My, we do like our piles, don’t we? This entire series is sort of about piles of stuff—all that changes is the content of the pile. I’ve listed “money, possessions, titles, jobs” for today’s discussion, but that’s not the end of it, by a long shot. Because unstuffing from stuff is hard.
Stuff could include eating too much of the wrong foods, drinking too much booze (or anything-coffee, tea, water…) or being stuffed to the gills with the stories you tell yourself.
If you take a step back from it, you begin to see that each pile is about how you identify yourself.
- I am this / not that.
- I have this / I never want that.
- here are my collected fears / these are my collected passions.
photo by bls_number_1fan
Much of what I do is to get people, first, to acknowledge that their pain (called dukkha in Buddhism, normally translated ‘suffering,’ but actually meaning ‘unease’ or ‘unsatisfactoriness,’) comes from their death-grip (clinging to) on their piles. This is a monumental task, as, until you aren’t, you are a fish swimming in the water of your stuff—your beliefs, identifications, and possessions.
And no fish knows it’s in water until you yank ‘him’ out.
Being (in the main) good little consumers, we teethed by chewing and swallowing capitalism. The premise there is there is never enough.
I reframe this as “You can never get enough of the things that do not help.” I mention this because our entire culture is built upon the sand of happiness being directly related to more, more, more. We have an almost knee-jerk aversive reaction to the thought of giving this up.
And, of course, we pile up education, roles, descriptions, and diagnoses.
Many people come to me with the question, “What’s wrong with me? Or, “Why can’t I feel my body,” or “Where are all of the good [wo]men?” As if another diagnosis will change things for the better. I refuse to bite, because my opinion would only become one more item in a pile of stuff.
Here are 5 ways to begin to unpack your stuff.
It was an insight. She’d gone inside and actually noticed her holding patterns. And all holding patterns are about wanting more, or wanting less, of something. It’s a resistance to ‘what is.’
So, pay attention to your body! As you interact with stuff—people, situations, objects—keep track of what’s going on, physically, for you. Where are you tight, in pain, gripping? Breathe into those areas, and see if they loosen.
The key is to notice where you first grip or tighten as you confront a gripping/sticking point. If you commit to scanning this/these area[s] regularly, you’ll soon be aware of the games you play with yourself.
When it comes to our stuff—our stories, our beliefs, the contents of the places we live—we want some sense of permanence, or rightness, or correctness. We judge ourselves to be a certain way, and resist letting go of the judgement.
As you feel your mind going to judgment, have a breath, and ask yourself, “What am I holding onto here?” Am I always this? Am I always anything? If I let go of this [belief, judgement, thing] will I cease to be? Then, have a breath, and let it go.
This is what mind does when sitting, as you attempt to simply observe your breath. ONe reason to meditate is to notice this mental process. Our minds, in a sense, never shut up—what with judgements, aversions, attractions and lusts, games and projects.
And all of this is just what happens.
As you notice, return to observing the breath, in and out. In and out. Notice the pause at the top and the bottom of the breath. Bring yourself back to your breath. Let go, for a moment, to clinging to your mind’s chatter.
When attracted to a thing—“Boy, will driving this car, wearing this outfit, really make an impression!”—have a breath, and acknowledge the rightness of your words. People will either think you are special, a jerk, or won’t think about you at all (attraction, aversion, neutrality.) So, whatever you do, others “see it.” You just havbe no control over how they see it.
No matter what you do, people do what they do. You have no influence on others—they decide from within their own judgments.
So, ask yourself—am I clinging to this thing, or simply enjoying it and putting it down?
Great idea. Start a pile reduction project. Fire people who are into clinging, piles, judging. Fire the part of you that is into this stuff, too. (In other words, stop letting this side of you run the show. Send it off to clean the toilets or something…)
If you haven’t used something in 6 months, throw it out, or donate it. Get into the habit of letting go.
Then, look at things you would find helpful, but are ignoring. Meditate. Sit. Breathe. Move. Get Bodywork. Dance. Engage and release your passion. Come into “present moment being.”
And in each case, allow what emerges to emerge,
to persist, to fade, and to cease, clinging to nothing.
Clinging to no thing.
Lastly, feel your self. Literally and figuratively.
Get in touch with your energy—the flow of chi within you. You can use the Bodywork section of our site for hints, or do yoga, tai chi, or Qi Gong. (We’re working on a dvd of this.)
Or, go see someone who can help you direct your attention ever inward, to the core of you, to the rising and falling of your energy, your breath, and your experience.
Notice how all of this flows like the tides of the ocean, coming and going. Be in this flow.
See how this sits with you.