We’ve all heard the phrase, “You can’t move forward if you keep looking back.” This phrase is powerful but often overlooked in our society without us realizing it. We often find comfort in holding onto parts of our past… or parts of our present… or even parts of the future we think we’ll have. Or perhaps we find it to be hurtful, but hold on anyways.
Attachment to material objects, ways of thinking and behaving, and to our cultural norms can be detrimental to our growth as humans and as a collective community. I love to say expectation leads to disappointment, which is also related to this concept of non-attachment. Expectations are a form of attachment. Attachment to a certain outcome. If we strive to have no or low expectations of our loved ones, of strangers, and of ourselves, we won’t be as disappointed when the outcome turns out to be less than we had hoped for. We’d also be much more satisfied when the outcome turns out to be greater than we had hoped for. Keep this in mind as you read the rest of this piece.
I’m writing this during the height of a pandemic, which has been causing a lot of fear and worry about our near future. It makes sense, we’re human. This is fight or flight kicking in. Will we have enough food to last us however long this virus will last? Will the events and trips I have planned for a few months from now still happen? When will I go back to work? How will I pay my bills? Will myself or my loved ones catch this virus and survive it? We have been taking for granted simple humanistic tendencies to gather in groups, to be close to one another without fear, and to go to the grocery store and find what we need. It is extremely difficult for the average American to practice non-attachment to these aspects of their lives, so I’m not going to ask you to do that. Let’s start with the more simple parts of life.
I’ve also been thinking of some underlying questions that may be running through people’s heads, including mine… When will my gym/yoga studio open back up? When will I be able to go out to the bar or to a party with my friends? When will I be able to get my nails done? When will I be able to sit down in my favorite café and sip a latte while I people watch? In a time like this, we are realizing what luxuries we have been relying on for routine’s sake, for security, for entertainment, or pleasure. We have also been attaching ourselves to these nonessential aspects of life… and when shit hits the fan and these are taken away from us, what do we have left?
How can we practice non-attachment to move through this with ease?
Start by switching your mindset from one of lack to one of abundance. When you look around, what do you see? Pretty much everything that was there before, right? When we realize that we have everything we need within us and around us, life gets a bit easier. I have the ability to calm myself and to heal myself, I have food in my pantry and fridge, I have supplies to make art or music with, I have books to read and podcasts to listen to, a street to walk down, a room to move my body in, people to call when I feel lonely.
How can we practice non-attachment to move through anything life throws onto our path?
Remember that nothing is permanent. The only thing that is permanent is change. It won’t be like this forever and it won’t feel like this forever. Letting things be as they are can be a huge challenge, but the more we do it, the more we will get used to the feeling of detaching oneself to a certain thing. Whether the thing benefits us or not, attachment feeds off our energy. It takes away from the energy you’d gain by being present and content. Imagine how much energy is drained from you if you are attached to unhealthy habits, thoughts, or situations. We become held back in a sense, distracted from what really matters and what is achievable. When we’re feeling out of control of what’s going on in our lives, it’s a great time to sit with it, observe the feelings and thoughts you’re having, offer them to your inner guide for healing, and let them pass.
It’s a very enlightening experience to see oneself be detached from something they used to be so attached to. Like when I recently cut 15 inches off my hair. It had been down to my low back for many years and I finally decided to detach myself from the security blanket on my head, the blanket that put a shadow over my insecurities and added significant “beauty” to my appearance. I needed change. I needed to shift the way I viewed myself. I didn’t know if I would like my new hair. Without expectations, I took the risk in order to let go of part of my past Self and grow my present Self… and I’m so happy I did. I feel lighter than ever!
What is something you can let go of today? Maybe it’s a repetitive thought you have in your mind that doesn’t serve you, an object you just “can’t live one day without”, or an expectation you have of a loved one. Or maybe it’s social media, that’s a popular one! I urge you to detach yourself from something for a day, or even just a few hours, and see how it affects your well-being. Write about it, tell someone about it, or even post about it! At least give yourself a hug for allowing yourself to detach.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences regarding attachment/detachment in the comment section.
It feels great to be able to write for this blog again and I hope you stick around to follow us ladies on our journeys, finding a bit of inspiration from our words.
Much love and light being sent your way ~