Attachment to Success and Failure

It’s our nature to solidify our existence. We collect thoughts, words, experiences, and attach to them. We introduce ourselves by them. We make decisions based on them. We interact with others (or not) because of them. We are beings highly equipped for adaptation. So we attach ourselves to these thoughts, words, and experiences and carry them into our future.

I used to think I was practicing non-attachment. When something bad would happen, I’d be present with it, take responsibility for what was mine, and choose different action steps within my control. It was a great game plan for dealing with failure but this process didn’t address my attachment to success. I held success tightly, continuously seeking it in each new “now.” I used success as the bar to compare and judge moments. I especially did this in meditation. Like other forms of practice, mediation is different every single sit. Some days, I feel the presence of God so fully I could sit all day in a deep sense of peace and connectedness. Other days, I can’t seem to focus on more than one breath at a time, feeling scattered and frazzled. I became really good at making peace with the squirrely sits but quietly longed for that deep sense of love and light.

I didn’t realize how attached I was to meditative “successes” until I read a transformative  passage from Christian Meditation by James Finley:

“Any attempt to grab hold of the consoling aspects of a moment on our own terms only constricts the flow of the moment. In attempting to cling to the consoling aspects of the moment, we pull back into the constricted ego space of wanting to possess, rather than simply be blessed by, pleasant and consoling experiences… to be open, truly open, to that moment of spontaneous awareness is to be open and accepting of ourselves as we really are.”

After reading this passage, I was struck by the realization that these meditative “successes” were a recreation of my ego in an attempt to hold onto them. In the moment, however, they were only made possible by surrendering into the now–fully open, trusting, and being.

As I reflect on my own haphazard practice, I can’t help but smile and think, “What an opportunity!” I get to practice this over and over again. I get to be with both my humanity and my divinity. I get to practice openness and acceptance as I really am.

Who would you be to accept yourself as you are? How would you live?

Melissa Hemphill


BIRTHFIT Coach Seminar Director