9 Ways to Practice Non-Attachment

Letting go can lead you to inner peace and better performance in all areas of your life. Here are 9 ways to start practicing non-attachment.

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  • Being too attached to things we can’t control is one of the roots of suffering.
  • Non-attachment allows you to enjoy everything the world has to offer without fear of losing none of these things.
  • In the article below, you will find 9 practical ways you can start to practice non-attachment in your day-to-day life.

Allow me to start today’s article with a little story.

I once had a friend (let’s call him Jamie) who suffered several traumatic events in a relatively short period of time. Within six months, this man had to deal with a dissolving marriage, the death of his beloved dog, and the loss of a job he was passionate about.

Jamie was left angry at himself, the world, and the cruelty of fate. So, what did he do? After 2 months of pitying himself, Jamie decided to try something radical – he turned to spirituality for answers.

Jamie traveled to Varanasi, India. There, he somehow managed to organize himself to live in an Ashram for 2 months. For those unfamiliar – Ashram is an Indian spiritual monastery where monks learn and practice various spiritual techniques such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.

During those 2 months, Jamie lived as a monk. His days consisted of nothing but spiritual practice. He literally had no contact with his friends, family, or the western world in general.

Well, what do you think Jamie did after he returned from India? No, he did not give up all his worldly possessions and start living on the streets. Instead, living in an Ashram taught Jamie that all of his problems were rooted in attachment to material things, his own ego, and passing moods.

After these 2 months, Jamie started building a new life for himself. With a newly found attitude of non-attachment, Jamie managed to build a new career, start a new relationship. Oh, and from what I hear, Jamie also has a new pet – a beautiful cat called Rosie.

Jamie has spoken to me at length about the importance of non-attachment. Plus, I have done my own studying as well.

And, let me tell you this – practicing non-attachment is not easy, but it will do wonders for your quality of life. Your spirit will feel lighter once you start approaching the world and people from a place of non-neediness.

Why is non-attachment so important for our spiritual growth?

The answer to this is quite simple – non-attachment will improve our quality of life and make us more resilient.

What do I mean by resilience?

Well, life will undoubtedly bring us pain and suffering at times; however, by practicing non-attachment, we learn to face even the most difficult experiences without taking them on as our own hardships. This is what I call true spiritual resilience.

The more we practice accepting whatever comes our way (even if it’s pain or suffering), the more we can allow our minds to be free of them. And, as you may already know, a relaxed mind is so much better at problem-solving than a stressed-out mind.

Does non-attachment mean that I will not care about the world, people, and my goals?

Becoming indifferent to everything around you is not the same as non-attachment.

Lacking any interest in the world around you is called detachment. Detachment is not something you want to engage in. It is a trait commonly associated with many mental illnesses.

Becoming non-attached is something entirely different – it means that you approach the world from a place of contentment. You always do your best in every area of your life, simply because you already are spiritually fulfilled. You have nothing to lose. And, I mean this in the best way possible.

Even if a person practicing non-attachment fails, they will move on quickly. They know that there are always circumstances that they can’t control. So, in the long run, these people do not let anything hurt their body, spirit, and mind.

Do I have to be religious or spiritual to practice non-attachment?

Non-attachment is essentially one of the most important concepts within Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as many other religions and philosophies. This might scare some people (atheists for example) away from the concept of non-attachment.

While it may be hard for someone who has never practiced these religions or philosophies to understand how people can live without attachment, they actually make complete sense. The concept of attachment refers to what we invest our energy into; we attach ourselves to different things such as physical objects, ideas, ideals, and people – both romantic partners and friends alike.

The reality is that anyone can benefit from some of the concepts of non-attachment. Especially in a modern society that constantly pressures us to be someone we are not.

In my opinion, non-attachment is a concept that is very beneficial to everyone, regardless of race, social background, or religious views.

9 Ways to Practice Non-Attachment

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is all about being completely in tune with the present moment, rather than worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow or dwelling on what’s already happened yesterday. In mindfulness, the focus is on the sensations, emotions, and thoughts you are having right here at this very moment.

Another great thing about mindfulness is that it teaches you just how attached you are to everything around you. You will see how your mind dwells on other people, the future, the past, your mistakes, and your ego.

Paradoxically, by becoming more mindful about your attachments, you are also taking a huge step towards becoming non-attached to the world around you.

Put some healthy distance between you and your emotions

Emotions can often seem like they’re both incredibly powerful and completely out of our control. Whenever you are feeling a strong negative emotion such as anger or resentment, try to remember that your emotions are not who you are as a whole.

To put some distance between an emotion and your being, take a few minutes and figure out how the emotion took over you.

Go back in your mind and see the thoughts or the situation that caused the emotion. Become mindful about exactly what caused you to feel the negative emotion you are currently feeling. More often than not, you will quickly understand that you overreacted and the negative emotion will gently subside.

Stop worrying about what others think of you

Practicing non-attachment means not clinging to how other people make you feel about yourself by worrying constantly about what they might be thinking. It’s completely irrational anyway – most people are too busy thinking about themselves and their problems to think about someone else. Even if you do publicly make a fool out of yourself (happens to the best of us), it will be forgotten pretty much immediately.

Don’t believe me? Well, let me give you an example. Celebrities get into massive scandals all the time. We all read about these scandals, but do we truly care? We don’t, because we are too busy solving our own personal problems.

