Archive

Non-Attachment

FOCUS POCUS NOTE! FocusPocus is now one complete post (art, focus, playlists and announcements) all together on Thursdays! So whether you come to the blog for the art, the information, the music or the latest happenings and offerings, you are in the right place. Every Thursday, you’ll get it all. Thank you so much for being here.

My word for 2019 is CLEAR. I’ve been practicing all sorts of clearing – from my closets and desk, from my computer, from my diet, from my schedule. I can bump up against all kinds of feelings of fear and anxiety (I might need that! I want to hold onto that!) but ultimately, when the clearing comes from a place of alignment, a Big Yes, it always feels like an easeful exhale once I do it.

I love what Stephanie Bennet Vogt says about it:
Clearing is not about getting rid of. It’s not about getting rid of things. It’s not about getting rid of worry. It’s not about getting rid of pain. It’s about letting them go.
What is something you’re wanting (even reluctantly) to let go of? Something physical, a thing? A habit? A pattern of thinking? A toxic relationship? What does it feel like to imagine letting it go instead of getting rid of it?
This meditation from Insight Timer, The Gift Of Receiving by Fleur Chambers helped me soften into the recognition that I cannot receive anything if my hands are already full. https://insig.ht/8H0sRPVs40
Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

Lots of events are unfolding, friends, so before the playlists, here is all the details on what’s coming up!

ARTCHO 2019 ~ Saturday, November 2, 1030am-530pm
I’m excited to be part of ARTCHO 2019: a community art festival in at Ix Art Park in Charlottesville, Virginia (artcho.org). ARTCHO is an annual festival bringing the people of Charlottesville together to enjoy art, music, and food in a relaxed, family-friendly environment. Dozens of artists exhibit high quality artwork at prices that regular folks can afford. Local restaurants and talented musicians will keep you well-fed and entertained while you browse a broad selection of original art by Virginia’s best creatives. The festival is free and open to the public and benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. I’ll be doing art demonstrations at my booth all day ~~ dancing will also be happening! See you there!

Nia teaching shift ~ Loring on Wednesdays at 11am, Rachel on Tuesdays at 545pm
After teaching almost exclusively at acac for nearly 20 years, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to teach mindful movement in a healing environment. I’ve been offered the chance to move with people recovering from eating disorders and in order to do it, I will let go of the Wednesday 11am class. Starting on October 30, Loring will teach on Wednesdays at Albemarle Square so I can follow this opportunity. Jeanne’s circumstances have also shifted so starting on October 29, Rachel will be teaching the Tuesday evening class at 545pm.

Nourishing Movement Classes at the Studio at Dancing Water on Thursday mornings at 11am!
Nourishing Movement classes with Susan on Thursdays at 11am ~~ my mix of guided and unguided movement, meditation and creativity! Please go to http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop for the details. Come join us in the trees by the river for grounded, flowing, spacious movement. Second Thursdays are followed by a pot luck lunch! Nourish yourself with movement and bring something nourishing to share! There is space in upcoming classes so please go HERE to sign up!
* The Studio at Dancing Water is at 2370 Old Lynchburg Road ~ detailed directions at http://www.susanmcculley.com and via email when you sign up!

November Nourishment at Dancing Water ~ 3 Nourishing Movement classes for $30!
As the holidays approach, nurture yourself with 3 classes of Nourishing movement at The Studio at Dancing Water. Three Thursdays, November 7, 14 and 21 from 11-12:15pm for just $30. Must be purchased by November 7!

Full Moon Restorative Yoga with Shandoah Goldman ~~ Mon, Nov 11, 430-6pm

The full moon is a time of completion. The fullness of the cycle lends itself to a practice of non-doing. Join Shandoah Goldman at The Studio at Dancing Water (2370 Old Lynchburg Road, Charlottesville) for a deeply nourishing practice of restorative yoga. Using props to offer support and comfort, the body is invited to profoundly let go and unwind. Rather than efforting or stretching, this is the practice of releasing and relaxing. We’ll celebrate what is finished and soften into the next cycle. Shandoah is a gifted guide for deep release and is a Shiatsu practitioner offering hands on assists during class. All bodies welcome, no experience in yoga or anything else is needed.
Monday (Moonday!), Nov 11, 430-6pm at The Studio at Dancing Water, $30

Scholarships Available for all Experiences at The Studio at Dancing Water
We have delicious experiences coming up at The Studio AND we have scholarships available for them. If finances are stopping you from joining us, please reach out and let me know (PM me or connect at sjmnia@gmail.com).

