image from Huffington Post
Firstly, what does Secure Attachment mean? And why create it when attachment has been given such a bad rap in spiritual theory?
In adult relationships, secure attachment refers to healthy bonding and is considered the ideal for successful intimate relating. However, interpretation of eastern philosophy tell us that attachment is not spiritual and we need to let it go to be evolved. Once again, the linearity of western thought with emphasis on masculine transcendence has dominated us with a patriarchal spirituality. It’s disconnected us from authentic feelings, from our bodies, from the Earth, from the Feminine and from each other. To create wholeness within, we must attune more deeply to ourselves, and consider the impact that teachings from Buddhist, Tantric, Vedic and Advaita-based (to name a few) spiritual teachings have had on people, who are doing their best to listen through under-developed & already traumatised nervous systems.
We most certainly do have attachment styles, sourced from how we developed (or didn’t fully develop) from when we first bonded with our caregivers as babies. With the lack of love and over-medicalisation in modern birthing methods, almost everyone is imprinted with trauma on arrival and raised by parents who are usually not living with a high level of integration within themselves. This means our default setting of how we are taught to relate, is coming to us via compromised nervous systems, where everyone is doing their best within their own trauma and generational programming. Eg. as a child of divorced parents raised in oppressive environments with abandonment & violence, I learnt how to be very independent and to identify as someone who doesn’t really have needs. That default mode setting of my attachment style is one that required growth in certain areas to develop my neural pathways out of developmental trauma, into someone ready for secure attachment.
Our attachment style defines our social, emotional and cognitive development – which governs all of our expression & the actualisation of our full potential. People who have developed their nervous system’s capacity for secure attachment are able to form deep & enduring emotional bonds, they respond better to stress, they’re more willing to try new things, they trust other people will take care of them, they’re happier, they feel belonging, they believe they are worthy of love, have ease in being vulnerable & can love whole-heartedly (it is the embodiment of Brené Brown’s research). Basically when we can identify our current attachment style as adults, we can do the inner work required to grow ourselves into human beings with fully developed psyches, capable of mature relating. The more secure we feel internally, the more free we can be in our lives. The deeper your roots, the higher and more expansive your wings can fly.
I have come to appreciate this the hard way, through the spiritual bypassing taught to me in all my years of spiritual training and how it actually stunted my growth in fully developing as a woman. Even with all my high ideals, good intentions and deep exposure to spiritual masters teaching non attachment, I eventually found myself just as under-developed in my emotional body as when I first surrendered myself into those spiritual communities. It was a huge shock to me at the time, to find that my ‘enlightened’ perspective was actually just conceptual. I honestly thought I had transcended certain things through my intense and constant spiritual practices over many years. I could sense something was missing, yet because I believed the perspective of grounded psychology was less evolved than the spiritual philosophy I loved, I was bypassing some fundamentally important things. Essentially, I was disembodied in my transpersonal focus on spirit and had forgotten about my mammalian reality’s need to also embody my soul.
Through studying Somatic Experiencing, I was able to speak a new language (of psycho-biology) and apply the SE skills to the process I had been attempting to integrate a few years prior. It taught me sensitivity towards and deep appreciation for my instinctual life as human animal, and how that is equally important as my transcendental self that I had explored in spirituality. Although known to be trauma therapy based on the wisdom of animals in the wild and how we can learn from them, I found SE to be about embodied presence, or a more embodied spirituality. It showed me a way to actually ground what I had explored when I was living in a transpersonal state for so long. It has taught me a profound respect for my needs, for safety, for my boundaries, and more, through actually feeling the wellbeing of my nervous system. It feels so honouring, so refined, so wise, so loving and healthy. (SE is the most gentle, non-intrusive and sophisticated healing method I’ve come across, which is why I’ve brought essentials elements of it into how I teach Tigress Yoga.)
I consider this embodied approach as Somatic Realisation, which can marry beautifully with spiritual teachings without causing dissociation. In my love of Shiva’s liberated freedom and transcendence, I came to intentionally include Shakti’s instinctual wisdom, relational intelligence and respect for limbic resonance, with equal importance. Now my definition of freedom includes having the full range of my nervous system intact.
image from Daily Mail UK
So how does one create secure attachment?
1. Identify your current attachment style. The google gods are very generous providing what you need to understand secure attachment if you ask them nicely. There are numerous quiz sites defining what your attachment style is and it does get more complex in types of attachment styles than what you see in this image above. Or find a specialist who can help you define what yours is through therapy. Defining it is a key to true liberation, it brings humility, real self respect and embodied love.
2. Find both cognitive + somatic methods of addressing your attachment style. There is a place for the grounded psychological approach of therapy. There is also the necessity of embodying that new learning, and I cannot recommend Somatic Experiencing highly enough as an effective method for restoring integrity of the human nervous system to it’s optimal functioning. Tigress Yoga is also a highly effective way of growing new neural pathways to re-wire women for enjoying nurturing energy and real self love, with ease of feeling pleasure. Expand your definition of spirituality to include refinement of your character rather than just connection to higher powers that most of the time don’t filter all the way through to who you are and how you really feel about yourself internally.
3. Be humble & curious about how your attachment style shows up in relationship. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being real. With some understanding of how the human nervous system works, you can also implement more neutral or scientific based language. Eg, what I once saw as ’emotional immaturity’, I now see as ‘lack of self regulation’. With this non judgemental communication for myself & others, I find I am more forgiving, more able to not take things personally & interested to meet relationship challenges with a greater compassion. Through self awareness, self reflection, embodiment work and interest to develop secure attachment, we can take pressure off the other and be less reactive. People who are willing to be imperfect while being self aware are also much more enjoyable to love.
Sacred Feminine consciousness is very much about restoring the embodiment of our souls, rather than just the transcendence of our spirits. Where might you have bought into a kind of spirituality that downplays the importance of your animal instinctual reality? Can you see when you are encountering spiritual teachings that view human feelings as inferior? Where does your focus need to be to complete the development of your psyche as a whole human being with full range of your nervous system’s integrity? What resources do you have access to for helping you create secure attachment? And do you have people around you who also value it in their own lives?