Why Non-attachment is one of the Keys to a Happy Life & Relationship.

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on Sep 10, 2015
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Summer of Love Goodbye

You might be surprised to hear that non-attachment is an important quality for relationships.

Isn’t non-attachment something very similar to indifference? Actually, not at all.

Non-attachment is a highly beneficial state of mind in all fields of life, and in our relationship with people, with possessions, and even with our own physical body.

Non-attachment is not Indifference 

It’s important to clarify this common misunderstanding. Indifference means a lack of interest and sympathy toward a person or object.

Non-attachmentt, on the other hand, refers to the state of mind of being objective and not clinging, and it springs from a deep consideration of the conditions of human existence.

Imagine that you go on an organized trip with a group of people that you don’t know. The participants are coming from all over the world and you are not going to see them again after the holiday is over.

In the group, there is someone that you find really attractive and interesting. You know that you will share only a short time with him or her, but you intend to make the most out of the few days that you can spend together. You want to live these moments with intensity and passion, knowing that they won’t last forever, and that you will have to part ways. You accept the situation and still open yourself fully to the experience.

There isn’t any indifference here, right? Still, the circumstances of this encounter force you to be non-attached to the other person and the experience you shared (unless you want to suffer greatly).

This too Shall Pass 

You might think that our intimate relationships do not develop under the same conditions as the example above. But is that really so? After all, we human beings always share a finite lapse of time together, just like the people on a packaged trip.

The major difference is that, in real life, you don’t have any clue about when your shared time with someone is going to come to an end.

The circumstances of life, the frailty of the human condition, the instability of emotions—all of these factors make relationships much less predictable than we usually believe. If you meditate deeply upon the impermanence of life, non-attachment will be the inevitable consequence.

But just as in the example above, non-attachment in real life does not mean indifference: on the contrary, it will empower you to live every relationship with love and intensity, knowing that it could end at any moment.

Non-attachment is a state of mind that will help you both in times of joy and sorrow. Life is a mixture of pleasure and pain, of comfort and hardship. We cling to pleasure, hoping that it will never leave, and we are overwhelmed by pain, fearing that it will never end.

By practicing non-attachment, we become able to endure difficult moments with a certain sense of humor, knowing that—as a wise saying goes—this too shall pass. In the same way, we can enjoy the beautiful moments of life without being tainted by the fear that they will end—as they undoubtedly will.

All this doesn’t mean that you need to live in constant insecurity, fearing that everything you rely upon could crumble at any given moment. Quite the opposite, not being attached to success and failure, or pleasure and pain, brings you back into connection with the only thing that is invariably present, stable, and safe: your center of pure awareness and pure love.

Toward Unconditional Love

When you start practicing non-attachment in your intimate relationships, you will have found one of the pathways that leads to unconditional love. Only a non-attached person can love unconditionally, that is, without expecting anything in return.

Being attached to someone means that you love him or her primarily because of his or her proximity or convenience, which makes you feel good. But what will happen when your loved one does something that upsets you, or simply decides to leave? All too often, attached love then turns into bitterness, anger and resentment.

When you love with non-attachment, you are not concerned with the results of your loving, which emanates from you just like perfume from a flower. You can love out of a genuine overflow of energy from the heart, without any conditions or limitations. If attached love expresses itself by the words “I love you, because…”, detached love just says “I love you,” without any conditions. Going one step further, you will realize that pure, unconditional love, is best expressed by the words “I love.” As a great mystic once said: “Love is not a relationship, it is a state of being.”

Love is an Overflowing

Unconditional love is independent of the object of love. Although in a particular moment of your life your love might be focused on one specific person, the act of loving does not depend on him or her. If that person disappeared from your life, the unconditional love would still be there, overflowing from the heart, ready to focus on another wonderful human being when the right time comes.

Non-attachment brings to your loving a quality of universality, in which the object of love is not anymore the cause of it. The source of any form of love is inside you, and you don’t depend on anyone to be able to express it.

