Several painful events caused me to explore the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism with greater purpose and application into my life in regards to attachment.
In the Four Noble Truths, Buddha speaks about attachment, “The basic cause of suffering is ‘the attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion)’. Add to this the other problem which is very pertinent; denying desire (or depriving oneself) is like denying life itself. A person has to rise above attachments and, for that, he need not deprive himself. The problem arises when he/she does not know where to put an end to his/her desires. And when he/she yields into these desires, he/she becomes a slave to them."
So, what does this really mean and how does it apply to our current lives?
We are still human with human feelings, emotions, wants, needs and desires.
The key is to find the balance of the desire and ask yourself:
“How much is enough?”
“Why do I have to have this thing or that thing?”
"Am I living in a lack mindset, causing a desire to need more things around me?”
"Do I need this thing as proof of my success and/or identity?"
"Is this thing filling a void in my life?"
"Does this thing help me numb my emotions?"
We will still experience a range of emotions, frustration, joy, sorrow, happiness, but the emotions, feelings, wants, needs and desires don’t have a positive or negative charge to them.
It is a concept of being able to acknowledge that we have enough,
we are enough, and our experience of life is enough.
It took me about 18 months to fully embrace this concept. My attachment appeared in a very different way. I had become attached to words people were saying, then would become disappointed when actions did not follow suit. I had to learn to be an observer; to match words with the actions or non-actions of others. This was my first realization and initiation into the idea of attachment. I had to look at it from all angles to dissect, discern and navigate all the aspects that surrounded this concept.
Then I began to look at attachment from the perspective of fear and the fear of loss, like losing a loved one. When we allow fear to creep in, it dilutes the emotional connection and investment with that special person. Attachment causes worry. Worry is unhealthy due to the physical illness it can cause including mental stressors and brain fog. Non-attachment is the absence of fear.
We are afraid of losing things and people; things are temporary and people do not belong to us.
Non-attachment does NOT mean that you are devoid of emotions. To me, being unattached means, I choose to invest in relationships rather than being attached to them (or to the other person). It also means that I am unattached to the outcome of the experience so that I am not thinking about what is going to happen, the next time I’m going to see that person or what will happen next.
Non-attachment promotes more honest and open communication by effectively managing expectations and the expectations of others. Because you are not attached to the outcome of someone else’s decisions, they allow themselves their experience and you allow your own experience. This honors the process of everyone involved.
Non-attachment helps you fully focus on the present moment; tuned in, engaged and invested with complete awareness of the energy, the feelings and the emotions. It heightens all your senses and your intuition becomes the primary influence of your decisions. Attention to detail is increased and the dots begin to connect on a regular and frequent basis.
How to practice non-attachment:
Begin with things vs. people. This is easier to start with. We will discuss people in a later post.
Imagine that your house is burning down. What are the 3 things you will grab, keeping in mind you can only take what you can hold in your arms, and be able to safely leave the house?
Now, prioritize those 3 things. Which is the most important?
What would happen if the house burned down and you were not able to get anything out of the house?
How would that make you feel?
How would it impact your quality of life if you did not have that THING?
Take yourself through this exercise and work through the feelings, the regrets, the choices, the images and the “what if” scenarios. By going through this process, you are working on eliminating your attachment to “things”. This is VERY good! Utilize this scenario as often as you can to begin your practice of non-attachment.
We think we must have things as evidence of our success and identity. They can even be a trophy to feed our ego. We attach feelings, emotions and even memories to our possessions. It is easier for us to have proof of our success and emotions if we have a tangible item to hold, smell, taste, touch and see. But is this really true or is that just a story we tell ourselves to justify acquiring it or keeping it?
By working through this process, it will give you a different perspective on just about everything in life. It will help you prioritize what is truly important. Which, I believe, is being in the present moment. It encourages you to be compassionate instead of angry. It encourages you to be helpful and not be attached to the outcome. It helps you remove your ego and allow the flow of life to happen in its natural state.
What I’ve learned is that I am able to live a fuller life; being completely present and allowing life to happen around me. My mind is free of all the clutter and static so that I can be in the moment with a clear channel – to tune into love and focus on the person who is right in front of me. It gives me a deeper connection because I treat it like it is the last time I will see that person. It also allows the other person to have their own experience; respecting their frame of reference, choices and boundaries. You accept everything is temporary and understand the only thing that is relevant is the present moment.
It provides a sense of freedom like you’ve never felt in your life.
Wake up in the morning and feel anything is possible!