Clinging = Suffering

The last few days have been okay. I’ve had my moments where I start to feel down, then I have to check in with myself. I ask myself to “what are you thinking?” and if I am thinking about the past or the future.  More than likely I’m usually thinking about what I am not doing or what I am not feeling and then I remind myself to be grateful for now. The small things really, like the fact that I  live in a beautiful town, that I am able to walk, etc.

Except last night/this morning. I couldn’t sleep, which hasn’t happened to me in months. I was bothered by comments people made earlier that day, I worried about not having enough money to pay for rent, my  health insurance, and other bills. I began worrying about having to move, what will my job situation be like, and what am I gonna do for money? I began to think about how things were in happier times. I was full of energy and always up for a trip (by car, train, or plane), able to be motivated to do stuff, motivated to move forward in my life. And now, nothing. I hate driving, I have no energy to do much, and have no motivation for anything. Classic depression right? Combined that with the daily issue of plain ‘ol survival and you have me lying awake at 3 am in the dark tossing and turning.

Then I had to tell myself, “You don’t know what opportunities can appear in the future. You can’t do anything about it now so just relax, enjoy what you can, and be here now.” I would for a few seconds but then be right back to worrying again.

I also realized that I was holding on to my old self, the person I use to be. I may never be that person again, I am a different person now, and I will be another kind of person in the future.  I don’t like that much, but it’s true. What is also true is that by clinging onto that old person, I was only creating more suffering in my life.

Attachment as a cause of suffering is one of the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism. This Noble Truth states that, “Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a “self” which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call “self” is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.”

The interesting thing is that earlier that day I was listening to NPR and they were interviewing Herbert Benson M.D. In his new book “Relaxation Revolution” he talks (more) about the health benefits of meditation. One of the exercises he described was one in which, during meditation, you illicit memories of a time when you were healthy. I’m curious about this technique, but I also wonder, isn’t this just another example of clinging?


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