by Mateo Sol
"Non-attachment" sounds a bit intimidating, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, most people tend to associate this spiritual phrase
with being emotionally cold and unfeeling. But true non-attachment
is quite the opposite: it allows us to live in this world fully,
without being attached to people, things or thoughts that create
As the Dalai Lama was once quoted to have said,
"Attachment is the
origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of
But we don't have to sell
everything we own and become monks or nuns to practice
non-attachment; we simply need to understand the vital
importance of letting go.
Non-attachment or release from desire has been spoken
about in many religions such as Taoism, Hinduism, Jainism, and the
Bahá'í Faith, but this concept is most commonly linked to Buddhism.
Here are a few perspectives from these spiritual traditions on
The root of suffering
When we come to non-attachment, then we can understand the
marvelous mystery of the universe: how it is intense activity
and at the same time intense peace, how it is work every moment
and rest every moment.
Consider the trees which allow the birds to perch and fly away
without either inviting them to stay or desiring them never to
depart. If your heart can be like this, you will be near to the
Act without expectation.
Lao Tzu (Taoism)
He who is attached to things will suffer much.
Tao Te Ching
One of the three pillars of Jainism
Attach not thyself to anything unless in it thou seest the
reality of God.
Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing
should own you.
Ibn Abi Talib (Islam)
There are simply too many
quotes out there on non-attachment to include here, but I hope these
perspectives give you an idea of how important non-attachment is not
only religiously, but on a global level.
So what essentially is non-attachment?
Non-attachment is not about being a cold or emotionally dead brick
wall, instead, it's about learning
how to let go of the thoughts
and emotions that create suffering.
Once we can stop being so
attached to our thoughts, we experience tremendous relief, inner
peace, and a pervading sense of joyful well-being.
So how do we let go of our thoughts and emotions?
We must learn to observe
and disentangle ourselves from our thoughts through practices such
When we can simply allow
life to unfold naturally without being attached to outcomes,
beliefs, feelings or opinions, then we experience true
Picture this process of
detachment like being an ice cube that slowly melts down into a
puddle of flowing water. Water, like the practice of non-attachment,
flows with life effortlessly and peacefully, whereas ice cubes do
The goal of
non-attachment, therefore, is to become like water.
Essentially, non-attachment is about letting go of everything, both
physical and non-physical - or what spiritual teachers such as
Eckhart Tolle refer to as "dying before you die."
At first, this sounds
scary, but dying before you die really only means 'letting go
of everything that is preventing you from finding what is true,
eternal, unchanging, and forever present'.
In the words of Tolle,
"Death is a stripping
away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to die before
you die - and find that
there is no death."
So non-attachment, at the
deepest level, is about returning back to your True Nature by
loosening the grip of the mind on internal and external things.
When we stop clinging to internal and external phenomena, our whole
relationship with life is transformed.
Here is what may or may
not happen when you learn how to practice acceptance and surrender:
You will stop being
controlled by your emotions, instead, you'll become interested
You won't be attached to the outcome, meaning that you'll be
free from the dread, anxiety, and inner tension that comes with
clinging to expectations
You'll be more curious, open, and spontaneous because you have
no predetermined desire or craving
You'll be more peaceful and less neurotic, meaning that your
relationships and friendships will drastically improve
You'll feel consistently relaxed and serene because you're not
identifying with your thoughts and feelings (and instead you're
witnessing them as a "passive observer")
You'll be more resilient in the face of loss and death because
you're not attached to people and realize that all things are
You'll feel a sense of expansive freedom because you're no
longer a slave to the mind
You'll feel a sense of wholeness because you don't need or want
anything in particular, you're happy just as you are in the
You'll feel more love for yourself and others because you're not
attaching to beliefs and expectations about who you/others
"should" be or what "shouldn't" happen - you'll give yourself
and other people freedom to be themselves without judgment
You'll experience more
synchronicity as life unfolds
effortlessly and naturally
You'll no longer be addicted to "getting" things or filling an
empty hole in yourself because you're content and don't attach
to the belief that someone or something will "complete" you
You'll feel more grounded and connected to life because you're
not lost in thought-based attachments - you'll actually
participate in life more fully
Your mind will become clear and you'll be able to perceive the
truth more easily
You'll feel gratitude, love, compassion, and happiness permeate
your life as you have let go of the need to chase happiness
(which creates unhappiness)
Put non-resistance and
non-judgment together with non-attachment, and you have a recipe for
complete inner peace.
