The difference between attachments and emotions

In one of Ram Dass’s lectures years ago he talked about giving an interview where he was asked “are you happy”? “yes” responded Ram Dass, “are you sad” “yes” replied Ram Dass. He was illustrating the point that most of us find difficult to grasp and that is you can experience the whole range of emotions at one point in time because you are not attached to them.

When we develop attachments we are looking for gratification from the fruits of our actions, we are focused on the outcome. When it is something we want, we feel happy and when it isn’t we feel something different and generally an emotion we don’t want so we push it away because we experience that emotion as pain.

Being attached means that we are always looking for something and in that state we never let go of our suffering as we are never satisfied with what we have, charity shops are full of peoples’ sufferings! In order to go beyond suffering we need to develop equanimity so that every experience that comes to greet us in our lives just is, it is neither good or bad, happy or sad, it just is, it is something for us to work with. The problem for us human beings, as Eckhart Tolle would state, is that we are too associated with our ‘pain bodies’ to be conscious enough of how to let go of our emotional attachments, to us we are our emotions!

When I was a little girl my mother taught me “never show your emotions in public”. That instruction was very harmful and it has taken me a lifetime to overcome this and still I find it difficult to express what I feel inside, even with my husband! My mother had experienced a lot of suffering in her life and not just because she had come through the Second World War and she was one of the most loving people I had the privilege to know. Unlike attachments, here I am talking about expressing something you feel deep inside, something that springs from your heart.

When you enter a spiritual journey, where you bring your life into the light and live as consciously as you can you feel a connectedness to all around you, every living creature, a tree, a small insect and although I am not a practicing Buddhist I am very careful when out walking or driving not to inadvertently kill anything. I am the person in the garden giving blessings to my vegetables before I pick them, or telling my plants how beautiful they are. This is not an  affectation but something that springs naturally from my heart, I feel grateful for what my garden brings me. Just so when I find a poor animal that has been run over in the road or I read a moving passage in a book, tears spring spontaneously into my eyes as I feel the suffering of that life in my heart. This emotion is not due to any attachment but from my innate sense of connectedness to everything around me. I am pleased to let my emotions flow like this because unlike my mother I am now able to express my emotions freely. Like Ram Dass I feel all of my emotions at anyone point in time and alas, unlike Ram Dass I still have some way to go before giving up my attachments but I am working on it.


About Yoga - Sunyata

I have been very fortunate to have trained with some of the best teachers in their fields. In the UK I learnt Yoga under Cheryl Sayers in Cambridge and later with Sivananda in France. Cheryl was an authentic experienced Hatha Yoga teacher who hadbeen taught by her father in India from the age of 7, she became my spiritual teacher. I learnt Reiki and Indian Head Massage with Chris Cuzons, renowned Natural Therapy Teacher in East Anglia. I studied psychotherapy with the Central School for Counselling Training and I practiced for a while in the Chatteris Doctor’s Surgery in Cambridgeshire and here I championed the introduction of holistic therapies in the local Primary Health Care Trust with the aid of Help the Aged. Latterly I was a connsellor in France in my clinic there and provideing a telephone service as well. I am again studying Mindfulness based Psychotherapy with Karuna Institute Devon at post Masters level. I was lucky to go France and learn Traditional Yang style Tai Chi with Anya Meot, Philippe Pastor and Master Tung in Toulouse and Paris. I learnt and practiced Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine with Daniel Menini in Toulouse and I opened my own practice in France in the small canton town of Aurignac in the Haute Garonne. I went to Japan to continue my studies in Chinese Medicine with Masanori Okamoto in the Tokyo Therapeutic School. Latterly in Ireland, I have undertaken continued professional development with Eddie Dowd in the College of Oriental Medicine. As a teacher of meditation I studied with the Western Buddhist Order in Cambridge, Shambhala in Toulouse France and Tibetan Buddhist mindfulness in London and Ireland. I studied Mediumship at the Arthur Findlay College. My studies do not stop here.
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