This is one of the most liberating shifts that a person can experience. Perhaps, you have always believed that another person is responsible for bringing you into the wonderful state of being that you call “love.” But this erroneous conception is the reason why you cling to others, you are afraid of their departure, and you put upon them the burden of making you happy. Once you understand that love springs from within you and that no one else is responsible for it, you can continue loving others, but the fear and the clinging disappear. You realize that no event in life, not even the death of your loved one, can take this state of being away from you.

Learning to practice non-attachment is one of the most important tools to develop unconditional love, a non-clinging attitude toward both things and people, and the capacity to enjoy the present moment with intensity. Accepting the impermanence of life means reshaping all of our assumptions about existence—but thanks to this process, the possibility arises for us to love unreservedly, without conditions, and without fear.

 

More wise words on love & career, from Seane Corn:

~

Relephant:

How to Attract a Conscious/Evolved Man.

~

Author: Raffaello Manacorda

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/TheeErin


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About Raffaello Manacorda

Raffaello Manacorda (but you can call him Raffa) is an international Tantra Yoga teacher and coach.

You can get Raffa's free book: 10 Ways to Overcome Jealousy.

He is the author of Conscious Relationships, a practical guide to evolved intimate relationships, and of Un-Jealous Yourself, a video course on how understanding, overcoming and communicating jealousy.

Comments

45 Responses to “Why Non-attachment is one of the Keys to a Happy Life & Relationship.”

  1. TJH says:

    I am so in love with this article… exactly how I strive to live. Being given a second chance, leaning into every emotion, loving fully and unattached… everyday magic. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Stacey says:

    Absolutely brilliant article.
    Thank you for this expression of love offered to us.

    With aloha
    Stacey

  3. Kris says:

    Sounds like someone slept with his wife so he said screw it.

  4. Justas says:

    I basically just nodded my head through the article. It totally makes sense. Thanks!

  5. Beth says:

    So wonderful to find this article. I am grateful in ways I cannot express in words.

  6. Chad says:

    I truly love and respect this article…. How beautiful would it be to live this life to the fullest and allow happiness and joy to flow freely through each experience? How liberating would it be to feel your fantasies and honor your emotions with respect…verses jealousy, angst, and misery? If we were to let go of all the misrepresentations of our true self and truly accept this reality for all it’s pure magic….non-attachment would show us that there is no need to create a painful existence or hurtful relationships to coexist within a society that is trapped, but rather allow one’s being to expand and grow, to become a more confident entity within their world, their life, their existence.

  7. Esther says:

    Esther.

    Cool article

  8. Sam K says:

    The argument is missing an important facet. The trip with strangers is the same as a normal committed life with a partner, the added complication is you don't know the end date of life as you do a trip, in a committed relationship you agree to go "till death do you part", on a trip that is the end date of the trip. What hurts and becomes a problem is if during the trip after you have been intimate and enjoyed the time with this girl/guy they move on and have the same with another person on the trip before it is over. That's why commitment exists, everyone knows there is an expiry date on life but that doesn't mean everyone is fine with their partner just moving on early because we invest too much to just watch it idly move onto another person, it's not clingy its human nature.

  9. Roger says:

    I love you for who you are not what you are to me.

  10. Alex says:

    Great article. I have a question. How would you go about transforming an attached clingy love to one person which cause you great deal discomfort to a non-attachment love.

    Thanks

  11. loving skeptic says:

    Post-baby-boomer bourgeois narcissism learning to cope with social disintegration and transitoriness. "My universal love is my own property and doesn't need you, the object. You, the object, are unnecessary and contingent to my overflowing self-sufficient radness". The ideal self becomes a benevolent monad floating aimlessly in space, lovingly colliding with 'objects' on its solipsistic, inward obsessed journey.
    i.e.:'Non-attachment brings to your loving a quality of universality, in which the object of love is not anymore the cause of it. The source of any form of love is inside you, and you don’t depend on anyone to be able to express it.'

  12. lucky says:

    I need b carefull not getting attached 2 your writings… hahaha. Thanks Raffa!!!

  13. shawn armstrong says:

    Thanks all…What a great comment thread to sit with and allow the article to sink in. I have spent the last six months meditating an hour a day and really throwing light on being in the "Now!" This paragraph really helped solidify my vision of what loving in the now is!

