Non-attachment is an important quality for relationships. If you’re surprised you’re not the only one. But non-attachment is a highly beneficial state of mind in all areas of life – in our relationships with people, with possessions and even with our own physical body.
It’s important to clarify that non-attachment is not the same thing as indifference. Indifference means a lack of interest and sympathy towards a person or object. Non-attachment, on the other hand, refers to an objective and independent state of mind; it springs from a deep understanding of the human condition.
Nurturing a non-attachment mindset can help you both in times of joy and sorrow. Life is a mixture of pleasure and pain, of comfort and hardship. We cling to pleasure, hoping that it will never leave, and we are overwhelmed by pain, fearing that it will never end. But by practicing non-attachment we become able to endure difficult moments with a certain sense of humour, knowing that— as a wise saying goes —this too shall pass. In the same way, we can enjoy the beautiful moments of life without being tainted by the fear that they will end, as they inevitably will.
This doesn’t mean that you should live in fear, looking over your shoulder for the shadow that threatens to eclipse your happiness. In fact, it calls for quite the opposite – that you release your attachment to success or pleasure and instead return to the only thing that is invariably present, stable and safe: your centre of pure awareness and pure love.
When you practice non-attachment in your intimate relationships, you find one of the pathways that leads to unconditional love. Only a non-attached person can love unconditionally, that is, without expecting anything in return. Being attached to someone means that you love him or her primarily because of his or her proximity or convenience, which makes you feel good. But what happens when your loved one does something that upsets you, or simply decides to leave? All too often, attached love then turns into bitterness, anger and resentment.
When you love with non-attachment, you are not concerned with the results of your loving, which emanates from you just like perfume from a flower. You can love out of a genuine overflow of energy from the heart, without any conditions or limitations. If attached love expresses itself by the words “I love you, because…”, detached love just says “I love you,” without any conditions. Going one step further, you will realise that pure, unconditional love, is best expressed by the words “I love.” As a great mystic once said: “Love is not a relationship, it is a state of being.”
Unconditional love is independent of the object of love. Although in a particular moment of your life your love might be focused on one specific person, the act of loving does not depend on him or her. If that person disappeared from your life, the unconditional love would still be there, overflowing from the heart, ready to focus on another wonderful human being when the right time comes.
Non-attachment brings to your loving a quality of universality, whereby the object of your love is the subject of your outpouring but not the cause of it. The source of any form of love is inside you, and you don’t depend on anyone to be able to express it. This is one of the most liberating, mind-expanding shifts that a person can experience.
Perhaps, you have always believed that another person is responsible for bringing you into the wonderful state of being that you call “love.” But this erroneous conception is the reason why you cling to others: you are afraid of their departure and thereby burden them with the task of making you happy. Once you understand that love springs from within you and that no one else is responsible for it, you can continue loving others, but the fear of being deserted disappears. You realise that no event in life, not even the death of your loved one, can take this state of being away from you.
Learning to practice non-attachment is one of the most important tools in developing unconditional love. Accepting the impermanence of life means reshaping all of our assumptions about existence to enable us to enjoy the present moment with intensity and fearlessness.
According to Deepak Chopra: “In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty… in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.”
Chopra suggests these steps on your journey of non-attachment:
1. Today I will commit myself to detachment. I will allow myself and those around me the freedom to be as they are. I will not rigidly impose my idea of how things should be. I will not force solutions on problems, thereby creating new problems. I will participate in everything with detached involvement.
2. Today I will factor in uncertainty as an essential ingredient of my experience. In my willingness to accept uncertainty, solutions will spontaneously emerge out of the problem, out of the confusion, disorder, and chaos. The more uncertain things seem to be, the more secure I will feel, because uncertainty is my path to freedom. Through the wisdom of uncertainty, I will find my security.
3. I will step into the field of all possibilities and anticipate the excitement that can occur when I remain open to an infinity of choices. When I step into the field of all possibilities, I will experience all the fun, adventure, magic and mystery of life.