality of our lives. We feel so excited with the progress we are making that a desire emerges in us: we want the people with whom we share our lives to do what we are doing and experience what we are experiencing: we want them to practice mindfulness too. And if this does not happen, we feel frustrated, because we think that we are changing for the better and they are not. But if we look deeply, we will notice that our assessment that others are not changing is inaccurate. Mindful observation makes it very clear that all of us are changing all the time. No one stays the same. It is very clear for mindfulness practitioners that change is unstoppable and perpetual.

A deeper examination may reveal that we are the ones who are stuck in our old ways of seeing. Perhaps, we are not approaching the people in our lives with a “beginner’s mind,” with the necessary curiosity to discover who they really are now, in this moment. We have classified and categorized them in the past, and we continue to rely on the old assessments, conclusions, and labels that we have given them. We are oblivious to the fact that as we have changed, they have changed too, and that we need to look at them with fresh eyes in this present moment to see who they really are now.

Telling someone, “You should meditate. Meditation would be good for you,” is usually not well taken. What the other person hears is, “You are flawed. You need to meditate. Meditation will fix you.” We didn’t say that, but that’s what, the majority of the time, they will hear; and no one wants to hear that there’s something wrong with them.

Whenever feeling compelled to talk about the benefits of mindfulness to people close to us, let us remember the saying, “No one is a prophet in his own land,” and not get disappointed if what we have to say falls in deaf ears. Let us remember that despite our good intentions, unsolicited advice is often misinterpreted as criticism. So let’s be very cautious and gentle when suggesting meditation, or inviting others to practice it. Also, whenever we catch ourselves considering that others are stuck in their old ways, stubbornly ignoring our advice to do what we believe could improve their lives, we should pause and ponder. Let us realize that believing that we know what is best for others reveals arrogance and conceit, which may be an impediment for a leveled relationship. Let us mindfully investigate our drive to dispense advice and see the possible presence of a sense of superiority in us.

We should remind ourselves that the challenges we face are great teachers. They offer us opportunities to practice. For instance, whenever we catch ourselves desiring the people in our lives to be different than who they are, we should congratulate ourselves for noticing that. The mere fact that we are able to notice our judgment of others, and the upsetting emotions associated with our lack of acceptance is, in itself, a great step towards understanding and liberation from suffering.

All these aspects should be calmly considered when we feel the desire for people to be who they are not, but who we want them to be. Whenever these desires come up, may we be able to slow down, pause, take a deep breath, observe, and gleefully welcome these moments as great opportunities to mindfully cultivate curiosity, equanimity, acceptance, patience, and trust in the process of change.

The diligent practice of mindfulness makes the impermanence of everything very evident. By paying attention, we realize that as we are changing, the people with whom we share our lives with are changing too. Therefore, challenges like this one — the desire for people to be different — allow us to notice our own rigidity and prejudices. They remind us that there is a time for everything, and that the wisest thing we can do is to let things be as they are and unfold as they will, while focusing on living mindfully and enjoying the present moment. If the situation we wish is to come about, we trust that it will at the time it is meant to, without the need on our part to strive forcefully.

Mindfulness also makes it very apparent how interconnected we all are. This produces an inner knowing that understanding, compassion, and acceptance of others are not only good for them, but also for us. The awareness of our interconnectedness also makes us realize that our growth and evolution are already affecting the people in our lives in positive ways.

Finally, trying to bring the people in our lives to practice mindfulness may be difficult. We can invite others — gently and skillfully — but we should never insist. People will experiment mindfulness when they see us changing for the better, become curious about it, get informed about its benefits, or are in such a degree of suffering that they are desperate to try. Everything considered, the best thing we can do is to avoid proselytizing and just practice it ourselves. Period. One of the rules I have adopted is, “Don’t talk about mindfulness meditation, unless asked.” But I am not completely strict. Sometimes — very seldom I must say — I take the initiative to talk to other people about the benefits of mindfulness, but I do so only in those instances when I feel that the person is under too much suffering and could really benefit from learning and practicing.