    Learning to practice non-attachment is one of the most important tools to develop unconditional love, a non-clinging attitude towards both things and people, and the capacity to enjoy the present moment with intensity. Accepting the impermanence of life means reshaping all of our assumptions about existence—but thanks to this process, the possibility arises for us to love unreservedly, without conditions, and without fear.

  14. shawn armstrong says:

    Dear Raffaella Manacorda,
    I am thankful for the teachings you are sharing. I have learned a lot of really useful healthy things the last two days!
    This article was awesome.
    Thank youShawn

  15. Lisa says:

    This is beautiful, thank you for writing it. It offers a lot of insight about how we can come to terms with our mortality as well. Our lives consist primarily of our relationships with ourselves, the time we spend with ourselves in our bodies, which are mortal and will fail us at some point. We can be non-attached to our own existence while cherishing and enjoying it.

  16. Meg says:

    YES!! This is something I have put into practice in my own life. I recently had a relationship end with someone I love deeply. Although this practice didn't take the pain away completely, I am able to wish the best for him (and him for me), and I know that in order to grow we had to take different paths now. It's left me feeling like I've grown because of who we were and I know that I'll always carry that love for him but in a very healthy way. This approach and acceptance in life takes the selfishness out of the equation, it's not cold and indifferent, instead it's allowing the other person to fully come to the table with no expectations of who they should and shouldn't be. It also helps to take the fear out of change because after all, the end of a relationship, for most, is really about change and having to do some redefining in their lives. It was so nice to have someone in my life because we wanted each other there, not because we needed something to cling to.
    Thank you so much, relating to someone else's take on this was perfect timing for me.

  17. kumari says:

    Sometimes I think we make life far too hard and complicated ,getting back to basics , keep it simple somehow we keep churching this cocktail of the universe and too many ideologies- we need to know who we are ,day and night .We need validation and purpose in order to feel alive, compassion ,empathy and sensitivity -unless it is within us its difficult to brew it -.I do believe it does soon pass we are projecting Mirrors so lets look and be our best even when the tide turns towards us. I am still growing- my branches are still not fully bloomed.

  18. Ironic says:

    I feel most of this is true… However if you love someone
    And if they struggle with alcohol or drug addiction
    Do you try and make humour of the bad times and say they will pass… Because then your acceptance and hypersensitivity to what's normal becomes blurred
    If you love them then you should help them… You don't want to enable them either… which then can bring in some conditions to receiving love not that you don't love them, you just can't be as InLove as u want Because of the dramas and protecting ones heart …
    If you just say well I was present to a beautiful love in what started out unknowingly as a codependent relationship.. but have grown to live in the place of unattached love, but the addiction is still there and the respect lessens .. But there are kids involved and you have made a commitment then what Just wait to be present for the next beautiful moment that becomes far and few between

  19. According to this logic, you would love a random stranger in the sub-Saharan Africa in equal measures to your own child. You would love a prisoner on death row in equal measure to your closest childhood friend. But of course that's ridiculous. No relationship, and hence no love can be "unconditional". Every relationship has conditions and/or expectations–that's what makes it a relationship. The two are inexorably intertwined and the entire notion of "unconditional love" is a myth. Attachment and possessiveness are two completely different properties to a relationship and I feel this article is muddying or making light of that distinction.

  20. Alison says:

    As someone who has suffered from an attachment disorder (that is, not being able to make attachments because of early trauma), I am hesitant to embrace non-attachment love as expression of unconditional love. Never forming attachments is very lonely. While there is no shortage of people willing to share moments of joy and happiness (however fleeting they may be), there is a paucity of “unattached” people that will be at your side in difficult times. I did not learn how to develop attachments until I was almost 30 years old. I have no friends or family from before that period- and I profoundly miss that. I miss having old friends with whom I can reminisce, siblings I can call when I feel like talking about my childhood. I am much happier, much healthier, much less lonely now that I have learned to form attachments. Attachment is far more than “clinginess” but rather developing a relationship with another person based on trust, respect and a commitment to be a friend, a lover, a parent or child. Attachment is important- it is integral to an individual’s sense of self and identity.

