Apparently the Buddha stated that he believed all human suffering comes from attachment. Hmmmm........... what does that mean? How can we live, love and cherish without becoming attached? Isn't detachment a form of coldness and not caring? Isn't that an excuse to opt out?
When I first encountered this attachment theory, it made no sense to me at all but as I've grown and changed my outlook over many years, I get it now.
My understanding is it's about not having emotional expectations of how we think things 'should' be. It's not about not caring, but rather, accepting things as they are. It doesn't mean we sit back and do nothing towards what we want out of life, (or the injustices we come across regularly), it just means if it doesn't work out the way we wanted, we don't become emotional cripples and exhausted victims. We view it as 'isn't that interesting' and move on. Next. Let's try again.
A dear friend of mine died recently and I've had a good chance to put not being attached into practice. Although I loved her dearly, I've been able to grieve quietly and let go pretty quickly. I'm a tad surprised as once I would have been a blubbering mess for weeks! I always hated saying good-bye to anyone - human or animal but I've noticed over the past few years it's become easier to farewell my loved ones. It's not that I love any less deeply or miss them any less when they're gone, it's because I've learnt to love and let go when the time comes and I now recognise when it's time. I'm not hanging on for dear life because I'm frightened of the pain of loss. I've experienced the deaths of countless loved ones in my lifetime and I regularly became traumatised and full of dread as to how I'd handle the next one and all that deep pain and sadness I knew and felt so strongly. I became frightened of stress and the effect it had on my body and physical health and anxiety was the underlying primary emotion.
Fortunately, after much meditation and self reflection, I'm now able to view so-called problems as opportunities to remain calm and focus on all the good stuff around me. It's not that the situations we encounter in life aren't sometimes awfully difficult to handle, but I find if I accept, rather than fret and worry or rage about it, I feel more in control, more peaceful and more able to find the best course of action to take - or not take.
Learning how to let go of attachment to things and people has been so freeing and largely instrumental in my health recovery. Having attachment to people and expected outcomes is exhausting because it rarely works out exactly the way you think it should and then you use all that energy getting annoyed and frustrated. Rather, if we learn acceptance, it gives us better clarity and more energy to find effective solutions to everything that comes our way.
Practicing acceptance, rather than attachment, brings more peace and Every Day Gets Better.