Oct 2, 2007

Letting go of attachments

Last August I spent a week at The Monroe Institute in Virginia in a program called “Heartline.” What I like the most about TMI is that I get to spend 6 days by myself to work on whatever comes up. Both the beautiful setting in the Blue Ridge mountains, and the Hemi-Sync technology facilitate the process of going within.

My experience at TMI is often like opening Pandora’s box. After one or two days of experiencing 5 or 6 Hemi-Sync tapes a day, stuff is popping up from my unconscious that I hardly remembered was there. It all begins to surface in a very visual – sometimes painful -- way.

It's always helpful during these programs to set an intention. As I thought about it while driving to Charlottesville, I knew right away what I wanted to focus on. Though I have known this intellectually for a while, until this summer, I had not experienced how my attachment to my "special relationships," was standing in the way of my experiencing peace of mind. I became aware of how much my happiness depended on other people's love and approval. I also experienced a general disillusionment with special relationships.

It was clear to me that at the level of form I didn’t need to change anything. I can act the same around the people I love. However, at the level of mind, I sensed it would be helpful to be aware that my happiness comes from my Source and not from the outcome of situations involving special relationships.

A Course in Miracles calls “special relationships,” the relationships of the ego. These relationships, are substitutes we have chosen for the love of God. The ego, being the thought of separation in our minds, feels incomplete and constantly seeks for fulfillment in others. Page 345 of the Text says “The search for the special relationship is the sign that you equate yourself with the ego and not with God.” When I look for approval, love or comfort in others I am identifying myself with my ego. Through special relationships we attempt to fill the emptiness we feel as separated beings. As we allow our happiness to depend on our relationships, we further identify ourselves with the ego and our own body.

Special relationships are the ego's most effective tool for reinforcing the separation. Our constant seeking for joy and completeness outside of ourselves occupies our mind with illusions that keep us from the memory of our real Self which remains united in perfect Oneness with our Creator. The ego's purpose is to keep us mindless. As our attention is focused on the distractions of the world we forget that we are choosing to identify with the ego and that we can choose again.

A few tapes into the Heartline program, we are guided to Focus 12 – one of my favorite focus levels. Focus levels are meditative states in which the body is asleep, but the mind is awake. Unaware of the body, the mind is freer to explore within. In F12, I’m in perfect quiet; my mind is still. I offer this space to the Holy Spirit (the part of my mind that remembers I am one with God) to lead me to whatever experience will be most helpful. Within seconds, one by one, my closest friends, family, mentors, fellow club members, past program participants, trainers, appear in front of my mind’s eye. As they pass by, I viscerally experience the joy or pain each relationship has brought me. I see bits and pieces of past situations – like vignettes flashing in front of me. I re-live some happy moments and some sad ones. My sensitivity is so heightened that every small disappointment - every tiny incident which didn't bother me when it happened now appears painful beyond measure.

Through the experience I see how my peace of mind has been compromised by my attachment to special relationships. I recognize how the ego in me is dependent on the outcome of every interaction. If a situation goes well according to the ego's judgment, I'm happy, if it doesn't, I'm unhappy. I tell myself that now is the time to let go of these attachments - I want to be free. I look at the people in my life, especially those with whom I feel vulnerable. I want to let go of my attachment to them, but I feel huge resistance; the attraction is too strong. The thought crosses my mind that by this pain I know that I'm alive. By experiencing pain is how I can recognize what happiness is.

I come out of the exercise abruptly – my heart is beating hard and I am paralyzed with fear. I am just not ready to give up my attachment to special relationships. As much as I’ve paid lip service to wanting detachment, right now, it feels as a great sacrifice. As I examine my thoughts I realize that what I'm really afraid of is giving up my own ego and the specialness with which I'm totally identified.

After lunch I sit by the pool to read the Text. I open it randomly and read “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here….Find comfort rather than despair in this: you could not long find even the illusion of love in any special relationship here. For you are no longer wholly insane…..The Holy Spirit asks only this little help of you: Whenever your thoughts wander to a special relationship which still attracts you, enter with Him into a holy instant, and there let Him release you…… And your willingness need not be complete because His is perfect.” (T-16.VI.8-12)

I breathe deep relief as I read and I decide to invite the Holy Spirit to look at the situation with me during the next exercise. Back in Focus 12, again the people in my life appear one by one in front of me. As I look at each one with with the Holy Spirit next to me, I see them differently – these friends, family, teachers, are projections in my dream. I have projected my own desires and orchestrated every situation to serve a purpose. With the ego, the purpose is to reinforce the separation between us. As I let go of the ego's hand and take the Holy Spirit's a new purpose emerges for every situation which involves every one of my special relationships - they become a classroom. Each one of my brothers holds a ticket Home. They are there so that I can forgive them. I tell each one (from Gary Renard's CDs) “You are Christ, pure and innocent. All is forgiven and released.” I feel lighter as I let each of them go. I thank the Holy Spirit for allowing me to see through His eyes.

Writing about my experience in my journal, I realize that as long as I identify myself with my ego, I will not be able to completely let go of my attachment to special relationships. A step in the right direction is simply to notice my attachment and to realize that I'm choosing the ego instead of the love of God. If I were able to let all of my attachments completely, I wouldn’t be here. In the meantime, I’ll keep forgiving – over and over again.