This excerpt from the Dhammapada, a collection of teachings from the Buddha, encourages us to train our minds to be free from likes and dislikes. Why does the Buddha recommend that we consciously practice non-attachment to personal preferences?
By reducing attachments, we set ourselves free. This path of freedom leads to a deep feeling of peace. Just like with any training program, there is great effort and sacrifice, along with some pain and discomfort. This path requires daily practice, often starting with small steps to build confidence and strength. We can start with simple things that bring us pleasure, committing to limiting or eliminating their presence in our daily life. A few examples are:
- Social Media or other forms of electronic entertainment
- Ice cream
Remember to do this with the spirit of training the mind, rather than deprivation or punishment. When we follow this practice, we begin to reduce the craving/wanting aspect of our minds. Likewise, this can also be done with tasks that are unpleasant and that we choose to avoid. In this case, we move toward those things and bare the discomfort that is often short lived. Again, it is recommended that we start small:
- Picking up the phone when a difficult person is calling or making a difficult call
- Doing the dishes before going to bed
- Folding the laundry
- Budgeting or paying bills
This practice requires the spirit of care and wisdom. It is important to choose things that are helpful, not harmful. By working on transcending our likes and dislikes, we set an intention to build our own inner strength and wisdom. As the Buddha teaches, “all fetters will fade away”, helping to empower and build confidence when we face the unpleasant aspects of life head on.
Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.