That’s a mouthful of a sentence, and simply typing it made me feel really smart, but it doesn’t mean anything at all unless we can figure out how to implement non attachment into our daily lives. You want to break free from unhealthy attachments to people, things, memories, issues… you’re going to have to embrace non attachment!
What is non attachment anyway?
A Buddhist principle that enables us to be in control of our emotions, instead of the other way around. Through non attachment, our focus shifts from everything beyond our control, worrying, stress, and anxiety and our attachment to the outcome – to the present moment. An official definition might be to simply overcome or release attachment.
The ability to center yourself, a.k.a. becoming Self-Centered, is similar to non attachment in that you get to make a choice in how you respond. When you catch yourself responding or reacting in a way that doesn’t bring you peace, you center yourself and make a new choice. Perhaps you will choose to observe this time, rather than react.
This is a foreign concept to many, as it seems so backward from the way most of us were taught to interact with everything around us. Haven’t we been told that we ought to have compassion, consideration, and love for others?
Non attachment doesn’t require us to give those things up, but asks us to address them from a different perspective. No longer are you responding to life based on old programming, such as “I’m supposed to do it this way” or “What’s in this for me?”. Rather, you remove as much emotion as possible from a situation so that your judgment isn’t clouded.
As I’ve been learning how to practice non attachment, I’ve hit some speed bumps along the way. I used to casually say, “I don’t care”, which I understood to mean, “I am not emotionally involved in this situation, and I am not going to put any energy into the exaggeration of drama.” But, to the person on the receiving end of my statement, it came across as cold and uncaring.
“Overcoming attachment does not mean becoming cold and indifferent. On the contrary, it means learning to have relaxed control over our mind through understanding the real causes of happiness and fulfillment, and this enables us to enjoy life more and suffer less.” -Kathleen McDonald, “How to Meditate“
One day I had an epiphany where I understood that I was expressing myself incorrectly. I should have been saying, “I care about you and how this affects you, but I am not attached to the outcome.” Can you see how that feels completely different for the recipient?
Another speed bump along the journey – I had a heartfelt conversation with a licensed social worker where I shared with her my aspirations to implement more non attachment in my life. She wasn’t very impressed, instead condemning this pursuit as a clinically diagnosable condition of ‘disassociative behavior.’
This experience reinforced to me how much conditioning and programming has taught us that we are to be emotionally engaged and attached to far more than is actually healthy for us. For example, if your best friend complains non-stop about her crappy life, and you regularly listen to her, and your feelings get dragged into it in such a way that you feel a genuine upset as she tells you her story – you are not being a good friend… contrary to popular belief… you are enabling your friend to continue to be a victim, and you are distracting yourself with unnecessary drama.
This is not the route to personal peace!
If you find yourself clinging to the past, to people, to things… you expend quite a bit of useless energy. Life flows much more easily if you can learn to practice non attachment.
So, how to practice non attachment?
- Learn to understand why non attachment is beneficial.
- Avoid forming new unhealthy attachments.
- Look at your belief system and update any that no longer serve you.
- End toxic relationships sooner rather than later.
- Seek help for hoarding, pat rack, and overly sentimental tendencies.
- Actively heal from trauma such as loss, abuse, illness and injury.
- Stop fearing loss.
- Stop seeking validation outside of yourself.
- Practice self centering.
- Learn to let go of feelings – process them, and allow them to dissipate.
In the moment, you are completely engrossed with your creation. You are present. And once you are finished, you take time to honor and appreciate it, knowing full well that it cannot be kept forever. You have enjoyed the experience, but you did not have to possess it, nor did you have to care for it, maintain it, and carry that burden for years.
Are you ready to find peace in your life?
Are you willing to practice non attachment, just to get a feel for it?
What does your life look like without unhealthy attachment draining you?
Challenge: Wholeheartedly consider areas of your life that are tainted by unhealthy attachment. Begin practicing the active choice of observing and experiencing rather than responding or possessing. Ask for clarity if you need assistance.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions on finding peace through non attachment. Leave a comment below!
With mucho a latte of love and respect,
p.s. Do you know where you get stuck on your path to Self Awareness? Take the ‘Why Am I Stuck?’ Quiz and find out.