The Hardest Lesson I Ever Learned About Non-Attachment
The hardest lesson I ever learned about non-attachment is that it cannot be something I learn in theory. It cannot be something cute or profound to say. I cannot “fake it until I make it”. So often, ideas about non-attachment are misrepresented. “Don’t be attached to anything or that will increase suffering” or “You can’t be attached to [insert something] and still call yourself an [insert practice/path]. I have been on both the giving and receiving end of those pieces of advice. I find both unhelpful.
What I discovered about attachment vs freedom is that it is a practice. I believe that it needs to be something that we actively do. What does that look like? Truly it looks like self reflection. Yoda’s advice to Anakin may have been terrible considering the context, so I am not suggesting cutting off relationships to family, though I have done so when the balance was so far off as to be toxic to my own well being. His advice “train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose,” is worth considering when we look at the things and ideas or ideals we get attached to. Whenever we are in a “white must win” or “I know I am right” argument, I encourage us to sit down and consider “what is the worse case scenario”? Sometimes we take our ideas/ideals as part of our identity and that can sometimes translate into “if I don’t win, I am a loser” or something else that negatively defines us. That can lead to fight or flight reflex, but if you can remember that you are not in danger, that you aren’t any less of a person, or any less meaningful to your group or friends, your workplace, or your community, you can take steps to relax.
I encourage us this week, to look at the things or ideals we are attached to and why. This will not be a quick or easy exercise, but it may be helpful. Once we have an idea of what we are attached to and why, we can ask the hard question “is this attachment helping me or hurting me? If it is hurting me, what are some steps I can take to lessen or stop the pain? All of this can be done in your private study time and you don’t have to feel any pressure to share, though if you are willing to share or want some help getting through the exercise, many of us are available on the forum to support one another.
I also found this very informative video by Brad Yates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJrjF1Kn1cQ You may choose to ignore the tapping and focus on the affirmations or questions. I’ve copied some of them here:
Even though I need this, I choose to love and accept myself
Even though I need this, I choose to love and honor myself
Even though I need this, I am totally attached to having this, I absolutely need to have this in order for [something] to happen, maybe just in order for me to be happy, and even though I need this I choose to deeply and completely love, honor and accept myself and all those people who taught me to be so needy.
All this need, all this attachment, all this belief that I need this thing, or I need this outcome
But when I say I need something there is always this “in order to”
I need this in order to…
So why do I need this?
What am I afraid will happen if I don’t have it?
And isn’t it possible that I could get what I really want, even if I didn’t have this thing or result?
I choose to clear this need
I choose to clear this attachment
And I choose to clear this fear
That if I don’t say that I need it, that I won’t go after it
The fact is, the more that I let go of attachment and need, the freer I am to perform in the best ways possible and the more positive my energy is
In the law of attraction to attract good things or outcomes, it's good to feel really good
And feeling need is not a good feeling, so it tends to take me away from what I want
So I choose to let go of this sense of need
I’m letting go of all this attachment
All this need for things to be a certain way
The ultimate ...in order to...is to be happy, and I can be happy without any specific thing person or result, so I’m clearing this need....
You may also use this as a sort of meditation. Mr Yates has a very soothing voice.
May you all have a wonderful week and May the Force be with You