Browsing the archives for the Detachment tag

Wake Up Call! – Baggage Wisdom

 


BAGGAGE WISDOM

The baggage of your life will either be a teacher or a prison guard.

My friend Crystal was distraught. She said, “My Mom is unable to live in the present or acknowledge how blessed her life is.” She added, “The terrible mistreatment she had from an employer twenty-five years ago is something she keeps reliving and retelling to this day. I’ve had her go to therapy but to no avail. All she wants is for me to keep validating how awful the injustice was.”

Crystal had a choice to keep feeding her Mom’s baggage or detach from it.

In detaching from it Crystal discovered new freedom. She said, “I cannot accept the learning from that situation or be a prisoner to it; only Mom can make that choice. I can only love her for her wonderful qualities.”

The result has been Crystal’s sadness and frustration at her mother being replaced with a love that hopes for her freedom from her baggage.

Call-to-Action:

  • Be aware of the baggage that informs or imprisons life

  • Be present to the choices that you can make

Notice how letting of real hurts in your own life or that of another frees you to be lovingly present.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Slaying Emotional Vampires

Robert V. Taylor

This blog first appeared on Huffington Post, June 12, 2012

Emotional Vampires are drawn to people with positive energy, insatiably soul-sucking your words and energy. They’re toxic and you do nothing positive to help them or yourself when you succumb to their insatiable needs. Detachment is good for you both.

It was a chilling question from the person who asked if I would get real and talk about slaying the emotional vampires in our lives. Slaying conjured up images of a drone attack or a video game. It conveyed an aggressive hostility that is at odds with detachment.

I responded by telling a story. When I first arrived in the United States I knew that I could not return home to South Africa because of my refusal to serve in the military that enforced apartheid at the time. For my own well-being I understood that I needed to create an extended family from scratch in my new home.

Shaun was one of those whom I believed would be part of this new family. My proactive engagement with him brought with it a slowly dawning consciousness that his energy was life-sapping. On my weekly calls to Shaun I would listen to a litany of complaints about those who had wronged, injured or offended him in some way that week. I would unthinkingly move into rescue mode and offer suggestions for how he might engage differently with the world around him.

After many months it dawned on me that the phone calls were unidirectional and that Shaun had little interest in making different choices in his life. In a moment of new awareness I realized that not only could I not save or rescue him but, all importantly, that was not my job! His toxicity was poisonous to me and my well-being as much as it was to him. I was in the presence of a soul-sucker.

Almost thirty years ago, it became my first intentional experience of detachment. I offered our acquaintanceship and the intention for Shaun’s well-being to the Universe. With love I released this relationship hoping that he would in time seek his highest good. It was a liberating moment for me. I later learned that it was for him too, free at last of listening to my well-intentioned advice!

There was a companion detachment. I detached from my own single-minded need and focus on creating extended family. With new awareness I discovered freedom in becoming mindfully aware about opportunities for organically extending my new American family. Instead of clutching at an idealized goal I was free to be embraced by and embrace the life-giving energy of those with whom mutual bonds of relationship occurred more seamlessly.

Two decades later Shaun and I reconnected. He observed a new ease about who I am. I discovered a man who had done equally important interior work resulting in his anger and distrust of others making way for a more expansive, generous way of life.

Instead of slaying emotional vampires, detachment allowed room for each of us to flourish and cultivate our own well-being. It is easy to understand the reactions of those who respond to the emotional vampires in their lives with umbrage, anger, ridicule and pain. Those feelings are real but in choosing to nurture them we imprison ourselves by connecting an IV line of life-draining energy to our own lives.

As I recounted this experience my questioner’s perplexed look gave way to an insight – “I don’t have to choose to do battle with the vampires do I?” she asked rhetorically. Indeed not! The mindful choice to detach is an infinitely more courageous, life-affirming choice. For all involved.

