Who are you, when you take away all the 'stuff'?

Kua ara ake a Whiro, the new moon has dawned upon us and with it comes a new kaupapa; detachment. In all honesty, I wasn't looking forward to finishing up with transformation, which makes detachment a natural progression. Let's see what we've got.

I read once that “attachment is the root of all suffering.” Attachment to other people, attachment to our 'identity', attachment to how things 'should be' etc., and I touched briefly in the last post, about how our attachment to our roles and identity come under threat when “life happens.” Whether it be how we identify ourselves with our careers, as a mother, a rugby player, a friend, as Māori or a decent human being, the works! So, consider the roles you play in your life. If we took it all away, if we stripped you of your positions and your stuff - what would you be? Who are you? We’re gonna peel the layers back in this very first post, so we can build from a solid base over the next few weeks. So, who are you? Not your career or what you do, you. While you have a think about that, pānui mai, keep reading.

The overheating I mentioned in this post, accelerated the chain of events that stripped me of my roles and brought about something of a detachment process. FIRST UP; I really badly injured my shoulder at rugby training (tore the labrum clean from the socket). Bad timing for my rugby career (but perfect timing for other paths), because I had a series of tournaments coming up that I thought I had to play in, in order for selection to the top squads or teams. I decided that my identity of being a rugby player depended on making those teams, so I played my injury down like it was nothing major. I’ve done a lot of stupid and this was definitely one; I was so caught up in maintaining my precious identity as a rugby player, that I actually made my shoulder and my chances of making any teams, worse = lose/lose.

NEXT; Not long after, I left my job. I had hit my 'I don't care if I do anything today or not' state and reckoned my job and the kaupapa (mission) it served warranted more and better commitment than that. So, I left. Ya know, being unemployed was a very insightful experience because people often wouldn't know how to react:

'How's work?' - Oh I left my job. 'Oh ok, so what's the plan?' - There isn't one, I’m just not working. ‘…’

Our job titles carry so much weight; we always have to be doing something, right? If we're not working, we're lazy, but if we're doing something, we must be important and have our lives together, right? Mmm.. are we being productive - or are we just busy? Why we glamourize being busycoming up in future post.

Where were we... I left my job, I wasn’t playing rugby (I was playing but I was rubbish), I had no goals or direction.. I detached from almost everything I so strongly identified with; you could say I felt pretty much detached from life itself. I was a hollow shell, with no plan, no drive. The loss of my defining roles took their toll, leaving me bare and incomplete. But why? I was still me, still Hana.. wasn't I? It took me several months and a lot of honest (painful but necessary) reflection to realise I wasn't incomplete, I'd just removed parts of my surface level, self-made and environmentally shaped constructs I associated myself with i.e.; my ego. I had built up an illusion/identity of who Hana was and tied a lot of it to work and rugby. When those roles disappeared*, I wasn't sure who I was or what I was about anymore. Pāpā Eckhart Tolle wrote, in his awesome-yet-sometimes-difficult-to-comprehend-but-totally-worth-it book, A New Earth;

“You are most powerful, most effective, when you are completely yourself. But don't try to be yourself...”

...... Yep, you read that right. It actually makes sense after you reread it out loud, about seven times; when we try, we have to think about it and therefore aren't being our true selves (and this was one of the easier concepts to grasp). We're human beings. Not human doings, or human thinks; human beings. Matua Eckhart writes about the ego (the thoughts and illusions we have of ourselves that form our identity), and how it affects our knowing and being our true selves°. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, keep them, this ain't about that - this is about how we identify with roles and expectations: of others, of reality and how things should be and how become attached to them. Basically, the stronger we identify with something; the stronger our ego is; the stronger we have attached to it.

Pāpā Eckhart and other spiritually enlightened souls reiterate how detachment makes for a happy and fulfilled life. I might have missed something between the lines but I struggle with that whakaaro (idea) in some applications. For instance, I grew up with a strong Māori identity and affiliation, so to detach from that seems impossible and not really something I want to do right now. One interpretation and application of detachment I have however, is that we learn to detach from external variables as a means of defining ourselves. 

"I'm a rugby player," "I'm Māori," "I'm a daughter," yes you are! But learn to recognise that those are roles we play, not actually who we are. Throughout our lives we'll be lucky to play many different roles but I ask you to dig deep down, internalise a little and peel back the layers of what you do, or the roles you serve in your life and figure out who you really are. You'll find that it's in the realm of your why, your passion and sense of purpose.

To give an example; I believe my why is to be light and spread love: based on what I get excited and passionate about, what my skills and attributes I was born with are, and the perspective I hold. That's my core, that's my true self (for all I know it could be something totally different but it works for now, so I'm running with it). Now, the role I play to fulfil that is through story telling, this blog, photography and a million other ways I haven't yet thought of. We've already talked about letting go of negative, unproductive habits and behaviours in the transformation posts - the detachment kaupapa (topic) will be about how we're continuously growing all the time.  Which means we're constantly detaching from old ways of doing things, old expectations, old roles as we shift into new spaces. We are constantly unbecoming who we are not, to become who we are meant to be, but we need to start from the inside-out, from a solid foundation, to build ourselves back up.

A little deep and abstract perhaps but thank you. Kia ora rawa atu,




*They didn't disappear in a literal sense. I got back into work and played rugby again, but they were no longer how I defined myself. I'm still Hana if I don't play rugby, I'm still Hana if I have no steady income.. ya see where I'm going with this?

° True selves: Our essence, our mauri, our spirit, our soul, our core self.