Practicing Non-Attachment in Daily Life

August 8, 2017

greengarden

When we visit a garden we don’t put pressure on the flowers we buy to live forever. Instead, we often pick out annuals knowing that they will not last longer than the summer. We do not force any further expectations on these beautiful creations other than to purely enjoy our time with them while we have them. So, why then do we so often go through life clinging and grasping, hoping that by holding onto things that we will find more comfort and happiness? When ultimately it is the very thought of losing these things that cause us the most pain?

A zen proverb comes to mind: “If you can be like the trees, which allow the birds to perch and fly away without either inviting them to stay or desiring them never to depart, you will be near to the way.” icecoffeehannahflowers

In my last blog post, I discussed the concept of non-attachment following two very traumatic car accidents which forced me to change my perspective and see life from a different angle. Today I want to unpack what are some ways to practice non-attachment in daily life.

Non-attachment means to able to exist in the world while not grasping on to anything in a sense of dependency or needing anything to make us feel “whole.”

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Here are some common examples of core attachments:

  • Thinking that a person’s image of you is more important than the person themself.
  • The idea that you need a physical possession to be happy or at peace, and that without it, you won’t find it.
  • Desiring a result or outcome, such as the idea that getting a promotion will solve all of your problems and bring you lasting happiness.

The truth is these attachments although they serve some purpose, will undoubtedly always cause you inner strife and pain. Do you see the pattern? To truly let go and live with non-attachment means to let go of ideas. It’s all mental, not physical.

You can be in that relationship while letting the other person be free, wanting only for them to be free and at peace. To be able to show them love without feeling that your worth is tied to them loving you back.

You can sit in that car, and enjoy riding it, without the idea that you need the car to be happy. If you lost the car tomorrow, it would not be the end of the world. It may have an impact, but it will not stop you ultimately. 

And you can plan projects, create things, and work towards goals without your sense of self-worth coming from your work.

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No, the true source of peace and happiness exists outside of all this, beyond the reach of these many attachments, within the mind. And the only person that can discover this for you is yourself- or so I’m learning.

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Non-Attachment Meditation Exercise:

  1. Begin by making a list a of all the things you’ve attached yourself to. Be sure to take note of any underlying similarities.
  2. Ask yourself: What do I hope to accomplish or get from grasping on to these ideas (or fantasies)?
  3. Next, contemplate deeply on the principle of impermanence. Remind yourself of the fact that nothing lasts forever. Instead of letting this massive sense of fear swell up within you, meditate on how everything lives on in a different form. 
  4. Realize that nothing exists in the way you believe it does. Think that flower exists in and of itself, independent of its environment and everything that comes in contact with it? Think again. You are just as “special” as anything and anyone else. By realizing this you will begin to see your wholeness undefined by anything you could possibly attach to.
  5. Meditate on past attachments and whether they resulted in long-term peace and happiness or not. Take time to unpack past relationships, jobs, etc. in the form of journaling. See how many times it was perhaps your expectations of how these things were supposed to go, that in the end left you so unhappy when they did not come to fruition.

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Remember where there is growth, there will be pain. Reflecting on this level may unmask some very heavy and uncomfortable personal truths, but I promise that in the end you will move forward stronger and begin to feel so much more inner peace and happiness.

With love + light,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

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