“Non-attachment” sounds a bit intimidating, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, most people tend to associate this spiritual phrase with being emotionally cold and unfeeling. But true non-attachment is quite the opposite: it allows us to live in this world fully, without being attached to people, things or thoughts that create suffering.
As the Dalai Lama was once quoted to have said, “Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.” But we don’t have to sell everything we own and become monks or nuns to practice non-attachment; we simply need to understand the vital importance of letting go.
Non-attachment or release from desire has been spoken about in many religions such as Taoism, Hinduism, Jainism, and the Bahá’í Faith, but this concept is most commonly linked to Buddhism.
The whole point of non-attachment is to begin paying attention to your thoughts. What occupies your mind all day? What drives you? In what ways are you seeking happiness from the external world rather than the internal world? Non-attachment is a concept that helps us to explore what is happening within us … but at the same time, it can easily become yet another attachment. So pay attention. Be wary of allowing non-attachment to become yet another “Trophy” you’re trying to add to your spiritual cabinet because it doesn’t work that way. It is impossible to practice true non-attachment when we’re attached to the desire to be non-attached.
How do we prevent this (largely overlooked) attachment from happening? We’ll explore that next.
How to Stop Being Attached to Thoughts, Feelings, People, and Circumstances
Non-attachment is usually the byproduct of spiritual practices such as self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-love. Here are some useful ways to begin letting go of habits, desires, and thought-patterns that no longer serve you:
1. Stop looking for happiness in external things
When we chase happiness by believing that someone or something outside of ourselves can make us happy, we suffer. In fact, the pursuit of happiness is the greatest form of attachment there is in society. Instead, try to direct your attention inwards. At first, seeking happiness from within can be extremely difficult as we’ve been conditioned to find “happiness” in material things, accomplishments, titles, and people. But with practice, you will start to find the peaceful center within you known as your soul. Regularly setting aside time to be quiet and still with yourself can help you tune into this inner space.
2. Let go of the “shoulds” and “musts”
How do you approach life? Are the words “should” and “must” a big part of your vocabulary? Expectations (which are mental attachments) are always prefaced with one of these two words, for example, “He should be nicer,” “I must achieve this or I will be a failure,” “They should stop doing that immediately.” Pay attention to the use of these two words and how they reflect in your behavior. Do you believe that something “should” happen or someone “must” be a certain way? Let it go. You cannot change people. Allow life to flow without imposing useless expectations onto it.
3. Practice allowing
Allowing is about permitting life to be just as it is. Allow your thoughts. Allow your emotions. Allow things not to go the way you expected. In the words of Abraham Hicks, “The Art of Allowing is the art of finding my alignment, and therefore, living in joy no matter what’s happening around me.” By allowing life to happen, you stop resisting, and suffering ceases.
4. Make friends with uncertainty
We control, obsessively plan, and try to predict things out of pure fear. But the problem is that the more we resist uncertainty, the more paranoid, anxious, and tense we become. When we learn to embrace uncertainty and to allow life to unfold as it wants, we don’t experience fear anymore – instead, we feel calm, curious, and open to all possibilities. This openness allows us to adopt a playful attitude towards life because we’re no longer limited by fearing the unknown. Sometimes a simple shift in mindset can help you befriend uncertainty instead of loathing it. For example, instead of dreading “what will come around the corner” start perceiving the unknown as a big surprise waiting to happen.
5. Learn to observe your thoughts and feelings
The easiest way to observe your thoughts and feelings is a regular daily meditation practice. I recommend trying Vipassana meditation as it helps you to stay grounded while discovering with the first-hand experience that you are not your thoughts: your thoughts are simply fluctuations of energy that rise and fall like waves in the ocean. The more you incorporate thought-awareness into your life, the more readily you’ll see how irrelevant many thoughts are: they only mean something when you assign them meaning. When you don’t give thoughts importance, they cease to cause you pain.
6. See how transient all things are
Look around you and try to find something that will last forever. Who or what will last eternally? The reality is that all things will sooner or later die. By reminding yourself of this fact, you will start living life as fully and completely as possible. Seeing the transience of life is deeply saddening but also gives us the opportunity to experience true joy. If everything lasted forever, what a boring thing life would be! Death helps us to appreciate life. So appreciate it while you have it. Furthermore, use this recognition to fuel your pursuit to find that which doesn’t change, or that which is eternal. Start looking within, and you will be surprised … or more than surprised, ecstatic!
Non-attachment isn’t about becoming some dull “emptied” husk-of-a-person. It is about living with the aliveness, rawness, and simplicity of a true Master.
So now I’ll turn it over to you: what are your thoughts on non-attachment? Do you have any useful tips to share with our community?
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Mateo Sol is a prominent psychospiritual teacher whose work has influenced the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Born into a family with a history of drug addiction, schizophrenia, and mental illness, Mateo Sol was taught about the plight of the human condition from a young age. As a shaman and spiritual guide, Sol’s mission is to help others experience freedom, wholeness, and peace in any stage of life. Donate to support Sol’s work →
This article (Why Non-Attachment is the Key to Finding Inner Peace in a Crazy World) was originally published on lonerwolf.com and it is republished here with permission and proper attribution to the author Mateo Sol.
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