Finding where you're attached is easy. Letting go of that attachment is the hard part.
In my life, I'm constantly noticing my attachments. Some are obvious, while others lie dormant and creep in when I least expect it. Regardless of how the attachments manifest, the fact is, I've got a lot of them. And if I had to guess, so do you.
So how do we recognize our attachments? What's wrong with them, anyway? And how do we let go of them?
To start, recognizing what you're attached to is very easy. Let's do a quick exercise.
Has anyone ever taken anything away from you, which then caused you to get upset? Guess what. You were attached to that thing.
How about people. We all know that our most intimate relationships often involve attachment. In fact, we romanticize this attachment. And while a natural intermingling of your energies with those of another human being is beautiful, healthy, and natural, your dependence on that other human being as the source of your well-being is not.
And that's what attachment is. It's the dependence on another person, place, or thing, in order to feel okay. Put another way, when you lose that person, place, or thing, you're not okay. And that's exactly how you uncover the areas of attachment in your life.
The moment you feel like you're not okay, ask yourself what's missing? What did you lose? What expectation wasn't met? What person said the wrong thing? What event happened that messed with your plans?
All of these occurrences point to an attachment in your life. Maybe it was to a specific outcome. Maybe to another person's behavior. Or maybe to your own behavior.
It's easy to see our attachments when they're broken. However, it takes a keen eye to recognize them when they're in tact.
The issue with attachments is that they cause a great deal of unnecessary suffering in our lives, especially when they're broken. And even when they're not broken, we still experience a subtle undercurrent of suffering - that general uneasy feeling, that subtle anxiety behind your smile. You know what I'm talking about.
Think about the last time you were upset. If you can't remember, then just pay attention in the coming minutes or hours. I'm sure something will happen that will disturb you. That's okay, just notice it. You'll uncover an area of attachment that perhaps you didn't know existed within you.
Once you uncover where you're attached, what you're hooked to, you can start to untangle the attachment.
Each time the disturbance of attachment arises, rather than trying to fix it, to fight and wrestle with the outside world, you simple pause, turn inward, and relax around the tension.
Give your attachment room to escape. Normally, you tense around it and try to buckle down and fix whatever is happening around you. Not this time. You're too wise for that now.
Instead, you now recognize the second it arises, and you relax. You relax and release the disturbing energies within you. Your heart might hurt, you may have a pit in your stomach, or your shoulders could be tense. However it manifests in you physically, you now know to let it be.
In fact, letting it go is really letting it be. It's letting whatever inner resistance or energy dissipate on its own, without your involvement.
It's certainly not always easy, which is why you start with the small stuff, the little attachments - the expectation for the weather to be a certain way, how a work meeting should go, or what someone should say to you.
Let go of these little attachments as much as possible, all day every day, and see how your life magically blooms into a masterpiece.
Live with substance!