Book Signing and Art Demonstration at Cville Arts
Saturday, December 14, 11-12noon
Come see how Octabusy was made with an art demonstration and book signing at Cville Arts on the downtown mall!

ORDER OCTABUSY!
Support local booksellers by ordering Octabusy
at Over The Moon Bookstore in Crozet (overthemoonbookstore.com, (434) 823-1144, Anne@OvertheMoonBookstore.com)
and buy it at New Dominion Bookshop on Charlottesville’s downtown mall (ndbookshop.com, 434-295-2552, staff@ndbookshop.com)
You can also order signed copies of Octabusy (including discounts on multiple copies) now on my website at susanmcculley.com/shop
and get Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon!
(And wherever you buy it, please leave a review there!)

The Movement Barn offers the GYROTONIC Method
Note from Susan: I recently had the good fortune to meet, move and have a GYROTONIC session with Casey Turner. I love the circular, functional, mindful approach of this technique. And I loved doing it with a view of the mountains in a field of flowers! Please check out her beautiful offerings.
The Movement Barn is a boutique fitness studio in Charlottesville, VA offering private GYROTONIC® sessions in a picturesque setting. Located in a field of wildflowers, The Movement Barn provides a unique workout experience for people of all ages and levels of ability. The GYROTONIC® Method is designed to increase strength, agility, and range of movement. This low impact system uses flowing exercises with circular and spiral motion to open energy pathways, stimulate the nervous system, and create space in the joints. For more information, visit http://www.themovementbarn.com, email catherine@themovementbarn.com, or follow @themovementbarn on Instagram!

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ Nov 1 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, Sep 6 from 11:25 -12:25.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Monday, Oct 28, 2019, 1045am ~ Let Go (Not Get Rid Of)

Snakeroot 7:58 Lis Addison
Alhambra Pt 1 1:21 Natacha Atlas
Live Life Free 5:41 Rapsody
Quero Saber (fest. Orieta Pines) 6:29 Rodney Hunter
Tus Pies (Your Feet) 5:21 Nahko and Medicine for the People
Lizobuya (The Return) 5:40 Mbongeni Ngema
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
Got To Give It Up (long version sax solo) 6:02 Marvin Gaye
Let Go 4:11 Frou Frou
Ho Doi 13:40 Yulara

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019, 840am ~ Let Go (Not Get Rid Of)

Snakeroot 7:58 Lis Addison
Alhambra Pt 1 1:21 Natacha Atlas
Live Life Free 5:41 Rapsody
Quero Saber (fest. Orieta Pines) 6:29 Rodney Hunter
Tus Pies (Your Feet) 5:21 Nahko and Medicine for the People
Lizobuya (The Return) 5:40 Mbongeni Ngema
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
Got To Give It Up (long version sax solo) 6:02 Marvin Gaye
Let Go 4:11 Frou Frou
The Essence Ten 4:24 Jeroen Elfferich

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019, 11am Nourishing Movement at the Studio at Dancing Water ~ Let Go (Not Get Rid Of)

Edge Hill 7:01 Groove Armada
Kecharitomene 6:35 Loreena McKennitt
Alhambra Pt 1 1:21 Natacha Atlas
Live Life Free 5:41 Rapsody
Quero Saber (fest. Orieta Pines) 6:29 Rodney Hunter
Tus Pies (Your Feet) 5:21 Nahko and Medicine for the People
Lizobuya (The Return) 5:40 Mbongeni Ngema
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
Got To Give It Up (long version sax solo) 6:02 Marvin Gaye
Let Go 4:11 Frou Frou
The Essence Ten 4:24 Jeroen Elfferich

melting expectation sri chimnoy quoteWhat are your expectations? Of the holidays? Your family? Your colleagues? Yourself? Expectations leave disappointment in their wake. There are consequences, young lady, when you don’t live up.

Judgment, criticism, blame:  all tied directly to somebody’s expectation.

What would happen if you let expectations melt away? If you replaced expectation’s icy tension with warm liquid flow? If you stayed open to the many ways this time of year can be and unhooked from attachment to how things turn out? What if you set the intention, planted the seed, gave the gift … and released it?

Ice to Water, Water to Steam.

melting expectations sjm xmas stocking 1967“Expectations are resentments under construction.”
~ Anne Lamott

‘Tis the season of expectation. I mean, honestly, it’s practically what December in the U.S. is about. What with the Christian season of advent (complete with an expecting mother and expectation of salvation), children everywhere writing lists of expected gifts, and all of us expecting the light and warmth to return to our side of the planet, expectation is woven into everything.

