(excerpt from Andrew’s new book, Lead Us To A Place ~ your spiritual journey through life’s seasons)
When you hear the word, you may think of a Buddhist monk, leaving all his worldly possessions behind and climbing the lonely mountain to live in complete solitude for the rest of his days. Detachment, or non-attachment is basically freedom from “things”. These are things our EGO feels are important to us.
Non-attachment is actually a fully engaged connection to our life through the act of being more conscious or mindful about ourselves. It is the self-realization of the truth about reality. Detachment is not about distancing yourself, but more about understanding the true significance of life so that we better connect to it. By learning to understand that your consciousness cannot be affected by things you hold on to, this gives you a better sense of what actually holds you back.
The concept had alluded me for a long time. The understanding that I had to “give up” all that I worked for, seemed unfathomable to me. I know through all my religious studies that Buddha taught “with attachment comes suffering. Relinquish the delusion and ignorance that fuel both the attachment/clinging and the aversion/hatred that makes life so unsatisfying, and you will find peace (Nirvana).”
In his teachings, Jesus expressed to us through the book of Corinthians, “As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
My own Hindu yoga teacher would often say, “let go the realm of material things, for, in time, they will bring you nothing but dissatisfaction.”
Through my meditation practice, I have come to realize that starting with the things I cannot control, are the first things to detach from. For I have no voice in their outcome, therefore, holding on to them has no purpose and can never serve me.
A friend of mine always travels. On her journeys, she must take with her at least 3 suitcases. She drags them through airports, waits for them to come through on airport baggage belts and hustles them through the streets of whatever city she has landed in. She “needs” every bag. One day, her luggage was lost in transit and she arrived to her destination with nothing, but her little carry-on bag and the clothes on her back. For two weeks she waited and waited for her possessions to appear. They never did. It was at that point that she realized how she could get through her journey without all that “baggage” and what was really important, was right in front of her. At least she had clothes on her back and the means to nourish herself. That was all she discovered, was really important.
About a year ago, I decided to convert my entire website, Peacefulmind.com over to word press. This website format has gained great popularity and works much better when viewed on cell phones. One of the “plugins” or programs I chose to include in my site was a dictionary of terms. I had spent a year, filling in the definitions and by the end of that year, I realized that the plugin I chose was slowing down my website, as it was not compatible. I had website designers and experts analyze my site over and over. Every time they did, they came up with the same response. It was the plugin that was slowing my site down to a crawl. Yet, I could not let go of it. I made every excuse in my head that it was something else. I had invested so much time and effort into it, that I became so stubborn, unhappy and in denial, that it was starting to reverberate back to me ~ and not in a good way. I could image it likened to investing time in a relationship or in a job and it not working out. Yet, the Universe (and everyone else I asked), was clearly pointing me to the answer. My ego could not let it go. Finally, I came to the realization, by meditating on detachment, how I could actually benefit by letting it go.
I then started to re-analyzed my life and looked further back into my past. I sensed just how little control or influence I really had over it. I clearly wasn’t paying attention to what life meant at all. I was attached to all the outcomes, holding on to what I thought I had control over and was not letting life “just flow”. I was living life attached and because of this, the result was suffering. I was suffering due to my lack of confidence, which was being undermined by what I thought people thought of me. I was fearful of making my own way through life, due to my belief that people expected certain behaviors or responsibilities by those in my circle of family and friends. It was all due to my belief that I attached to these situations, whether they were really true or not!
Now, I always lecture about being true to yourself and finding a belief that serves who you are. By seeking out the truths in your life and what makes you happy, you will always be your intrinsic guide and mentor. I still believe that these ideas ring true today and it has to do with what we attach our minds and emotions to.
Detachment is not about creating distance. I have learned that it is more about understanding the true purpose and what is of value in your life, so we may better connect to its meaning. We must not get bogged down by the things that anchor us to the ground and not allow our spirit to soar! Detachment is about mindfully paying attention to what is really important on your journey.
As always, you have the right to re-evaluate your path along the way. What may have been the center of your Universe a few years ago, has no more material significance or spiritual relevance and can be looked at through a different set of eyes with the power of detachment.
The practice of non-attachment has you look at outcomes that you have no control over and choose to release them.
The practice of non-attachment has you appreciate, love, life and your relationships even more. Simply by not having your ego expect an outcome, you are finding the selfless person who does not need to control every situation, but rather understand the decisions that are made.
The practice of non-attachment makes you no longer self-centered or selfish, and you become conscious in your awareness of the other person. You no longer self-identify with a needed outcome.
The practice of non-attachment simply means that your happiness is no longer defined by anything outside of you. You, therefore remain free.