Zero Attachment, Zero Anxiety: Insight from Martha
I have put myself on a very strict health regimen this summer. It has nothing to do with eating or exercise; it is a thought/emotion regimen, which, in the end, has many more concrete results than any physical diet one could undertake. My program is the “zero attachment, zero anxiety” diet. Mind you, shooting for no anxiety or attachment at all is extremely ambitious, and not something I would have undertaken five or even two years ago. It was only after twenty-some years of meditation and daily “mental hygiene” (noticing and dissolving all thoughts that cause suffering) that it even occurred to me to shoot for absolute clarity.
So far, I am failing abjectly.
Nevertheless, my goal has helped me see many glaring issues that before seemed so minor as to be inconsequential. The most striking thing I’ve realized is that the thought of “magnetizing,” or drawing things toward me, contains the assumption that what I want is “out there” in the world and I have to go find it. It creates a feeling of distance and inaccessibility. When I release all attachment and all anxiety, I notice that the things I want feel present and inevitable, as real as humidity in summer air.
When the temperature of a day reaches the dew point, the moisture in the air, which is invisible to the eye, suddenly appears everywhere. It was always there; it just needed a certain temperature to become visible. Similarly, everything we need to make us happy is waiting for the “temperature” of our inner life to create the dew point where it can become material form. The dew point temperature of all your desires is a feeling of normalcy. It is not high excitement, nor grasping, nor yearning. All of those emotions contain anxiety and attachment — try them right now, you’ll see.
To give you an example of what this feels like, think about the feeling you have watching a beautiful sunrise. You may experience awe and intense gratitude, but you will not be thunderstruck, amazed or hysterical. A sunrise is glorious, but it is normal. We aren’t attached to the sun continuing to shine because we are sure it will. If you can feel that way about the arrival of your soul mate or the success of your business, my recent experience convinces me it will appear around you like dew. Everything you want is there right now, waiting to become visible.
The emotions I’ve learned to soften and dissolve during my “no anxiety, no attachment” regimen are things like intense excitement and amazement. Even amazement implies that a good thing was unexpected or incredible, not that it was normal. Try replacing amazement with awe in your own life. Replace yearning with the knowledge that what you need is inevitably yours – that you are actually pushing it away with any grasping or yearning you may feel.
I realize this is exactly the opposite of the advice I wrote down years ago in my book, The Joy Diet. This is why we must always keep up with current research. I take it back and expect that all of you will graciously forgive me for my previous oversight, because I live and work with the most incredible people in the world – which is absolutely and totally normal.