Desire and intention are one thing … but expectation has teeth. Expectation has an edge. There are inevitable consequences if expectations aren’t met. An expectation means that somebody is attached to an outcome and as a Buddhist teacher once pointed out, “Attachment to outcome: BEEEG problem.”

Especially at this time of year, it seems we have expectations for everything. We have expectations for meals and decorations and celebrations. For the way our friends and families should behave. For the way our children should respond. For way this time of year should feel. And Lord knows we have expectations of ourselves: to give a certain kind of gift, to look a certain way, and to be calm or cheerful or reverent or jolly.

Expectations are tricky and sticky. Trained as we are to gain approval and love from outside sources, most of us are programmed to do whatever we can to live up to expectations. But striving to get love for meeting someone’s expectations (including our own) is the prelude to resentment.

“The genius Taoists constantly give their full presence to scanning their whole body, locating any blocked or hard-to-describe discomforts, whereupon they say ‘Ice to Water, Water to Steam’ and literally use their imagination to SEE that place dissolve and the steam leave their body”. ~ Jamie Catto (see his full post here)

Expectations are the way we think things should be and that feels tight. There is next to no wiggle room in an expectation. Expectations are breath-holding brittleness and they are such a part of our lives that we often don’t realize they are there.

Expectations create tension in our activities, our meals, our parties, in our bodies. Expectations constrict. Something that started out as “I like to do it this way” (or “our family/religion/country likes to do it this way”) can morph into “I always do it this way” and then can mutate into “I have to do it this way.”

Stop reading for a second and notice anywhere where you feel tension in your body. Tension is where energy is stuck. Whether it is in your hamstrings or your heart, your thighs or your throat, tension is the body’s way of signaling to release and let flow. Release tension and more energy is available.

Especially at this time of year, our bodies and our minds can feel tight and dry. Mindful movement is a way of melting the dry tightness and introduces more liquid warmth to our experience. Whether mental, physical, or emotional tension, movement can allow the bristly edges of expectation soften.

Physicality affects the mind and emotions. Even just getting up from your desk to stretch and clear your mind can break up and melt the brittle hardness.

Our thoughts and imaginations affect the physical body. Imagining breathing space around you or light and love in and out of you can relax tension wherever it is lodged.

Sweat and tears and imagination all lend themselves to melting the hard edges of expectation and by extension, reducing the inevitable resentment that follows.

Let your intention be the hot skillet to icy expectation…Ice to water, water to steam.

perfection housewife“Perfect without Perfection.” — Plaque on my front door (click here for the whole “a-peeling” story)

I have a confession: every two weeks, I take leave of my senses. For 24 hours every two weeks, I will fish a single piece of paper out of a trash can, pick up a grain of rice from the kitchen floor, and move a lone pair of socks from a laundry basket. I’m telling you, every two weeks, I am crazy.

You see, every two weeks, my step-daughter and I clean our house. We clean the bathrooms, vacuum and wash the floors, dust every surface, empty every trash can. We wash sheets and towels and bathmats – even the welcome mat. We scrub the kitchen within an inch of its life and sweep the front porch of every leaf. And oh my gooshness, when we are done the place looks fantastic. It’s breathtaking, my friends. It is … perfect.

And for 24 hours after we’ve cleaned, I’m addicted to perfect. I don’t want anything in the trash cans or the laundry baskets. I don’t want a single crumb on the floor or on the counter. I want that little drain thingie in the sink to be spotless. I want to keep it perfect.

Perfect is exhausting, of course, and silly. Trash cans are meant for throwing things away and laundry baskets are what we put dirty clothes in. Life is meant for living. After a day of picking up every speck from my gloriously clean kitchen rug, I come to my senses and let it go.

I absolutely admit it: I’m a recovering perfectionist. It’s better than it once was. I’m aware of it now and can feel the tight sensation in my chest when I really want things to be the way I want them. There was a time I was absolutely sure about exactly how things (and I) should be. I really thought that if I could get things “perfect” then I would be safe and happy and nothing bad would happen. In fact, it was the opposite: I would be frantic and anxious and cause annoyance (if not exasperation) in the people around me. I understand better now that everything is as it should be and that miracles can unfold in what initially looks like a disaster. I know that life is messy. And yet there it is: for me, perfection has a magnetic pull.

