Yes, we are all clinging to something (Day #6)

Alex Barrera
4 min readDec 6, 2016
Image credit: Carlos Heredia / Alone (Flickr)

If I had to choose the most hateful concept ever, it’s the idea of clinging. Or more precisely, the idea that if you cling to certain things, you’ll suffer.

You could write millions of pages on the concept alone. But it’s not what makes me hate it. It’s the fact that’s so true.

We do it so many times every day that’s overwhelming.

I’ve read and listened to many people speak of clinging. Nevertheless, it’s not until you start observing your life that you start understanding. It’s everywhere. We do it so many times every day that’s overwhelming.

I started observing the phenomena with physical objects. I’ve never cared too much about objects. Some time ago someone asked me what would I save from my apartment if there was a fire. It didn’t take me too long to answer that, apart from my family, I wouldn’t take anything else with me.

I was the first surprised. I’ve never been big on buying things or needing things, but I realized that I didn’t care much for what I owned either.

From time to time, I get stuck on one of those consumerist loops where I “need” that thing. And then I obsess. I research it. I spend two weeks comparing stuff, thinking about it, dreaming about it. It’s painful. When you can buy the object, well, the craving goes away when you buy it. But what if you can’t buy it?

Those that know me know that I’m a big Asia fan. For some time I got obsess with owning a proper Nihontō blade. (Hint: I’m a martial artist, and we do weapons training regularly). It took me like a month to drop the whole affair. Looking back, it makes me laugh, but I remember that it was so painful to want it but not being able to have it.

Hamon of a katana blade

One word: clinging. The moment you want to hold something that’s impermanent, you void the value, and we suffer. The same goes for art. Owning art, as much as I love it, is a physical manifestation of that clinging.

It’s easy only to think of clinging when talking about property, but it’s harder when it’s about emotions. I’m a real expert at clinging to feelings. I think they should give me some price.

If I don’t keep my emotions in check, I will be swallowed by them

I’m a very passionate person. Like everything, it has two sides to it. It makes for very inspirational speeches, talks, conversations or writings. The dark side is that, if I don’t keep my emotions in check, I will be swallowed by them. When that happens, it’s not pretty.

Speaking at Digital Freedom Festival 2016, November, Riga, Latvia.

Part of the complexity is that I draw my energy from my emotions. It’s easy to do it when I need inspiration. But it’s very hard to let go when it’s hurting.

It’s got to a point where I can see myself clinging to a situation, to an expectation. I really want this or that to happen. I might or might not understand why, but I can see the clinging happening. It’s painful to watch.

I never thought you could switch your mind so fast.

While I’m mindful of it, most of the times, it’s still too hard for me to let go. If I meditate long enough about the situation, I tend to let go of it, eventually. It’s a weird sensation. It’s so hard to force my mind to do it, but the freedom is also immediate. I never thought you could switch your mind so fast.

I’m also exploring other ways of letting go faster. A recent experiment has been to use anger to fuel the unclinging process. When anger arises, I’m able to channel it towards a positive goal, which is letting go of what created the pain in the first place.

Nage: Hassan sensei. Uke: Alex Barrera. A Coruña, June 2016

It reminds me of what we do in Aikido. It’s about redirecting a strong undercurrent and becoming synchronized with the very nature of that force. Once in sync, it’s easy to redirect. Then you’re free; then you’re in balance; Then you’re one with emptiness.

If you’re suffering, if you’re in pain, two words for you, LET GO. And yes, it’s fucking hard to do. I know.

This post is part of my 30 Days Writing Challenge. If you want to check out the previous posts, here you have an index.



Alex Barrera

Chief Editor at The Aleph Report (@thealeph_report), CEO at, Cofounder & associated editor @tech_eu, former editor @KernelMag.