It’s not up to us to change others; it’s up to them to change themselves. It’s their work, not ours. The best thing we can do is to be inspiring examples that will instill in them the desire to do something, perhaps the same we are doing, in order to make their lives and the world better.

……..

If you want to read the first part of this reflection, click here “Desiring Others to Change – Part 1.”


 

Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect, and write, and who not only strives to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches mindfulness meditation, mindful living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He organizes Silent Peace Walks.


 

Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store

http://peacefulways.org/store/

Book Cover Image

– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”

Pay Attention Book Cover

– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”

Silent_Peace_Walk_Cover_for_Kindle

– “Silent Peace Walk”

www.PieroFalci.com

www.SilentPeaceWalk.org

www.PeacefulWays.org

The Seven C’s

We all have some habitual thought patterns. What I mean by that is that we develop habits to process information in certain ways that become well established habits. In general, given our negativity bias — you know, the one that states that “the brain works like velcro for the negative and teflon for the positive” — we tend to think in negative ways. We habitually  criticize, judge, and condemn.

The mind engages in the 7 C’s process a lot, if not all the time. To compare, to contrast, to classify, to categorize, to compete, to criticize and to condemn, are all habitual behaviors.

Let’s ponder for a while. Aren’t we unceasingly comparing and contrasting how things and people are with our beliefs of how they should be. “She should do this. He should do that. I don’t approve her behavior. I don’t like the way he is. Do I like this, or not? Looking at these two, which one I prefer: this one or that one?”

We are also constantly classifying and categorizing, in other words, labeling, putting things and people in this or that specific class or category. “I like this. I don’t like that. This goes over here, together with the things that I like. This goes in that shelf, together with those I dislike. That one goes in that drawer. This one, in that file.” Unfortunately, once we have made up our minds of what goes where — for example, which group, in our minds, an individual belongs to — we begin to live with our ideas about them, not with the reality of whom they are. We don’t see them; what we process in our minds are our ideas of them.

And then comes criticism, judgement, and condemnation. “She should not act like this. He should not talk like that. This car in front of me is moving too slow; it should go faster. This car that just passed me is moving too fast; the driver is speeding. He should slow down. I hope a cop gets him.”

When we criticize others — which happens most of the time — we unconsciously engage in a mind-created competition in which we compare ourselves with others and invariably, although unconsciously, declare ourselves to be the winners. “He/She is not as good as I am. I am much better.”

Finally, we become those presumptuous and self-righteous judges, and we proclaim our verdicts, condemning others: “Guilty! Irredeemable! Sentenced to punishment!”

It is a very seductive process, very easy to get in, and difficult to get out. It is an unconscious and therefore not easily perceptible way of processing information.  Fortunately, mindfulness practice allows us to see how often we are lost in the 7 C’s and how easily we put ourselves on pedestals, high above others, from where we judge and condemn everyone and everything.

As my teacher says, “You cannot fix what you cannot see.”  So, let us be more mindful and notice when we are comparing, contrasting, categorizing, classifying, competing, criticizing, and condemning. By doing so, we can begin to tame those negative tendencies. Let’s be mindful.

Let’s remember that the mind is trainable. Let’s practice ways of developing more positive thinking habits. Let’s notice and reduce the time we spend with the 7 C’s. Let’s give ourselves more time to intentionally notice, savor, and absorb the good that is all around us.

Let’s go ahead and do it! Just do it!

……..


 

Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect, and write, and who not only strives to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches mindfulness meditation, mindful living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He organizes Silent Peace Walks.


 

Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store

http://peacefulways.org/store/

Book Cover Image

– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”

Pay Attention Book Cover

– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”

Silent_Peace_Walk_Cover_for_Kindle

– “Silent Peace Walk”

www.PieroFalci.com

www.SilentPeaceWalk.org

www.PeacefulWays.org