Becoming attached to people, things and situations is part of the conditioning of almost every human being. Attachment develops when we identify with a person or thing and begin to believe that we need this for our happiness. But attachment is not love. In its most extreme manifestation the self will do anything to keep the object of its attachment within its sphere of influence and control. An addiction to any person or thing leads to behaviors such as manipulation, abuse and even violence. In its milder form, attachment is manifested as clinging, believing that the self is enhanced by the object of desire. Grief, rage or depression most often follows if loss of the object occurs.
Yoga teacher and Zen practitioner Michael Stone says; Non-attachment, often gets translated as “detachment,” which implies that you don’t care too much about the thing or person in question. Rather, attachment always involves clinging not to the person, but the story you are holding about them. Attachment is about your viewpoint, not about the world itself. When you hear “non-attachment,” he said, you should be translating that as a very deep engagement.
In contrast to attachment, true love springs from the divine source within. Nothing can ever be added or taken away from an aware being. Therefore love does not seek to possess and capture. Love can only display its deepest nature by freely flowing and connecting in light with all other beings.
Interconnectivity vs. Codependence
How do we balance the innate need for autonomy with the desire for connection and intimacy? We not only enjoy feeling wanted and appreciated but need to have a purpose.
Investing mentally, emotionally and spiritually into partnerships provides a sense of importance and healthy interdependence through positive mirroring with feelings of love for another that reflect and encourage self love, provide unconditional support, and that special togetherness that feels liberating.
Yet, if one partner gives too much, ignoring his or her boundaries and constantly feels unappreciated this dynamic can create a void in which a connection to the self is lost. This codependent cycle creates a thick residue of resentment, anger and regret which causes an eruption and, if expressed, an argument about the same thing can occur over and over again that can eat away at the happiness of both partners slowly and painfully day by day.
Love in the now by Releasing Expectations
Yoga teaches that the root of all suffering begins with attachments and so often we cling to our relationships and attach our hopes, fears and even identities to our partner. It teaches trusting that all we can know and experience exists right here and now and not in some ideal or distant future.
The fear of losing someone, the doubt of not living up to another’s expectations or our own unrealistic ideas can create a grasping onto those we feel close to which ultimately keeps us feeling unhappy, dissatisfied and even unloved.
Instead, why not simply enjoy the beautiful moments you can spend together today, honor one another and invite gratitude in for the little things like laughing, holding hands and kissing?
Mutually Enhancing Relationships
A truly intimate loving relationship requires compassion for yourself first. If we can embrace all that the present moment has to offer, and live life as you freely choose then, you will happily experience that same freedom in your relationships.
We often overstep each other’s boundaries, take on defensive or judgmental tones and project ideas onto another when we fear losing someone, or worse when we fear losing ourselves. If we confront our fears with gentleness we can respect what makes us feel insecure and also understand our partners vulnerabilities and learn to transcend these obstacles together with trust rather than critique or judgment.
Connecting with Source
No person, thing or situation is the source of your happiness. Nothing outside of yourself can fill the emptiness and aloneness that we all sometimes feel. There is something deep within that you need to connect with, to rely upon, to gain wisdom and inspiration from. This is the divine source that is your true nature. There is little to be gained in seeking love or approval from others. Being loved by another is a gift that we have nothing to do with. We cannot create or control another’s love.
Delighting in time spent and moments shared with people we love, enjoying things we appreciate in life, feeling content and fulfilled in particular situations such as fulfilling work, are all beautiful experiences. But we need to realize that we are all free spirits, passing through this world, seeking to overcome the limitations of our conditioning and to develop our capacity to love. Learning to love in freedom, and practicing non-attachment in this passing physical world are perhaps the biggest steps we can take towards growth in awareness.
The story of who you think you are is vital for the way you move through the world. You just have to be willing to adjust, hone, and occasionally change your narrative about yourself and your relationships, which allows for a very deep form of paying attention. If we can keep telling our stories about ourselves and others mindfully, without clinging to them, then, perhaps, we can take Garth’s advice, and actually “Live in the now!