There’s a popular saying – what we try to possess, possesses us. And it certainly rings true. This is what makes practicing non-attachment essential.
In the yoga practice, non-attachment is referred to as aparigraha. It’s one of the ethical precepts known as the yamas.
There are five yamas and they are essentially moral guidelines that help us navigate how we relate to ourselves and the world around us.
Non-attachment strives to pull us away from clinging to or grasping things, habits, behaviors, people, relationships, or beliefs. For doing so can keep us from experiencing the joy of the moment and ultimately rob us of our freedom.
Needs Vs. Desires
When first learning about the concept of non-attachment, people will often ask, “Well, aren’t attachments necessary sometimes?” So there’s a need to differentiate between needs and desires.
Think of it this way. When you take medication to manage an illness, this is a need. But if you take medication recreationally to simply feel different, this is a desire. The problem is, needs can quickly get mixed up with desires.
There’s nothing wrong with satisfying a desire. When it supersedes a need, however, it can become an unhealthy attachment. Whether it’s an attachment to food, sex, a relationship, a belief, etc., it can eventually drive you to be dishonest, abusive, manipulative, and selfish just to satisfy that desire.
Soon enough, these attachments begin controlling and dictating your life, demanding a great deal of your attention.
There Are No Small Attachments
As we’ve mentioned, unhealthy attachments can develop in many areas of our lives. And they rarely show up right off the bat as a huge problem or an addiction. They’re typically more subtle at the onset.
For example, you may have a project at work or a party that you’re planning. If you’re attached to the result being perfect (which doesn’t exist, by the way), you will be imprisoned by that attachment and not even enjoy the planning and preparation. You fall into the perfection trap.
Or there might be someone in your life whom you love very much but that you needlessly worry about all of the time. You may be having trouble detaching both emotionally and physically with this person – falsely equating worry with love. It’s the perfect recipe for co-dependence.
It could even be something as simple as believing you need a new item of clothing, a pillow, a set of sheets, when you already have plenty of these. You become attached to the idea of buying and the price tags continue to increase.
These are hypothetical situations, of course. But there are some basic things you can do to avoid getting deeper into unhealthy attachments.
Practicing Non-Attachment in Your Life
The objective of practicing non-attachment is to free our outer and inner space so that energy can move easily and freely. It clears space for whatever the world has to offer and allows us to live in the flow of the moment.
The following are great ways to start working aparigraha into your life.
1. Practice Self-Care
If you often feel afraid or insecure, you may have a tendency to cling to and try to control those closest to you. This doesn’t help you grow or allow them the space they need to be who they are.
By contrast, when you’re able to find ways to nourish and center yourself, you feel strong and independent. Taking even just a little time each day to practice yoga, meditate, or engage in breathing exercises is a perfect way to center yourself and start nourishing your soul.
The truth is, whatever you own really owns you. While acquiring possessions may feel enjoyable, there’s nervous energy utilized in getting and maintaining them. Then there’s anxiety around losing them.
2. Let Go of Unnecessary Possessions
Furthermore, they take up valuable space and energy, both in your home and in your head. This isn’t to say you should never buy anything new. But each time you do, consider letting go of something you no longer need. Letting go of the past allows you to live more fully in the present.
And when someone offers you something, accept it gracefully. Even if you don’t need it. You can always pass it along to someone else who does.
3. Stay Positive
This isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Especially if you’re not a naturally positive person. But when you cling to negative thoughts and memories, it can quickly lead to destructive habit patterns.
Remember that you do have some control over your thoughts and especially your response to them. So when you find yourself dipping into negativity, attempt to reframe as soon as possible. Start writing a gratitude list to focus on the positive.
Are you attached to old memories, prejudices, or past hurts? The amount of energy you’re using to carry those around is tremendous. They’re keeping you from experiencing joy and healing.
In other words, holding a grudge doesn’t truly hurt anyone but yourself. It’s a surefire way to keep those wounds open.
Forgiveness allows for the healing to begin. And it’s also a form of letting go.
Remember that everyone makes mistakes, including you. So clear that space between you and whoever or whatever it is you can’t seem to forgive. You will feel lighter, happier, and liberated.
5. Share and Be Generous
Attachment works from the false notion of lack and limitation. Work the opposite angle instead. Expand your capacity to stretch yourself by donating, giving, volunteering.
You’ll be surprised to see the rewards that come from sharing your time, energy, knowledge, and attention and won’t feel the need to cling so much.
6. Embrace Imperfection
If you’re always striving to be perfect, accept the idea that you never will be. Perfection is an illusion. Just do your best in every situation to simply be as you are – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
When you’re able to let go and stay open, you’ll find guidance in the most unlikely places.
While you may take it for granted, your breath is an extremely powerful tool.
Most of us tend to hold our breaths when we’re stressed. This, in turn, makes us even more anxious. So practice checking in with your breath. Follow your inhale, follow your exhale. When you catch yourself breathing shallowly or holding it, allow it to release fully and deeply.
This will root you into the present moment and leave you feeling relaxed and open.
Are You Ready for Practicing Non-Attachment?
There are so many benefits to practicing non-attachment.
It all starts with mindfulness and awareness. From there, you can begin to let go of the baggage that’s weighing you down.
Let us help. We can teach you and/or your school, business, or organization learn to let go through breath work, meditation, life coaching, and other mindfulness practices.
We offer both virtual and in-person offerings to fit your comfort level. So contact us today. And free yourself.