The second element of non-attachment is faith. We need to put our faith in our internal source, rather than outer world individuals, groups or saviors. This faith comes from the feeling, and later knowing, that all is in God's hands. So, to learn this non-attachment, first look into each of your life activities for where you need to give more freedom, whether with your children, your spouse or partner, your work circumstances or your involvement with community. Next, use your meditation time to reflect on where you most powerfully put your faith. Do you rely heavily on the company paycheck and your 401K to make you feel secure? Do you insist on family meeting your expectations so that you feel comfortable? Do you subtly or even unconsciously live life like the Joneses to feel a sense of acceptance and stability? Continue your meditation until you can write down at least three ways in which you can put your faith in Spirit or Christ or God. Make these acts of faith specific and on-going habits. Good examples of specific habits can be giving up your control of the household finances to your spouse who is less concerned about each expenditure; helping your partner make the changes to live her/his passion, not just bringing in another paycheck; dealing with an on-going family issue that seems like it could drive you apart if confronted; or change your way of dealing with your children to less authoritative parenting and more lovingly mentoring (teach them self-responsibility, not following your directions).
Step Two: Always seek what is better in every life situation.
7th Spiritualizing Habit:
Leave Everything Better
by Jef Bartow
Most of us are all taught to do a good job from the time we were a child, whether it's cleaning up our room, taking out the trash or helping with dinner. Unfortunately, many times we are put in positions where we don't feel we can do a good job. If you surveyed most corporate environments in this country, a large group of both employees and management will convey the limitations on high performance. The same goes for parenting. Even with all the self-help literature, education and counseling available, most parents still end up parenting like their own parents, about average. This spiritualizing habit is not about improving performance on day-to-day tasks. It is about implementing a change in attitude and orientation toward life circumstances.
The first thing for all of us to realize is that we will leave everything and everyone we know at some point in our life, especially at death. Leaving is inevitable. It is normally only when and how we leave that we have control of. In addition, many of us have lived through life changes where we felt we did not have any control at all. Examples include moving to a new city, the divorce of our parents, the end of a romantic relationship, a job layoff or a close friend moving away.
This habit is not about contemplating our death. Part of it is about learning what eastern mystics call "non-attachment." So how do we do it? Let's start with the fact that we will leave everything sooner or later.
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Step One: Learn Non-attachment.
In order to live with Buddha after death, one must practice the four "Brahma Abodes." These practices are called the "four immeasurable minds" and include love, compassion, joy and equanimity. These practices are immeasurable "because if you practice them, they will grow in you every day until they embrace the whole world." Equanimity here means nonattachment, nondiscrimination, even-mindedness and letting go. So what does it mean to learn non-attachment or equanimity? The first element is freedom: continually giving the freedom for each person and situation to move forward naturally and without our control. A good visualization for this is seeing twigs floating in a river. The currents of the river are Spirit. The twigs are us humans. As we move down the river, there are times in which we're all gathered close, either moving slowly or quickly. At other times we flow around rocks or other obstacles one by one. There can definitely be a togetherness flowing in Spirit, but we are individual twigs and must fulfill our individual destiny for Spirit.
Since we now have a nonattached attitude about end results, we can approach every situation objectively to make things better. A good example is our work situation. There is always room for things to improve and operate better. So, take your own work responsibilities and define how you can make things better.
As a parent, how can you better contribute to your child's growing, learning and stability in life? How can you help your spouse or partner better help your child’s life? What can you do, give or change to improve your romantic relationship?
The overriding important principle here involves putting on a magical pair of glasses that shows you how things can be better and how you can make it happen. You put on these glasses in each life situation until they become a permanent part of how you see the world.
Step three: Communicate what is better or possible, not what is wrong.
A big part of how we maintain control of situations is how we communicate. In addition, many times the way we try to improve something is by bringing up what’s wrong and what others should do to fix it. This negative form of communication and underlying attitude rarely brings good results.
For the next week or so, look to become aware of how you communicate and what you're thinking when you're communicating. See how many times a day you get into the negative communication mode identified above. See what percentage of your day is focused on what others need to do versus what you can do to improve things.
Once you have a good picture of your communication style, then identify how you can communicate more positively. You may have to use the: count to 10 before you speak in some situations. Even if you still begin by thinking negatively, stop yourself before you speak and identify how you can turn your comments into a positive.
Step Four: Cultivate your replacement.
Another powerful way to leave everything better is to create an orientation of always cultivating your replacement. This is the antithesis of much of our conditioning, but a powerful spiritual practice. First, realize that all things will change in spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is about change, transformation and transmutation.
Practically, this is first identifying who or what could replace you in your various roles, and then secondly taking steps to make it possible. If ultimately there is not a spiritual need for your replacement, so be it. If there is, then you're prepared.
Within your work situation, this means identifying a subordinate who you can cultivate as your placement. It’s also about cultivating ways in which your children can learn and develop without your direct dependent involvement. Remember, this is not mean walking away from your responsibilities and relationships, just creating more quality involvement while fostering spiritual development for others. I bet your asking yourself: Am I supposed to cultivate my replacement for my spouse and children? Not exactly. As mentioned regarding your children, it's helping them to be more independent and self responsible. The more you do this when they're young, the better they’re prepared for the realities of life without a highly protective parent. Regarding your spouse, it is about reducing your spouse’s dependency on you. It is helping your spouse to be more independent and self-reliant. As your relationship becomes more inter-independent and less co-dependent, the fantastic opportunity blossoms for accelerated spiritual growth for both of you.