It is incredibly freeing to finally understand that people just don’t think about us that much. This does not mean that people are selfish, it is just how we are wired.

Practice gratitude more often

Many people obsess about what they don’t have while ignoring all the amazing things they already do have. This is not being present in your life, and it only makes you more unhappy over time.

Being grateful is extremely important for someone looking to practice non-attachment. By being grateful for what you have, you effectively shift your focus away from a feeling of lack – something that is a massive obstacle for people who want to become non-attached.

As weird as it sounds, becoming grateful takes work. There will be days when you will feel like you have nothing to be grateful for. Remember that on days like this gratefulness is especially important!

If you are going through a tough time, start simple – be grateful for things as simple as the sun, the air you breathe, and your own consciousness. I am not exaggerating when I say that there is always something to be grateful for. And, focusing on these things will make you feel that much lighter.

Embrace your impermanence

One of the ways to practice non-attachment is by realizing that nothing lasts forever. Everything has an expiration date, including our own existence. No matter how successful and rich you might be, one day you will have to give it all away. For some, this can be an extremely distressing idea at first.

When we attempt to avoid the reality of impermanence, it can lead us to take life for granted. We stay in our comfort zones and do not care for our relationships. All because we never accept that this one life is all we have. We NEED to make the most of it!

Try getting used to the idea of impermanence. It will set you free and allow you to approach material things and other people from an angle of non-attachment.

Use systems instead of goals for making progress

If you practice non-attachment you should recognize that sometimes it’s okay not to nail all your lofty goals. Instead, your focus should be on constant improvement and perfecting the systems that you use for moving towards your goals.

For example, let’s take dieting – most people will start a diet by figuring out how much weight they want to lose in a given time. Makes sense, right? Well, even if you do achieve your goal, it is highly unlikely that this solution will work in the long term.

The best way to lose weight would actually be to focus on trying different diets and exercise regimens until you find ones that you truly enjoy. Here, you will focus on finding the perfect system instead of going for a concrete goal. And, once you do find the perfect system, you will achieve all your goals without breaking a sweat!

Sure, this kind of method takes some trial and error, but I promise that the results will be much better in the long run.

Stop attaching too much meaning to material things

People attach meaning to many material things, such as money and cars. They may feel that having a certain amount of money or owning a certain car will make them happy.

However, over time they find out that temporary happiness has nothing on living in true joy and peace.

Now, I am not against material things – I love beautiful cars and designer clothes as much as the next girl. I am human after all!

Still, I know that these things are only temporary. And, most importantly, I do not let my ego get involved with owning these things.

Let me give you an example of an unhealthy relationship with material things. Let’s say that someone has been dreaming about a certain car for all his life. Finally, this person makes enough money to afford this car and he buys it.

Now, let’s say that a year passes by and the economy goes bad. The income of our hero takes a severe hit and he is not able to afford this car anymore. Someone who attaches too much meaning to material things will be devastated in this scenario. This car was his dream and losing it feels exactly like losing a limb.

The man gets depressed, angry, and resentful. Over time, he is not as passionate about his job as he used to be. His family and business relationships also suffer. Why?

All because the man felt as if this car was a part of him. In reality, it was just that…a car.
Someone who practices non-attachment is free to move on. He understands that while beautiful things like luxury cars are nice, they have no deeper meaning to them.

Paradoxically, I have also noticed that people who practice non-attachment find it so much easier to go after material things they want.

Try not to attach too much meaning to material things that you love. After all, these things have nothing to do with who you are as a human being.

Do not resist the present moment

Resisting what is happening in your life right now does never help. And yes, this includes less than fortunate situations as well.

It is very common for people to resist the present moment, and resistance only causes more stress and adds further confusion to an already complicated situation.

For example, if you are unhappy at your job right now, it does not help to think “I am so stressed out right now because of this job.”

By doing so, you only cloud your mind with unnecessary negativity. And, being overtly negative is not good for your judgment – you will find it that much harder to find solutions for your problems.

You can either resist the not-so-awesome present by thinking about how horrible it is and wishing it were different, or you can try to accept the fact that it is happening and then take action. I promise that your decisions and actions will be much more effective if you do not resist the present.

In a nutshell, practicing non-attachment means that you give up on wishing you were at a different place and time. You always work with the here and now, no matter how difficult the present may be.

Practice meditation daily

Meditation has been scientifically proven to increase happiness and peace (and decrease anxiety).

Now, if you are new to meditation, don’t be afraid. While there are uncountable different meditation techniques out there, it is actually super simple to get started.

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not necessary to have a spiritual focus when meditating, and you do not need to sit in any special position. In fact, you can practice meditation sitting up or lying down, with your eyes open or closed. At first, just focus on finding a way to make meditation comfortable for you.

So, how does one start? Just focus on your breath for 5-10 minutes each day. Notice all the sensations associated with the breath. If your mind drifts off, gently come back to focusing on your breathing.

When you practice this each day, you will find it that much easier to practice non-attachment in your life.

Finishing thoughts

If you’re willing to practice these techniques, I think it’s safe to say that your life will be a little more peaceful.

Make it a daily habit of applying these ideas in your life and the more you will find yourself feeling happier and lighter as time goes on. Soon enough, you will learn to enjoy the moment for what it is – beautiful!