When people think about non-attachment, they may worry that the closer they manage to get to it, the less interesting they might become. After all, isn’t it our views, our opinions, our likes and dislikes, that make us who we are? Who are we, if we take all that away, and are simply ourselves? Instead of vibrant, multi-coloured beings, would we become sort of grey and wishy-washy? Without our emotional outbursts would be less than we are with them?
I like to think that non-attachment is just a way of holding on less tightly to our beliefs, our opinions, our goods and bads, our rights and our wrongs. It doesn’t mean that we can’t still love strawberries and cream, or sunny days. Of course we’ll still love our families, our children and our friends. If we’re lucky, we may also love our work and our homes. We don’t need to get greyed out by a developing spirituality. Instead, we can still live our lives to the full. If we want to wear bright colours and really enjoy them, so be it. If we truly savour a huge piece of chocolate cake, why not? We are being mindful in our appreciation of the flavour and texture! If you’ve ever met someone you would describe as deeply spiritual, would you also describe them as boring? Most of the inspirational teachers, healers and yogis I’ve met have an infectious zest for life, a joy and humour which engages everyone they meet. The trick is to hold onto life less tightly and discover the joy inherent in more and more of life. Becoming more present in day to day living, and finding less time to stress over the yesterdays and tomorrows. Being human, we will always have likes and dislikes, but instead of the huge troughs and peaks of our lives, perhaps the ground can become a little more even, our path a little easier, simply by releasing our strong hold on the way we want things to be.
When we first learn to meditate, just the sitting and being still can be so hard. We very slowly become more comfortable with this, until we can lengthen the stillness, and gently start to quieten the mind. After many such practices, we may eventually have a more profound experience; we may genuinely experience a deep inner peace. We will want to recover that same sense of peace the next time we sit quietly. We may not find it. It may take many more practices before we find it again. And here we find the challenge – we are to practise non-attachment even here. When we meditate, we learn to let go of the outcome. Some days, it will be wonderful, we will feel wonderful. Other days, it will be hard – our mind will refuse to quieten down, our body will be aching and desperate to move. And we still practice, regardless of whether it is easy or hard, wonderful or terrible. And in continuing to practice anyway, we are learning a steadiness of purpose, a steadfastness which we can use in our lives. We learn to let go of the outcome in all our pursuits. We don’t let go of what makes us ourselves, but we do let go of the tightly-held beliefs with which we attempt to make ourselves right, and others wrong. We find the unity between us and those around us, instead of the differences. Not boring, not dull, but actually quite spectacular.