Is Non-attachment Turning Our Back on the World?

Non-attachment is a big part of what I’m working on right now. In yoga, non-attachment (sometimes called dispassion) is a very pivotal point. Does that mean complete detachment from life? From loved ones? From daily conveniences? In my experience, it’s two things. The first is learning to be detached from the desires of the ego, the part of our mind that is constantly being driven by attachments and aversions, likes and dislikes, wanting and avoiding. The second is becoming detached from the fruits (results, outcomes) of action. It’s okay to have a preference for the outcome, but being non-attached means staying calm no matter the result. In the bigger picture, this means being open to what life presents and trusting that your steps are always being led in the best direction. It also means being aware of every moment and of why our mind is leading us this way and that: is it because the ego craves/avoids something or because we’re in line with the true nature of our Self? To figure out the difference, one needs to cultivate an awareness of every moment, every breath, and the turning of the mind. You can start with this breath and this thought right now.

Let’s take, for example, hot showers. What I’ve found out about myself is that I can remain perfectly fine with no hot showers** for, say, 4 weeks, but after a while I realize that my preference would be for a hot shower. This morning I asked a friend to shower in their room so that I could have a hot shower. Needless to say, it was divine. So in this situation, non-attachment means being okay with not having a hot shower and cultivating equanimity for my current situation but at the same time realizing that my preference would be for a hot shower and doing what I can to make it a reality. I love being in India and traveling in general, and I realize that there are sacrifices to be made in certain situations. However, if I can have a hot shower I will take full advantage, knowing how happy it makes me.

**Note: I have had hot water by the bucketful in many places and cold showers from a shower head, just not the combination of hot water from a shower head. It’s not that I haven’t showered in a month. And I wash my feet twice daily, which is a necessity in most of India.

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