How to Practice Non-Attachment

What we anticipate will happen in the future– our plans, our expectations, our hopes, our fears– generally doesn’t occur in the way we picture it in the moment. It is a part of our imagination, our conception of how we envision the future based on our current feelings, emotions, and thoughts. How can we anticipate how we are going to feel in the future? How can we predict that our hopes and dreams will not have evolved or will not have taken a completely different course years from now? How can we know for a fact that we will not be the same person later on? Everything is constantly changing, including ourselves. Think about the position of a flower, or the state of an object. It never, if anything almost rarely, is in the same state for more than one time in its existence. Every living thing is constantly changing and is never the way that it once used to be. That is a fact, and that can be applied to ourselves. In thinking about happiness and what brings ecstasy, joy, love and positive feelings– there is a tendency to prolong or replicate that. But that is fleeting. In wanting to experience the same degree or intensity of that feeling, it is nearly impossible to achieve: every experience is unique in itself. The same applies towards negative feelings– hate, jealousy, anger, rage, irritability. Those too are passing moments, and we have a tendency to avoid and place them in our subconscious. What if we confronted those negative feelings and took this stance of non-permament detachment, absorbing this concept that nothing lasts forever, that this feeling too shall pass? Can we learn to accept, savor, and take things as they are, rather than trying so excruciatingly hard to avoid what feels uncomfortable and painful? Can we learn to accept, savor, and let go of something pleasant even if we would like to hold onto it for a lifetime? While there is sensibility and structure in planning ahead, there is a time to let go and let things flow and be as they are, especially things that are outside of our control. When something doesn’t go as planned, falls out of place, or your intuition tells you otherwise, follow that inner voice, learn to be flexible, and let things be.

Jennifer Im
Written by Jennifer Im
Jenn is currently getting her EdM in School Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her true passion is in working with youth and adolescents, particular those with traumatized backgrounds and history of mental health issues, and helping them cope and improve their overall functioning. She works at a Substance Use Research Center at Columbia University Presbyterian Hospital, where she helps with research on medication-assisted treatments with a mindfulness component. In her free time, she enjoys teaching and practicing yoga, psychology, reading, fitness and health, outdoorsy activities, mindfulness, researching, consciousness, and exploring new things.