“There is a sense of freedom in loss”
I know it sounds scary at the beginning!
The first time this thought came to my mind, it shocked me to the extent I found myself shaking my head fiercely trying to dismiss any trace of the thought.
Nada, you need therapy! Not that I have issues with seeking therapy when I need it.
This won’t be the last time this thought hunts me, it kept pushing its way through my mind till I was forced to examine its roots.
This thought goes back to the year 2014, the year my dad passed away and I lost a man that meant the whole world to me at that time. I will keep the story of the man to myself for now.
But with both losses and in spite of all the intense pain waves, there was a subtle underlying sense of freedom deep in my body that was ashamed to surface.
My dad passed away after a long suffering with illness, it was very painful for him and maybe as painful for me. My pain didn’t come only from his suffering, it also came from my clinging to him.
One of the most important Buddhist concepts that I encountered very early in my quest was detachment. I hated the concept the moment I read about it, it sounded cold and aloof. I even went to the extreme of thinking it is anti-human.
How the hell are we supposed to love deeply if we keep detaching from the people that we love!
One of my qualities that I have always been fond of, is that I am a passionate woman. It gave me colors and it allowed me to experience life to the fullest, anything I did was done full heartedly. Of course that meant that my life was always a zig-zag, a turmoil, a silent volcano at the edge of erupting.
Yet, I never minded the lows as I always enjoyed the highs.
All the warnings about emotional burnout never really registered with me; Life would be so boring without them.
But with passion comes attachment and attachment can become suffocating both for the passionate person and for the object of passion. The fear of losing the object of passion is scary.
It kept me alert and anxious all the time. Losing a beloved one, losing a status or even losing a business deal, enslaved me in a prison of fear.
At points in time, I even imprisoned those I loved one way or another to avoid the pain of loss. We suffocate the people we love with the extra attention, the extra clinging, the extra jealousy and the extra anxiety we create.
The ride on that internal roller-coaster never stops.
However to me the answer couldn’t be detachment the way I initially understood it. I met few people in my life that added to my doubts regarding detachment. Their practice of detachment made them end up completely disconnected from their own emotions. I saw people using detachment as a means of escapism, to avoid the deep human emotions that cause joy as much as they cause pain.
When faced with an emotional mess, the only thing they could do is to escape into a safer cold shield that protects them from part of their humanity.
Of course that is my own perception of what I witnessed, but in all cases, I knew very well that this is not for me. I have always been inspired by intense people who could connect to life and their own humanity to the deepest level.
Yet, the concept of detachment kept bugging me and with the intensity of my ups and downs, I knew there is a different balance that I need to look for.
It is interesting how it’s always those concepts or ideas or even people that most annoy us end up being the ones we need most for our growth.
In my quest to understand detachment and to implement it in my life, the first thing that I learned is to call it non-attachment instead of detachment, and yes it did make a big difference to me personally. Non-attachment to me means no matter how much you are emotionally invested in anything external to the self, you never identify yourself with it. However, you are free to dive into the intensity of the emotions and to surrender to the moment.
Non-attachment means I keep reminding myself that I am not the role I play in society, nor the lover, nor the physical body, nor the beauty nor the financial means.
I enjoy everything that I have to the max and I feel blessed for it, but I know deep inside that I am beyond that. I learned to keep looking for practices and spiritual experiences that allow me to experience myself on a different dimension that allows me to dive inward.
I keep an inward perspective of who I am so that when my outer world changes or even shakes, I can go internally and connect to my core.
In doing that I am not trying to suppress my emotions nor to neutralize them; on the contrary, I have the safety of being childishly joyful or miserably sad as I know who am I can never be touched or altered.
The other thing that I learned is a simple reminder that it is all temporary, nothing really lasts not even life itself.
The elder people in our culture keeps mentioning that but they do it in a very bitter way, usually as a warning not to indulge into the joys of life too much.
There is a more positive way in doing that which can be very empowering.
The fact that nothing is permanent inspires me to capture the moment fully knowing that any moment will not last. It actually gives me the awareness needed to be grateful for the smallest experience that life brings me and to deliberately look for new experiences that allow me to discover more of life while I can. I also know that no matter how intense the pain is, it shall eventually pass which gives me hope and courage at the darkest moment.
Today with every loss, I learned to ask myself: Why the loss? What is life trying to teach me? What did this loss free me from? What can I do with the new space created?
I even developed a small prayer thanking God for everything that he gave me and everything that he took away from me.
I am not saying that this is easy nor pretending that I practice non-attachment naturally all the time. Yet the fact that I have non-attachment as part of my belief system gives me a tool for grounding. After I spin a bit and loose balance once a storm hits, I eventually go back to the natural rhythm of my breath and I look inward and connect to the undisturbed peace that can only come from within.