“Love never hurts – attachment does.” Venerable Robina Courtin
Love often gets confused with attachment. However, love is something we have to give, whether to others, our community, or ourselves. The giving of love, and love itself, while sometimes difficult, is not painful. If we love someone, we truly want the best for them and for their happiness, regardless of whether that includes us in their life. Our attachment to others, possessions, and activities limit our ability to give our love openly and freely. Attachment is transactional and conditional, contingent upon the happiness and good feelings we receive. With attachment, we love people when they benefit us or bring us joy and that love can disappear in an instant when they hurt our feelings. The person we cannot live without can become the person we can’t live with.
Whenever we have mental and emotional suffering, we will find attachment. All of us who have struggled with addiction know well the suffering of attachment. However, attachment comes in many forms. It is not simply wanting people, things, and events to give us joy. Aversion, another form of attachment, is when we are attached to avoiding certain people and things. Our attachments are usually based on the exaggerated qualities we superimpose upon people and events in our lives, creating a belief that somehow they can make us happy. At best, the people and events in our lives can provide us with times of temporary joy. All of our relationships have ups and downs and we can even get tired of our favorite meal. If we look at our lives, we will find we’ve all had extreme tragedies and incredible joys, all of which came and went. More lasting and genuine happiness arises from the love we bring into our relationships and activities. The most wonderful thing to know is, while we don’t have control over the events and people in our lives, we do have control over the amount of love and attention we bring to them.
Equanimity is the antidote to attachment and aversion. With equanimity, we can learn to give our love without attachment but with discernment. We can learn to make wise choices that are truly beneficial to ourselves and others, instead of unhealthy or enabling choices out of attachment and clinging. Non-attachment is not the same as detachment. When one is detached they are indifferent and disconnected. One can be fully engaged and more free to love when they are not attached to the outcome. In fact, it is the only way to truly love.
Today, I would invite you to notice your attachments and aversions. Call some to mind and reflect on whether or not you can live with or without them. Does this bring up fear and insecurity? Do they limit your ability to make healthy choices? Throughout your day, try to be aware of small attachments and aversions and notice if they tempt you to put aside some of your values. If you’re up to it, we encourage you to not succumb to them and see how that feels.
– John Bruna
From the daily guidance in the Mindfulness in Recovery and Mindful Life Communities on the Mindful Life Network – Copyright © 2021 Mindful Life Program, All rights reserved.
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