When we stop
resisting life and judging things to be "good" or "bad," we
naturally let go of a lot of,
The Mistake of
Attaching to Non-Attachment
After hearing about non-attachment the tendency of the mind
is to instantly fire up and start masterminding ways of
But be careful! Even the
desire to want no desire is still a desire...!
The whole point of non-attachment is to begin paying attention to
a concept that helps us to explore what is happening within us… but
at the same time, it can easily become yet another attachment.
So pay attention. Be wary
of allowing non-attachment to become yet another "Trophy"
you're trying to add to your spiritual cabinet because it doesn't
work that way.
It is impossible to
practice true non-attachment when we're attached to the desire to be
How do we prevent this (largely overlooked) attachment from
We'll explore that
How to Stop
Being Attached to Thoughts, Feelings, People, and Circumstances
Non-attachment is usually the byproduct of spiritual practices
such as self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-love.
Here are some useful ways
to begin letting go of habits, desires, and thought-patterns that no
longer serve you:
Stop looking for happiness in external things
When we chase happiness by believing that someone or something
outside of ourselves can make us happy, we suffer.
In fact, the pursuit
of happiness is the greatest form of attachment there is in
society. Instead, try to direct your attention inwards.
At first, seeking
happiness from within can be extremely difficult as we've been
conditioned to find "happiness" in material things,
accomplishments, titles, and people.
But with practice,
you will start to find the peaceful center within you known as
aside time to be quiet and still with yourself can help you tune
into this inner space.
Let go of the "shoulds" and "musts"
How do you approach life? Are the words "should" and "must" a
big part of your vocabulary?
are mental attachments) are always prefaced with one of these
two words, for example,
"He should be
"I must achieve
this or I will be a failure"
"They should stop
doing that immediately"
Pay attention to the
use of these two words and how they reflect in
Are you believing
that something "should" happen or someone "must" be a certain
way? Let it go. You cannot (or must not) change people.
Allow life to flow
without imposing useless expectations onto it.
Allowing is about permitting life to be just as it is.
Allow your thoughts.
Allow your emotions. Allow things to not go the way you
In the words of
"The Art of
Allowing is the art of finding my alignment, and therefore,
living in joy no matter what's happening around me."
By allowing life to
happen, you stop resisting and suffering ceases.
4. Make friends
We control, obsessively plan, and try to predict things out of
But the problem is
that the more we resist uncertainty, the more paranoid, anxious,
and tense we become. When we learn to embrace uncertainty and to
allow life to unfold as it wants, we don't experience fear
anymore - instead, we feel calm, curious, and open to all
This openness allows
us to adopt a playful attitude towards life because we're no
longer limited by fearing the unknown. Sometimes a simple shift
in mindset can help you befriend uncertainty instead of loathe
For example, instead
of dreading "what will come around the corner" start perceiving
the unknown as a big surprise waiting to happen.
5. Learn to
observe your thoughts and feelings
The easiest way to observe your thoughts and feelings is through
a regular daily meditation practice.
I recommend trying
Vipassana meditation as it
helps you to stay grounded while discovering with first-hand
experience that you are not your thoughts:
your thoughts are
simply fluctuations of energy that rise and fall like waves
in the ocean.
The more you
incorporate thought-awareness into your life, the more readily
you'll see how irrelevant many thoughts are:
they only mean
something when you assign them meaning.
When you don't give
thoughts importance, they cease to cause you pain.
6. See how
transient all things are
Look around you and try to find something that will last
Who or what will last
eternally? The reality is that all things will sooner or later
By reminding yourself
of this fact, you will start living life as fully and completely
as possible. Seeing the transience of life is deeply saddening
but also gives us the opportunity to experience true joy.
If everything lasted
forever (on this earth dimension level), what a boring
thing life would be!
Death helps us to
appreciate life. So appreciate it while you have it.
Furthermore, use this recognition to fuel your pursuit to find
that which doesn't change, or that which is eternal.
Start looking within and
you will be surprised… or more than surprised,