Life is a journey that will never be simple. Each day there will be high points and low points, and every moment whether good or bad will be an opportunity to let go of the outcome and feel peaceful. Living life on purpose is accepting the truth that everything is temporary. All relationships come to an end, all material possessions can and will be destroyed or be taken away at any moment, and every being will one day leave this temporary material existence and move on to another form of consciousness.
1.12. Abhyāsa vairāgyābhyām tannirodhaḥ.
These mental modifications are restrained by practice and non-attachment.
Excerpt from: Sri Swami Satchidananda. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
A mindful person on a spiritual path of self-awakening has a constant desire for personal growth and self-improvement. A major step along the path of personal growth is the continuous study and practice of non-attachment. Non-attachment is a state of mind that will help an individual both in times of happiness and in times of distress. Life is a mixture of pleasure and pain, of comfort and hardship. By being attached to the highs and lows in life a person suffers unnecessary hardship. The practice of non-attachment is performed when an individual is no longer focused on the outcome, but rather on the journey. They take pleasure when good things come and view pain as a teacher for self-improvement. They no longer cling to the pleasure of life, hoping that joy will never leave, and no longer feel overwhelmed by pain, fearing that it will never end.
Practicing non-attachment is about coming to terms with reality. Observing life and evaluating all areas of life for self-improvement, preparing for the storms that are yet to come without living in fear, and having gratitude for all the good in life. Joy for the good fortune that has yet to come with an understanding that hardship shall also arrive, and accepting the truth that both hardship and good fortune shall pass in time. Attachment is all about rationalizing. Rationalizing is a way of thinking in which we tell ourselves all the things that are not true, in order to justify our current circumstance. Non-attachment is admitting the truth that a person is solely responsible for their lot in life and accepting the truth that they create their reality. A person can only control three things in life:
- How a person thinks
- How a person feels
- How a person manages and reacts to any circumstance or event
It is natural for a person living in the material world, who identifies with the body and mind, to become attached to personal relationships, things and events. Attachment develops when we identify with a person or thing and believe that we need this for happiness. The material self or ahamkara will do anything to keep the object of its attachment within its sphere of influence. As a result, a person will do anything without question or moral concern in order to find temporary fulfillment. This will lead to negative behaviors like manipulation, greed, abuse and even violence. In its milder form, attachment is manifested as clinging, believing that the object of desire enhances the self. However, when a person no longer identifies with the material mind and body and identifies with the spiritual self, they start to understand the true meaning of non-attachment and begin to find lasting happiness and true fulfillment in life:
- Expectations no longer control a person’s life.
- Emotions arise, but a person has space to evaluate and use emotions at appropriate moments. Emotions don’t catch a person off guard.
- A person has the clarity of mind and is able to see truth in all things.
- Much does not bother a person, but they do not tolerate harmful behavior.
- A person does not chase after happiness but just enjoys it when it’s present, and releases it when it dissolves.
- The sense of spaciousness and freedom they feel brings a genuine contentment that can never be found in temporary experiences.
Being non-attached does not mean that a person does not develop deep meaningful relationships with people or he or she does not enjoy the victories in life. Being non-attached is facing the truth that anything in the physical world will not provide you with lasting happiness. Therefore, you can enjoy the riches and beauty of life without clinging to anything or any person to give you a false sense of security or identity. Thus, there is an awakening from illusion. By practicing non-attachment, we become able to endure difficult situations, knowing that this too shall pass. Simultaneously, a person can enjoy the beautiful moments of life without being constrained by the fear that happiness will end—as both the good and bad will undoubtedly end. May all beings be happy and free and may all our thoughts words and actions contribute in some way to that happiness and to that free for all.
- Focus On The Here and Now. When you are attached to your desire, your mind is focused on the future, you are worried that whatever you wish for will not come true. When you are attached to the past, your mind is focused on defining who you are based on your personal history and you are unable to change and grow.
- Give Up The How and Focus on the Journey by Taking Action. While you stay focused on your journey to reach your dreams, there is no worry or concern if it is going to happen.
- Adopt The Attitude Of Personal Growth and Contribution. View the process as a learning experience. Every challenge that happens is an opportunity for you to learn. Thus, your happiness is not contingent upon having “arrived” at the destination.