As I observe my tendencies and their ramifications, I am immediately faced with the question: what is perfect, anyway? Without even looking too deeply at it, I can see that “perfection” is a completely subjective thing. The “perfect” purse for me is one that I can strap to my back, has a pocket for my phone, and I got for $2 at Goodwill. I’m guessing many would completely disagree about its perfectness. It’s confounding when I think about it this way and it makes me want to put my head down.

In my perfectly imperfect journey with perfectionism, a big part of letting it go is recognizing what I’m doing, relaxing, and then looking beyond the surface to see what I’m really after. Sometimes, what I want is control – over my environment, other people or my life. When that’s the case, it helps me to remember that everything is always changing and that change is the very nature of life—and this can help me let go of the single tissue in the trash can. Other times, I have the belief that my perfectionism will make me impervious to criticism or judgment. When that’s happening, I can seek out some tender loving connection (to myself or another) that reminds me that I am okay just as I am and of the positive contributions I make even if they are small.

There are other fuels for the perfectionist fire. Tomorrow I’ll share about the routine that is enflaming my perfectionism right now and what we’ll do in class to ease into a state of “perfect without perfection.” For now, my question is what is it for you? What gets in your way and stops you or undermines you? And what are you learning that helps you get unstuck? I’d love to hear all about it.

“A warrior[-bodhisattva, that is, a warrior of nonaggression who is willing to cut through personal reactivity and self-deception in order to alleviate suffering] accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next.  We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe.  But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty.  This not-knowing is part of the adventure.  It’s also what makes us afraid.”  ~ Pema Chödrön

One of my meditation teachers, Sharon Saltzberg, often says that we are all just one phone call away from the realization that life is uncertainty.  Here’s the truth:  we never know what will happen.  Any belief that we think we do know what will happen is an illusion.  We spend a lot of time and energy creating this mirage of safety and security.  And no matter what we do, all of us face moments when the veil of the illusion is lifted.

This week, it feels like uncertainty is everywhere.  Just in my little circle of people, just this week, I know someone who had major surgery, someone who got a devastating diagnosis, someone is waiting to have biopsy, someone is dealing with the serious illness of a loved one, and someone is facing decisions regarding end-of-life care for a beloved.  Each one of these people, just this week, are face-to-face with the uncertainty of life.  What they thought they knew may not be so.  What they were thinking would happen might not happen…or it might.

Each of us can recall a moment in our lives when our hearts stopped for a minute, when our minds reeled at the information we were receiving, when our stomach dropped and we thought, “Wait a minute.  What?  This can’t be happening.”

It can be uncomfortable to remember these times or to contemplate this precarious ledge on which we blithely walk every day.  It can be downright terrifying if we focus on it with a lot of intensity.  Damnation.  Think of all the things that could happen.  Yikes, y’all.

Here is where somatic practice, mindfulness practice, is so important and so helpful.  If, when things are not spiraling into the unwieldy unknown, we practice being present, being in our bodies, in this moment, noticing what is so without judgment, then when that call comes, or we’re waiting for the lab results, or for the surgeon to come out of the operating room, when things feel really, really uncertain, we can come back to that practice.  If we practice it when we don’t need it, the skills will be there when we do.

All these people in my life right now who are surfing the uncertain are amazing.  They have taught me what it is to be patient and gracious and about how to allow life to unfold.  Each one of them has demonstrated extraordinary presence and dignity whilst facing the ambiguity that is tumbling around them.  It is certainly possible that in the privacy of their own minds and hearts as they lean against their kitchen tables that they have not been so peaceful.  I know that would most certainly be the case for me.  And yet on some level and in some way they are being with what is happening, and it is remarkable to witness.

This week I did my CPR re-certification training that I do every year.  And just like every year, I walk out of the training on hyper-alert:  looking for excessive sweating, shortness of breath and slurred speech.  I look at every member at the gym and every participant in my class like a ticking time bomb.  That feeling wears off pretty quickly and yet when something does happen while I’m teaching I find that the yearly practice is there to support me.  I know what I need to do to get help to someone who is hurt.  Since I only practice CPR and emergency procedures once a year, when someone needs assistance during my class, I panic a little and sometimes bobble the ball.  Which is why frequent, regular practice is so important.  If I practiced it more often, I probably would panic less.  The same is true for mindfulness and it is why coming back to the present and sensation is so important.  The old patterns of fight or flight or freeze will kick in when we are under stress.  It takes some doing to make a different choice.  We are, in effect, going against our programing – both from evolution and from our distracted culture – to choose to be mindful and present.  And, my experience is that as challenging as it can be, it is worth the effort.

