In society, we define attachment as “a feeling that binds one to a person, thing, cause, ideal, or the like; devotion; regard.” In psychology it is defined as “a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space.” Those definitions sound positive and desirable.
In spirituality, attachment has a different view. That “binding emotional feeling” could potentially be a trauma, when the receiver of such affection is no longer there or there is the danger that it may not be there anymore. Great emotional suffering is experienced by the unaware individual which could even affect his mental health.
There is nothing wrong with bonding with individuals or to have devotion to certain ideals or things as long as we remain stable, centered. Most will lose their stability when their object of attachment is not there anymore.
Spirituality observes the potential trauma of that experience and that is what this article will explore.
Life IS change. We know that intellectually. Practically, we may not.
What is attachment? In general, when an emotional need arises. This need has the power to be a trauma in our lives.
What is a trauma? When our beliefs, ideas and ideals are in conflict with what IS. That conflict is an internal rejection which is emotionally stored mostly in our subconscious, and giving us a view of Life with a biased perspective. In this way, the past, what happened IS still part of our present even though the past is gone.
We have attachments to ideas, beliefs, ideals. We have attachment to situations, circumstances. When someone close to us goes away, our circumstance will change. When we say that we are attached to someone, we are attached to the feeling of need being temporarily fulfilled by someone.
To be able to feel attachment in variable degrees of neediness, will allow us to feel it, which is very important to practically “know” attachment.
There is attachment to what we consider “self” and the sensations that this will bring. For instance, if I am an avid swimmer and I cannot swim for whatever reason, then the sensations of not being able to swim will be bothersome. If this need becomes emotional, then we may say that we are attached to swimming; but in reality, we are attached to the sensation that it brings. It is not the exercise itself bringing “addiction” but the sensation it leaves, which is very subjective.
Attachments will not allow us to become a witness of Life. Without witnessing Life, we cannot experience freedom.
How to deal with attachment?
In our society, attachments are expected and supported. They are “normal.” We may need to forget stereotypes or conditioned moral teachings to look and find attachments in our own lives. That is what takes more involvement from a seeker.
Very few will do that and recognize attachments as potential traumas.
Therefore, for the few who may be ready, here goes my “recipe:”
First and foremost, to OBSERVE that (whatever it is we find as attachment) in ourselves. To be able to see it there, without any masks or pretty words to hide it, without any judgment. Many times we may realize those after the fact, when we recall the experience after some time.
Second, to OBSERVE it in action. Life will bring a particular episode and we will react to it. Catch it there. It is important to FEEL it. Just to use words to make sense of it; will not allow us to truly see. Remember that the important item is how we FEEL in front of some Life episode. It is that feeling alone the one that brings the sensation of need, of being unable to be without. That is attachment.
Third and last, a deep feeling of the following fact of Life:
Life is change. Life is unpredictable. Life is temporary. Life is unexpected. Thus, it is impossible to possess something. Everything goes away. Do we see this as a fact?
Then it follows that everything; every experience, every person who crosses our path, every possession is borrowed from Life. The reality of impermanence is there, despite any social laws or rights which may bring us a sense of security.
Note that I am not inferring that a spiritual person must not possess things to avoid suffering. That is an infantile understanding which interestingly, many religious faiths will follow.
I am saying that while having things, experiences, circumstances, beliefs, ideas, etc. know that we are “borrowing” them. Life is leasing us something for a temporary time. That could be a wonderful wife/husband, a great job, our excellent health, etc. It is all “leased” to us for a temporary period. Those things are meant to eventually go away. We should keep that in mind, for it is a fact of Life. This is not meant to bring worry or despair. A tourist travels around. He is not meant to stay in a particular place. The same is with us. The joy of being a tourist is the freedom to travel, to know and try new things and that means to stay in continuous movement, in change. Just like Life. The important thing is to keep the stable center within.
With the understanding of the above, then we will pay attention to the intention of using the word “Mine.” In society we may need to use that word to deal with people, but know deep inside that we meant “leased,” “borrowed.” This sense of FEELING how everything is borrowed, will open the door to the witness. The one who doesn’t need to choose in Life, for everything whether coming or going; is meant to be appreciated as it IS. A witness is the ultimate way to appreciate Life.
Go left or go right. We will get to the same place eventually. Life is not a race. There is no prize or destination. It is a journey.
Therefore, appreciate the trip.
When attachment decreases, for sure our emotional stability increases.
Will resume writing on April 30th. Enjoy! 🙂