  21. Yeppers says:

    Yep, most people call it one night stands, summer love, and vacation flings. I love them fully and detach myself when the time is done.

  22. Ruby says:

    So how is this different to being Emotionally Unavailable? Somehow it sounds quite the same to me.

  23. Cholo says:

    Brilliant and wonderful. The audience should be thankful to writers like you. We wish to hear more of this kind of ideas. It’s almost Buddhist-like in sound, is that correct?

    In anyways, more like this!

  24. Brian says:

    This made several good points. I think the depiction is somewhat two-dimensional. I think it should be balanced with a passion that says, “I really do want you and want to keep you AND I let go anyway!” There is a paradox to be embraced that makes it all the more meaningful. I takes courage to both say, “I am all in!” and also to say, “My love does not constrain, it liberates.” Both loving and letting go are acts of generosity and vulnerability. There is a richness in life that can easily be missed in a simpler version of non-attachment. This can also cause you to step up your game and not take someone for granted. So, be really damn compelling as a lover, companion, friend, and the one you set free will hopefully want you back with the same fiery passion and conviction that you have. You can have both fire and freedom. Some freedom never gets exercised. It is mind-bendiingly both important and, done right, there is no need for it.

  25. Jerry52Seattle says:

    This is awful. It's for men who are afraid to get hurt. It appears logical on the surface, but it's actually cold and defensive. It's calculating and just an excuse to use others and shrug it off.

    A real relationship isn't about forgetting the other person when they walk out of the room. A human doesn't seek to turn feelings on and off. No human does that.

    This is just another way for guys to say, hey baby, it's been fun but buh-bye! This is awful.

  26. Courtney says:

    So, hypothetically your significant other with whom you are in a fully committed, monogamous relationship, cheats on you. How do you react to or deal with that in an unattached way? I realize that it could never be your own fault and you are not the cause of someone else’s infidelity. But I just can’t envision not being deeply hurt and bitter towards the person you trusted your whole heart to. I feel that I do practice non attachment in that my happiness does not rely on any other person or thing, or expectation of either. But having been in the situation I described, I just wish I were capable of keeping myself from being hurt in that way.

  27. Sara says:

    While reading this, I realized that my husband and I have been practicing non-attachment for quite sometime. Although we are not in a good place now, we are together because we choose to be, not because we are married. I know nothing of this world belongs to me. Changing to a vegan lifestyle really opened up my awareness to my place in the universe. I appreciate my friendships and the family I choose to have in my life. I choose travel and experiences over material possessions.

    Non-attachment is freedom and pure love. My only wish is that I had discovered non-attachment earlier in life.

    Peace & Love

  28. Andrew Timmins says:

    Wise words for happiness

    I think

  29. corrie says:

    this attitude is like being in a relationship with one foot out the door. I fee this is an excuse for commitment- phobes.

  30. Andy says:

    I identify with what comment 20., Alison, says. I had been bullied when I was little. Growing up, I didn’t know how to make friends. I really only started going out with girls and making friends in my mid twenties. And even after that I have not been able to have relationships with girls. When I was young and naive it did not bother me to have not had experiences with friends and girls. But now I know what I have missed out on. Having this blank period in my life really sucks. Being dropped by girls really sucks. I went on a once in a lifetime hike with a girl who dropped me right after it was done. I had hoped to meet up again with her. She probably practices this non-attachment thing. Practicing non-attachment is easier when you have actually had some relationships.

  31. TableSalt says:

    Eh, the problem with viewing a relationship as though it could end at any time, isn't exactly healthy. There's no contentment in always being on your toes, asking yourself if this is it, should you have a single, petty fight.

    Being hurt, if a break up happens, is natural if you actually gave a shit about the person. The difference is not to expect or rely on a single person to give you everything. Like, oh, your partner doesn't play videogames? That's cool. You have friends who do. Otherwise, if you make them your everything, when and IF they leave, you're left with nothing.

  32. Manwendra says:

    Very good article.. msy I know how to practice non-attachment?

  33. Red says:

    i love this article so much! it explains everything in my life right now.. thank you!

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