The Art of Non-Attachment

Many spiritual books and meditations these days talk about incorporating the Buddhist art of non-attachment into our everyday lives as a means of relieving stress. For some, this process may bring up visions of having to give away all of your personal possessions and move to a mountaintop.

If that doesn’t quite sound like the choice for you… don’t worry. Practicing non-attachment doesn’t mean that you stop wanting things – it means that you’re open to what the Universe has to offer you, and the possibility that life can be different and better than you’ve imagined. Non-attachment teaches us how to get out of our own way and stop limiting the outcomes of our dreams, goals and wishes to our own constrained ideas.

Often when we really want something passionately, we attach a whole set of specifics to our dreams – including exactly what we want, and how we expect it to manifest itself. But when we do so, the art of non-attachment suggests that we have set ourselves up for suffering. Love is a great example – wanting love in your life is a beautiful desire. The struggle comes when we attach ourselves to the belief that a certain person offers the only path to achieving happiness in love. By practicing non-attachment you allow yourself to feel the desire, but you allow the Universe to bring it to you without dictating what package it comes in.

Resistance is futile
Along with non-attachment comes the idea that you are exactly where you need to be right now. Loosen up and relax into the flow of life – instead of struggling against the current. Eastern thought tells us that suffering is part of life – the human condition. By giving up the struggle, we free up huge amounts of energy that can be put to better uses.

This doesn’t mean that difficult situations will not arise – but that they simply will not be as difficult because you’re not fighting against them – you simply accept that these situations (the ones that create suffering) exist, and you will counter them as they unfold. We all know our parents will probably die before we do, but it doesn’t mean that this looming suffering should interfere with enjoying every moment they are with us. By accepting the suffering that will come with their eventual deaths, we can then let that go and enjoy the moment more.

Monkey mind
Giving your full attention to what is right in front of you stops that “monkey mind” (those wild random incongruous thoughts) from interfering with your intentions. By living each moment as it comes (non-attachment), we allow ourselves to engage our higher Selves, which are more universally connected. If your next task is to wash the dishes, then feel the bubbles and plates and cutlery, smell the soap, and observe the details – instead of rushing through that chore to get to the next one. If you find your thoughts wandering to the future or the past, don’t judge yourself – just notice the wandering, and gently return to the matter at hand. In this way each moment becomes a form of meditation, connecting us with ourselves and the universe. It is from this centered place that we birth our own enlightenment.

By making the choice to accept – rather than fight against – suffering, and not limiting your options, you’ll achieve the healthy type of detachment. By leaving the particulars up to the Universe, you’ll get to realize the freedom of unlimited potential, and live in the moment.

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