Attachment gets a bad rap.
In self-help circles, you will often hear attachment spoken of as a problem, the reason so and so is struggling. Loosen your grip dude, and you'll be, like, back in the flow.
The Buddhist concept of suffering in regards to attachment vs. liberation is based in our perception of ourselves as separate from other. Our lonely self imagines itself adrift in a dangerous and strange sea. We barnacle up to anything that gives us the illusion of safety, desire and preference cementing us in place.
In the therapy world, attachment is also thought of as a problem, but it's the lack of. Depending on your experience as an infant, you might have developed safe and cozy attachment with your caregiver, thereby giving you an advantage of confidence as an adult fumbling through relationships and the greater world. But if that important first step was a miss, you can blame a whole slew of problems on it, from a tendency towards drug addiction to just being a major stress case.
Oi...healthy attachment is important, non-attachment is important...where exactly is this very thin line I'm supposed to walk?
Look under your feet and start there. It all begins with your sense of place.
Oh heyyyy, it's me, your friendly neighborhood ecopsychologist, here to tell you all about it.
What I'm speaking to is sometimes described as rooting. I've just moved here, but I'm already putting down roots or I've lived there my whole life, but I never really put down roots. And this experience of really being dug in to a place is part of what I'm talking about, but there's something more subtle worth parsing out.
It's feeling interwoven with the world around you. It's the way your animal body hums along to the same tune as the bird song that changes with the seasons. It's about really wanting to get home because all day long there was an interplay of light and wind that you didn't get to see, you might have missed that moment when the bluebirds found the house you made for them, or that time when three ladybugs were all lined up on the same stalk.
It's about the edges of your own being blurring into the landscape, spreading out in filaments just barely under the crust of the earth, like mycorrhizae.
There are many, many ways to weave yourself back in to the fabric of all being. Meditation, especially outside, is a particularly good one. Strolling along a favorite path, especially without shoes, is highly recommended. Homesteading, raising and growing your own food, and then tying yourself to the land by the simple act of eating, is an option that should be a fundamental right rather than a privilege.
But there is another way, available to anyone able to get themselves to a patch of earth with a few trees, even better if there are some brambles and a bit of flowing water.* It begins with observing the dance of species through the seasons. And it culminates in taking communion.
Otherwise known as Eating the Weeds.
Oh snap! Look at that, I just roped you into a foraging post.
Some wild edibles and medicinals are obvious draws...nettles in the spring, blackberries in the summer, mushrooms in the fall...these are easy gateways to the foraging world. If all you ever do is nibble on miner's lettuce, you are still making giant strides towards a deeper relationship with place.
Its normal to feel intimidated by lesser known delicacies, and even more skeptical about medicinals. If you're not an herbalist, why would you care? And that's just it...you don't have to care. But I do invite you to be curious.
Like, Hmmmm, I wonder if anyone ever used goldenrod for anything?
Goldenrod, being found all over the world, has a long history of medicinal and edible use. At one time, solidago was considered one of the great woundworts...a plant known for its efficacy in healing wounds. It is also a superstar in treating bladder infections, healing the kidneys and treating seasonal allergies. Used externally, goldenrod is healing for muscle and joint pain. Some species are also well appreciated for tastiness as a tea.
What about how goldenrod makes us feel? Walking by the edge of the lake on a late summer afternoon, driving along the backroads on a cozy fall day, we see a glorious stand of flaming torches and suddenly the heart soars and we sigh in exclamation, Ah! Goldenrod!
On a physical level, taking goldenrod internally improves and heals kidney function. Kidneys are the organs in our body that also help process our emotions. All those chemicals that contribute to our emotional experience are flushed out through the kidneys and bladder. If you have a slow down of either organ, emotions can build up, leading to irritability, stuckness, and general grumpitude.
The energetics of goldenrod is markedly similar to the purely physical. The signature of solidago reminds me of Galadriel's line to Frodo in Lord of the Rings, when she gives him the light of Elendil,
May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.
Goldenrod helps you to bear the light, to carry the torch for yourself and also others. It can give you the courage to speak your truth, to hold your own against the sway of community and culture.
Shine on, bright one. Right where you stand.
When you find a wild edible or medicinal that you are curious about, get to know it in some way. Maybe it's just a little trailside nibble, letting your sensation of taste be a two minute meditation in your day. Perhaps you wait until you get home, until a quiet moment when you look a plant up in your field guide, or do a google search at the end of the day. You let curiosity beget more curiosity, and the next time you see your new plant friend, you revel in more than just a casual hello. This plant is now part of you, and you are part of the landscape.
Congratulations, you have just experienced healthy attachment.
What are you curious about, in the place where you stand, as we fall gently into deep Autumn? What supports you in bearing the light?
*Being able to get yourself to a patch of earth with trees, brambles and grass is, sadly, not a privilege to everyone. But wherever you may be, there is always sky...the path of stars and moon, the shape and type of clouds, the birdly inhabitants that fly by and migrate through. Even getting to know these things well can bring intimacy with place, and a sense of peace through interconnection.