Whether you are chest deep in uncertainly right now, or if you just remember when you were, it is a good time to connect to the present moment.  Use the sounds around you, or your breath, or the physical sensations you are experiencing right now to anchor your attention and rest right here and right now.

Life is uncertain.  And we can make a choice to be with that uncertainty.  It just takes practice.

This post comes from the road (or the air, to be more accurate) somewhere between Houston and Charlottesville.  I’m returning after a week with Helen and Joe Terry at Soma Ranch in Montgomery, Texas, where I was re-taking the Nia Blue Belt training.  It was a rich and multidimensional week and I’m grateful for the experience, the connections, the insights (or to be truthful, the little baby edges of maybe-insights that I started to uncover).

First, an aside about Soma Ranch:  I confess that I don’t think of myself as a big Texas fan.  I didn’t really know what to expect an hour outside of Houston at a ranch in the middle of hundreds of acres of farm land with rescued donkeys in the pasture and a Cowboy Church just up the road.  For an old New Englander, it seemed like a bit of a stretch.  And you know what?  It was fantastic.  It was beautiful and peaceful in a big sky, deep breath kind of way.  Studying in the self-contained environment of the ranch allowed me to really focus on the training without distraction or external disruptions.  Helen’s vision for a beautifully designed, peaceful spa atmosphere offered (in general and tangibly in the three main rooms) Peace, Love and Joy.  Joe’s incredibly good cooking that awaited us thrice daily, left me feeling cleansed and nourished.  If you’re considering a Nia training, this is the place to do it.  If you’re looking for an introduction to the Body Ecology Diet, come here.  Soma Ranch is simply lovely.  Do go.  (And when you do, give Moonbeam and Luna – my two favorite donkeys – a little chin rub for me.)

The Nia Blue Belt focuses on Relationship, Communication and Intimacy.  Those three words have so much attached to them, so much complexity.  As I type them, it makes sense that I feel more than a little pooped after working with them all week.  At this moment, most of the training is a jumble of yet-to-be-processed sensations, ideas, emotions and possibilities.  I don’t have a great humming wisdom to bestow on you at this point, just a mumble jumble sense that that it was basically good and full of possibility.  However, as I travel home today, serendipity suggests that I share one sliver of the training with you.

Today, while waiting at my gate for my first flight, I read one of Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing blog posts.  He actually sent it out more than a week ago, and I didn’t have time to get to it then.  Usually my anal-retentive office manager-self demands that my email box be purged of any such detritus.  Instead, something about it caught my attention so I didn’t delete it.  The post was called “See What’s Likeable” and you can read it here.  Dr. Hanson talks about connecting with people, experiences, and objects with the intent of finding something to like about them.  He invites us to begin by “pick[ing] something simple – a meal, a room, a view out a window – and find something you like about it. Perhaps it is a particular taste, or the curve of a favorite armchair, or the way that light is playing on leaves outside. For a few seconds or longer, stay with it and let the sense of enjoyment grow. Be mindful of the experience of liking something.”  The idea is that by finding something likeable, we open up to the world and connect with it rather than withdraw.  And liking something or someone feels good!

During the Blue Belt, we played with a similar practice.  In Nia, we recognize that we are (in a mind-blowing kind of way) in relationship with everyone and everything on the planet (and in the universe, for that matter) all the time.  I’m in relationship with my friends and family in Charlottesville even though I haven’t seen them in more than a week.  I’m in relationship with the camp I went to in Canada when I was a teenager and the forks in my kitchen drawer and a cowboy hat for sale in Dallas that I’ve never even seen.  (Truly, it can be a little crazy-making.)

The key is that for every relationship there are three entities:  the self, the other, and the relationship.  Instead of BEING something in a relationship (that is, “I am selfish,” “I am loving,” “I am confused”), in Nia we talk about what we BRING to the relationship.  This is helpful to me in that like a gift I bring to a party, it is separate from me and I can bring more than one thing.  AND (and this is key), I have no control over what the other brings to the relationship.  Think about that:  how often do I say, “They are doing this or that and making the relationship crappy.  It’s not my fault.”  Instead, if I can let go of what the other is bringing, I can focus on making a conscious choice about what I want to bring to the relationship and let go of the rest.

In my relationship with my cat, Phoenix, for example, I bring affection, care, attention, annoyance and love.  Phoenix brings affection, a relentless pursuit of food, a love of warm places, and a tendency to use the box the second I’ve scooped it.  To my relationship with my new leather backpack purse, I bring satisfaction, pleasure, and gratitude (especially since it was only $2).  My bag brings three handy dandy compartments, comfort and ease for carrying, and snappy good looks!

