Author Topic: Attachment to possessions  (Read 173 times)

garyatblackhouse

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Attachment to possessions
« on: June 03, 2018, 01:51:42 PM »
Hi friends in dhamma,

I wanted to ask about an issue I've been having as I'm sure the practice can help but I'm having a hard time making it so. This habit has played a big role in my life but I've never really talked about it, perhaps explaining here and getting guidance in dhamma will help.

This started about 18 months ago when heard about minimalism and took it to an extreme by getting rid of most of my possessions. I went on retreat that new year with one pair of clothes and quickly learned how nice it is to have a change half way through the retreat, I seen everyone else had a nice comfortable change or two and I felt poverty stricken by my own foolish actions. I'd realized I'd gone too far, and spent the rest of the retreat worrying and obsessing about this. This is a very first world problem but it's actually very hard to deal with.


After the retreat I began to add items and put my wardrobe back together. The thing is, I had a small list at the start, a few changes of clothes and some camping gear was all I needed to go fourth. But what happened and has been happening ever since is this spiral of buying and returning for various reasons, or buying then giving something away because I realize I don't want or need an item, or it could be replaced with something better or more suitable. The main problem I'm having aside from this not being economical or environmentally friendly is that I feel very impatient, despairing, unsettled until I actually have the next item on my mind-list and I know it works and I'm going to wear it or use it. After this I can settle and sort of "move on" but then later something else pops up. It's also time consuming, and in many ways feels like a waste of time.


There is a part of me that knows I actually have enough as it is. I can decide actually that I have enough to go on and live life and do what I want, but then this pattern comes back in to my mind saying you need this and that thing for this and that purpose. I have 3 changes of clothes and all the camping gear I wanted when I started out on this project of well, "completing my wardrobe." I really like living in this simple & minimalist way and I am a strong believer in "less options, more freedom." But I'm finding it hard to live by these principles even though I believe in them.

Recently I've got it in my head that I need a pair of jeans (or two) for an interview that's coming up for University and I will be potentially performing my music on stage sometime soon. So I went jeans shopping, and initially got 2 pairs that were 2 sizes too big for me, then I exchanged for a size smaller, upon further research I learn that jeans are meant to be tight in the shop because the wearer eventually grow in to them as they stretch.

So now I'm back to returning the items again for my normal size, the problem is, I feel like I can't live fully until I complete this task on Thursday, and I will prioritize this task over other things that would be much more productive and ultimately satisfying. It seems to futile and even juvenile but it really brings me down and I can't stop thinking about it time and time again. My mind keeps creating potential things that could go wrong within this action, like they may not have my size, and there is this fear that this spiral will just keep going and going as it has done over the last 18 months.

I understand that as laypeople there will always be thing we need to purchase and add in this external way. I'm also well aware that life has a habit of giving us what we need if we relax and let go and actually really need it. I wonder if perhaps I am forcing it and therefore it is never quite completing itself or working itself out? I wonder if I'm not getting what I want because I don't actually need it? I don't know, I guess my main question is how do we deal with this feeling of incompleteness while waiting to buy that item we need or think we need?
« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 01:54:52 PM by garyatblackhouse »
"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't begun." - Ajahn Chah

raushan

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Re: Attachment to possessions
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2018, 11:07:04 PM »
I feel you are reacting to your thoughts too much. Don't do anything. Just sit and relax and watch your mind what is going on. Just watch every thing. When it's telling you to buy more stuff, when it's telling you not to. When it's giving you anxiety. Just watch. Don't react.

Quote
So now I'm back to returning the items again for my normal size, the problem is, I feel like I can't live fully until I complete this task on Thursday, and I will prioritize this task over other things that would be much more productive and ultimately satisfying. It seems to futile and even juvenile but it really brings me down and I can't stop thinking about it time and time again. My mind keeps creating potential things that could go wrong within this action, like they may not have my size, and there is this fear that this spiral will just keep going and going as it has done over the last 18 months. 

It's nothing but your mind playing game with you. What ever fear, anxiety you are having just be with it. Remember Anicca. It will pass. Just be with all these mind turmoil and try to be aware of your breathing.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 11:16:00 PM by raushan »

garyatblackhouse

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Re: Attachment to possessions
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2018, 11:58:45 PM »
Thanks for your words raushan. This was a bit long-winded so I'm thankful to you for reading and responding.

I'm really trying to get with this and go right in to it with observation and also researching this topic today online I can see I am not the only who is experiencing this in the world. So many people feel they are lacking something and some new item will complete them, it's definitely not true but mind would like to think it is.

I know it's just a projection and not real in any sense but it really is mind-blowing how much the mind can run away with these thoughts. It's kind of like a small devil on my shoulder telling me to go and buy something else and just when I've decided I don't need something it fights back. I actually do need a pair of pants for this interview, that is a reality, but my mind adds so much anxiety and fear over this small task ahead of me and it keeps trying to add more stuff to what I actually need. Like for example if I decide I need one pair of jeans you can bet I'll convince myself I need two. I feel the repetitive and compulsiveness of this behavior pattern over this past year or so has made this a very deep rooted tendency. Maybe it will take a long time to come out of it.

Just watch every thing. When it's telling you to buy more stuff, when it's telling you not to.


This is a very interesting point. I was only seeing this from one side, giving more importance to the side that wants something and less or none to the side that doesn't. Thanks for pointing this out.

It was great to put this in writing today, maybe I should even talk to some people about it in person, it seems so personal and I'm shy or fearful to show this part of myself to others. But in reality it's probably not such a big deal, my mind is only trying to make it so.
"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't begun." - Ajahn Chah

Middleway

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Re: Attachment to possessions
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2018, 01:45:38 AM »
Hi Garyatblackhouse,

Your past conditioning (your habits/impulses) has momentum which makes you to act on it over and over again. You will strengthen your conditioning if you keep acting on your impulses unconsciously (compulsively). The only way you can break free from past conditioning is to keenly observe while it works itself out (i.e exhausts itself out). You have to observe without interfering. If you observe but not react as Roshan is pointing out, you are still interfering. In fact, you are suppressing your urge/compulsion which will then end up in the basement of your mind only to sprout at another time with a vengeance. So, you have to keenly observe yourself while you act on your impulses. The more you observe without interference, then they (your past impulses) will lose grip over you (over time) as they exhaust and naturally drop by themselves.

Warm regards,

Middleway

« Last Edit: June 04, 2018, 01:47:11 AM by Middleway »
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

garyatblackhouse

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Re: Attachment to possessions
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2018, 06:03:00 PM »
Thank you Middleway, very helpful.

Been working on this a lot today. I wont be going to the shops until Thursday, so plenty of time to practice and observe this, as it is an ever-looming thought process. Maybe I can turn it in to an opportunity and a blessing rather than a hindrance to life and a curse!
"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't begun." - Ajahn Chah

raushan

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    • S. N. Goenka switched to Samatha Forest Tradition
Re: Attachment to possessions
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2018, 07:20:30 PM »
Thanks Middleway, for correction.

garyatblackhouse,

It seems you are on the right track.