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What Is Non-Attachment? | Blog

So this year has gone pretty quickly and I can’t believe that there’s only around 6 weeks left of 2019.

For me this year has seemed like such a huge whirlwind of up and down moments of life.

I started off the year with an amazing month of travel around Japan in March and have had a summer full of little city trips and weekend breaks.

But in between all of that, I’ve moved out of my flat and spent around 3 weeks being pretty inactive when my back completely went out. So a lot of my daily habits and routines went out of the window. Putting me in a temporary state of imbalance within myself.

Now because this year has seemed so up and down, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting and a lot of time studying and reading different philosophies and theories (because when you’re laying flat on your back there’s not much else to do). And I’ve found myself drawn to a lot of Eastern Mysticism such as Jiddu Krishnamurti’s teachings, reading into Buddhism, the way of the Samurai and Taoism – right now I’m reading a book called thew Tao of Physics which makes comparisons between modern physics and Eastern teachings and it’s blowing my mind.

And one of the things that has really drawn me in is the idea of non-attachment.

To add some context to this, I am someone who is very loyal and can get quite attached to things, to ideas, to places, to people, to anything really. I feel like a huge sense of loyalty to most things I do and people I come across.

For example, I’ve only just realised how much of a hoarder I am. I find it really hard to declutter and get rid of belongings. So when I moved out of my flat and back into my parents place temporarily – not only was I disgusted by the amount of stuff I had – mainly clothes which I hardly wear – but I was also disgusted at how much stuff was still in my old bedroom at my parents’ place. Literally my wardrobes and draws were still full even though I hadn’t lived there for nearly 5 years!

So as you can hopefully tell, non-attachment is not really something that has been apart of my life.

Since reading more about the Eastern ways, I’ve noticed that a lot of the teachings are about temporary states and being ultimately present. And this goes for most things – mainly your thoughts and emotions but also for states of health, belongings, relationships etc

Most things in our lives are temporary.

In fact we over-complicate life with the way in which we attach meaning or emotions to certain situations, things or people. But in reality it’s all temporary.

This starts with your thinking. Once you realise that any thought you have is temporary, a lot can change for yourself.

Every thought you have will come with a feeling attached to it. Now this could be a good or a bad feeling, but whatever it is the thought and the feeling will both pass.

A new thought will be along and a new feeling will come with it.

This explains why babies are able to go from crying their eyes out one second, to laughing their heads off the next – it’s because they are truly present and living through their thinking and feeling in any given moment. They aren’t attached to the feeling that has come before it.

One of my favourite stories comes from Eastern teachings and the story of a high monk and his student.

One day the student rushes to his teacher and proclaims “Teacher, my meditation is horrible, I keep getting distracted or my legs ache or I keep dropping off”

The monk simply replies “It will pass”

A few weeks later the student rushes back up to his teacher and tells him “My meditation is fantastic, I feel so peaceful, so aware, so present. I feel so alive, it’s incredible”

The monk takes a look at his student and simply replies “It will pass”

I love this story because it teaches non-attachment and the impermanence of life in such a simple, beautiful way. Every moment is temporary and we need to understand how to fully accept and live that truth.

So back to me and my room full of stuff. Since reading up more on these ideas and teachings, I’ve begun to take a view of non-attachment on more things.

The first time I really noticed this was when I actually had all of my stuff packed up from my flat and moved out. I thought I’d be really upset or feel a certain way about leaving my own place. But instead I didn’t really feel much at all – I felt calm and collected.

Then when I began to unpack all of my things at my parents’ place – I decided to use my new found wisdom to finally clear out some old things, so I went through every item of clothing in my room (literally!) and organised it into 3 piles – things to keep, things to give to the charity shop and things I could sell.

Now don’t get me wrong, this sounds very easy. But I found it incredibly hard. Many clothes were going from the keep pile to the sell pile and back again. But I had to remain ruthless and see each item as just that – an item, with no prior attachment to it.

And once I’d gone through the process, I felt great. And relieving myself from so many attachments felt really freeing.

But I don’t want this to be a post about how I cleaned up my room so we’ll move on.

So right now, as you can probably tell, I’m going through quite a big non-attachment phase. I’m trying to fully understand how everything in my life is temporary and I’m trying to fully feel the power in a constant state of change or impermanence.

I’m really enjoying the idea that my life can take me in any given direction at any moment and I’m even trying not to commit to too many plans over the course of 2020 – weddings, for examples – as I don’t want to feel like I have to many things tying me down to one place.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some benefits of attachments or planning ahead, I mean you don’t get to releasing 114 episodes of a podcast without some kind of forward planning, but what I guess I am trying to explain is that I don’t want to have too many attachments to too many things as ultimately they tie you down and they begin to shape you – I want to free myself as much as possible to experience life in the best way I can.

In the next 12 months, I want to fully embrace my non-attachment, I want to live my life more presently and with more freedom. I want to ride the highs as well as the lows. I want to see where life takes me.

This year has been my most challenging for a while – in terms of beginning to fully understand myself and my place in this world – but I feel as though I’ve shed a layer or skin and unleashed a new me, or even that I’ve broken out of a cocoon and become more of a butterfly – because that sounds a bit nicer 🙂

So I hope this article has given you some insight into the idea of non-attachment and how I am bringing it into my life.

Obviously, you don’t have to go to extremes with this, but can start with small habits or ideas that you have. Think about how you would feel if you could free yourself of certain situations, feelings or beliefs. And realise that all of these things are created through some form of attachment.

You can listen to my Dreamer’s Disease podcast HERE.

Peace and Love,

Alex

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