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Freedom Beyond Your Enclosures

      

Robert V. Taylor

Robert V. Taylor

 Our journey is a dance between freedom and what encloses us. When we are active participants on our spiritual journey we assume responsibility for being willing to be transformed and free to grow into our magnificence.  Paul offers tools for this journey in the fifth chapter of his letter to the Galatians. How will you use those tools?

     What is an enclosure? Enclosures are self-fulfilling actions and beliefs that keep you from being who you are meant to be. When we allow ourselves to be confined by unacceptable expectations and boundaries drawn by others – such as family, culture, religion and politics – we accept an enclosure, and so define a limited us.

     When hiding behind your own particular enclosure you choose to live with a cramped heart, a squelched voice, and often, a lack of compassion for yourself—and others. While the choice to be enclosed can happen subtly over time, enclosure is no small thing. Your life is at stake! Enclosures lock you away from the fullness of joy intended for you by the Holy, and deprive the world of the gifts that only you can give—shielding you from the people who most need your influence.

     The good news is this—since we choose our way into an enclosure, we can choose to break out. Life presents us with such invitations each day.

     In a workshop I led on the pathways to becoming enlivened one of the participants raised her hand towards the end of the day and said to the group, “I’ve had an unexpected epiphany that I’d like to share.” Martha said, “I’ve spent years engaged in contemplative prayer practices. They’ve been a gift to me.  But today I’ve felt like a bird breaking out of my shell learning to sing for the first time.” The other participants leaned in listening to someone who was clearly not used to speaking in public. 

     Martha went on to talk about her practices saying, “I’ve always listened for the voice of the Holy somewhere out there” as she gestured with her arms to the space around her. “I’d never imagined what I was missing is the Holy in here” pointing to herself. Smiling broadly she added, “I feel as though I’m beginning to learn a new song. The notes and the lyrics have always been there but I’ve never paid them any attention.”

     Our own song, once recovered in us, is a gift of freedom opening a pathway to a more richly layered life.  In the months that followed I heard from Martha who kept testing her own newly reclaimed voice. She wrote saying, “I used to believe that my voice was insignificant and that it would be a selfish thing to pay attention to it. This was normal for me. As I trust my voice I’m discovering that I listen to the voices of others with new ears. And I can discern which voices to ignore. My life has been like breaking out of a thousand egg shells since that moment of epiphany with you.”

     “I’ve begun to remember the voices from my childhood” said Martha. “Voices of those who loved me but who repeatedly asked me ‘Who do you think you are?’ or ‘Why do you think such thoughts?’ I’m realizing that the voice I’m appreciating as an adult is not a new voice. It’s my voice unearthed after years of storage.” The truth being revealed was the inverse of those questions that had resulted in putting her voice into a holding pen for decades.

     We serve no one’s happiness or life by trying to fix or mend. Detaching from those whose voices insist we fix or mend their lives is an exercise in affirming the humanity of all and the Holy present in each person. Each of us can only save the life we are responsible for—our own. By detaching emotionally and spiritually we say to another person “I love you; I want your happiness; I will be actively hoping for you to recover and claim your own voice and passion. Someday I pray we will celebrate our voices finding a new harmony.”

     As Martha’s enclosures opened, she began to listen and engage with other people in a new way, unafraid of what their voices might reveal. On another occasion Martha wrote to say, “For the first time I’m appreciating the Universe and the Holy in the voice of all kinds of people. My every encounter seems different. I’m appreciative, I’m learning and I’m filled with anticipation about what I will hear.”

     Paul’s Damascus experience was an opening of an enclosure. His own life and experience of the Holy was experienced through new lenses because he chose to break out of his particular enclosure. Is this why he writes with such fervent, urgent passion about being “called to freedom”?  Is this why he offers the “fruit of the Spirit” as guideposts for the journey?

     Like my friend Martha your life and mine presents us with invitations each day to live into the freedom that the spiritual quest invites. A freedom to be fully alive, fully human. Is this part of your spiritual positioning system for the journey?

This blog was posted originally on Darkwood Brew where Robert is a guest blogger for their online discussion on Galatians

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