One of the things we learn through contemplation is to look at each and every life experience as an opportunity to experience healing, growth and transformation and to be open to seeing the new life that is always the universe’s promise to us. I had an opportunity to experience the fruits of this kind of outlook when the PBS episode in which I was a featured guest was pre-empted for coverage of the devastation in Haiti. In the old days (before contemplation), I would have been disappointed, frustrated, impatient and maybe even angry. I would have received this scheduling change as some sort of rejection and found myself in the pits of self-imposed depression.
Thanks to diligent attention to a contemplative practice, I am free to respond to this scheduling change with 99% non-attachment (Yes, there is 1% of me that felt a little disappointed, but that is as far as it went) and to trust that the universe has more fortuitous timing in mind. Along with an optimistic and hopeful outlook, contemplation has helped me to experience the benefits of non-attachment. Non-attachment is most commonly referred to in the Eastern Mystical traditions and is defined by Wikipedia as follows:
Non-attachment is a state in which a person overcomes his or her attachment to desire for things, people or concepts of the world and thus attains a heightened perspective.
According to Buddhist teaching, non-attachment is one of the attitudes we are invited to cultivate in the journey toward enlightenment. Non-attachment allows us to be freed of the egoic desires that are at the root of much of our human suffering. In a state of non-attachment, we are able to let go of our human tendency to desire a particular outcome of any given situation. Being freed of this desire allows us to surrender to the universe and to Divine providence that sees every situation as a path to our higher good. Accepting the outcome for what it is, rather than judging it as right, wrong, desired, or undesirable, allows us to be open to the outcome that arises and perceive it as in our higher good, regardless of how our ego may be tempted to judge it.
For today anyway, I am grateful for the ability to face the PBS schedule change with hopefulness rather than disappointment and even more importantly, I am grateful for the contemplative life that has allowed me to learn and embrace the gift of non-attachment.
Come join me on Monday at 7pm or Tuesday at 11am for an opportunity to cultivate contemplation in your own life!