I've been re-reading Relaxing into Your Being by B. K. Frantzis and redoing some of the exercises. I find that it can be easy to take exercises for granted if you do them long enough without really checking in on the source material you drew them from. In my latest reading of this book, the author made a point about how you can cultivate non-attachment and still feel desire and passion for life. I thought it was an interesting point and he further clarified by explaining that when you feel attachment to specific outcomes, what you feel is a reaction to the attachment, something that is obsessively pursued for the sake of the attachment as opposed to genuine appreciation or passion. And I find from my own experiences that this is indeed the case. I have been obsessive at times in my pursuit of specific experiences, in a reactive, non-reflective way that has been more about trying to satisfy an urge as opposed to really being present and understanding the urge. And my pursuit has always left me feeling unsatisfied and more empty than before and yet I have continued on as if the next experience will somehow be different. It never has been.
This is why I've made some changes in my life that I never would have entertained before a couple of years ago. I've come to recognize over time that so much of my behavior has been habitual behavior focused on trying to satisfy an attachment. And all this as really provided me is a sense of loneliness and emptiness that has left me more hungry, more starving, like a Hungry ghost, with a tiny mouth and a bloated belly that can never get enough, and is compulsive about trying to get something, anything, into its belly, without really savoring what it is having. I have recognized these behaviors in my sexual appetites and in my eating habits, and I haven't liked the results or the person I have been.
My choice to recognize attachment and obsession for what it is and then to step away from it and cultivate non-attachment hasn't been easy. It's been on-going work for almost ten years, and in all that time I feel like I've only really begun to make progress in the last couple years as a result of making some lifestyle changes. And yet I find that making those changes hasn't deprived me of the joy or passion that I can feel. I still love to write and paint and practice magic. And I still enjoy food and sex. If anything I enjoy them more because I am no longer pursuing them obsessively, but instead I am choosing to be mindful, to appreciate my experiences, but not be attached to the feelings around the experience. And I am continuing to cultivate non-attachment because it is helping me be more mindful of of my environment and other people.
I don't associate passion with attachment precisely because it is possible to feel passion and not be attached. When I paint a painting, I feel passion for the act of painting and enjoy it as an expression of creativity. I don't feel attachment because it's not something I feel a "need" to do. And I recognize that if I feel a "need" to do something that I should examine that need closely and ask what it really is. Is it a compulsion, something I am doing to try and fill something or is is it a genuine need that needs to be addressed? There is a distinct difference and understanding that difference helps immensely when dealing with attachments. And I recognize that passion, when healthy is a joyful expression of life that doesn't drive a person so much as it supports him/her in the experience.