Like Dr. Hanson, Helen wisely invited us to begin by looking at our relationship with simple, inanimate objects rather than something outrageously complex (oh you know, like my relationship with an actual person).  So I spent some time this week looking at my relationship with my favorite cashmere socks, my four-color pen, and my PG Tips Decaf tea.  It sounds absurd, right?  And yet it is surprisingly illustrative.  It helps me notice my tendencies (for example, I tend to take things for granted and expect things to just do what they usually do).  The practice helps me break down the complexities of relationship.  What do I bring?

Dr. Hanson suggests bringing a willingness to find something likeable.  His practice invites a choice.  I choose to like something, at least one thing about the object, person, or situation.  Nia suggests looking at all the things we bring, and then invites us to question whether we are consciously bringing what we want to bring to the relationship.  Either way, I find that the practice sheds a whole new light on how I relate to things, situations, people and myself.

Give it a whirl for yourself:  pick something simple and begin by finding something to like about it.  Then ask yourself what else you bring to the relationship.  Then ask yourself if that is what you WANT to bring.  We can’t control what the other brings:  the cat will do what she will.  Heaven knows I have no control over her.  AND we do have a choice about what we bring even if the other insists on getting underfoot and making a mess in the box.

There is release in that awareness.  Release and freedom.  And that, I think, is pretty cool.

I’d love to hear about your dance in relationship and what you choose to bring.  And I promise, as those the little baby edges of maybe-insights come through, I’ll share them.

I avoid competition like the plague.  Competitive contests whether athletic or intellectual, judged or timed or scored performances of any kind: I usually say no, thanks.  I like watching sports, and even so, I hate to see anybody (except maybe teams from New York) lose.  After years of beating myself up with judgment and comparison to others, I just do my best to avoid it.

For this reason during the first part of our relationship, I resisted playing games with my (total game-loving) husband, Frank:  first, because he’s the luckiest person I know (see my post on his luckiness) and second, because he’s also one of the smartest, so he would (with-extraordinarily-few-exceptions) always win.  After a while, the constant losing would wear me down.  As a compromise, for the past several years, we play Scrabble without keeping score.  This worked great for both of us:  Frank got to play a game and I got to not worry about losing (yet again) — and we could just have fun.

When we traveled with our friends to South Carolina last week, it turns out that they have this cool Scrabble game for the iPad (or iPhone or any iProduct, I expect).  We would pass it from person to person while we were driving or hanging out at the apartment (watching NCAA basketball while I cringed for the losing teams).  Heavens to Triple Word score, did we play us about a zillion games of Scrabble in five days!

And here’s the thing about this computer version of the game:  there is no option to NOT keep score.  Every time I played a word, the computer added up my points and displayed them at the top of the screen for all to see.  When I realized that avoiding the competitive side of the game was impossible, I made a choice to use the Buddhist principle of non-attachment for our extended Scrabble Odyessy.

Non-attachment is about letting go of the outcome of a situation.  As my friend and wonder-coach, Joy Tanksley, said in her August 22, 2011 Monday Morning Spark (), “Plant the seeds.  The harvest is not your business.”  Non-attachment is about doing your best and then letting what happens, happen.  One of the misconceptions about non-attachment is that I don’t care about the situation.  It can seem like a cold and hardhearted practice.  But non-attachment is not detachment.  Non-attachment means doing our best, our absolute best to affect the change that we want, and THEN, letting go.  And this is where it gets a little tricky.

In the liner notes of Paul Simon’s latest album, So Beautiful Or So What, he talks about this practice.  He wrote (and I’m paraphrasing here – does anybody have the CD so I can get his exact words?): “Life is about caring like crazy, with all your heart, and then not giving a damn.”  Non-attachment is pouring ourselves into an endeavor and not worrying about the results.  I don’t know about you, but that is a difficult practice for me.

Even in something as innocuous as an electronic Scrabble game with friends, I find this challenging.  I would sort and resort my letters, find the best place to get double, triple letter and word scores and then as soon as I hit play, I’d breathe, and pass the game to the next person.  Sometimes I’d feel that familiar frustration or ineptness, and mostly I was able to retain my equanimity.  It may sound like a small feat and for me, it was progress.

Today, I invite you to experiment with non-attachment in Nia and in life.  Pick something that you want to learn, have, be or do and pour yourself into it completely.  And then let go.  The harvest is not your business, just the planting and cultivating of the seeds.  So Beautiful or So What.

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