Understanding Impermanence and Practising Non-Attachment– the answer to true freedom

Welcome back Guys and Gals. It’s great to see you again! 🙂

“Progress is impossible without change” – George Bernard Shaw

The world we live in is always evolving. For some of us, the thought of change evokes stress, fear and anxiety, particularly when we feel we have no control over it. It is normal to feel these emotions in the face of uncertainty.

Stress, fear, anxiety…we feel these emotions because of the expectations we have for what our lives should look and feel like and when something de-rails our plans we experience disappointment. We panic because we don’t know what to do next. We feel sad because we mourn the loss of the life we planned for ourselves. Why? Because we form attachments to everything in our lives – work, relationships, goals, houses, cars, you name it. We expect things to last forever.

Attachment is an innate characteristic in human beings. Babies form attachments very early on in their lives to caregivers and objects. So, I suppose we could say we are programmed to be attached to both people and objects. It is fine to have passion and emotions for other people or things however we need to be aware of the idea of non-attachment and impermanence and their involvement in stress, anxiety and fear. Bear with me, I’ll explain.

Impermanence is a concept discussed in both eastern and western philosophies. In eastern philosophy impermanence is the cornerstone of Buddhism and western philosophies explore the concept through the Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ work, change is fundamental to the world we live in.

Everything in existence is transient. Everything and everyone (YOU) is constantly changing.

Before I go any further, I’ll give you an insight into what I mean by non-attachment. Non-attachment is about journeying through life without letting anything (people, objects, situations) have ownership of you. When we can release our attachments to ideas, things or people, we start to experience less stress, anxiety and fear around change. Non-attachment does not mean that the world around you does not matter, it means that you are able to let things come and go in your life without experiencing prolonged negative effects… stress, anxiety and fear. To put your mind at ease, you can still feel love, feel excitement and passion whilst being non-attached to ideas, people or things.

It is OK to buy that phone you saw in the store last week, but if you are embracing non-attachment and impermanence, your world will not be turned upside down if you accidentally leave it on the bus next week while on the way to work.

It is OK to get that dream job, but if the company closes a few months later, you are able to pick yourself up and keep reaching for the stars.

It is OK to meet the lovely guy/gal next door but if they move away, you’re not consumed with disappointment and loneliness.

Understanding impermanence helps you practice non-attachment. Things, ideas, goals, relations will change. They will come and go. Non-attachment will help you cope with change better; to see it in a positive light rather than the big scary ogre we perceive it to be.

I debated whether to mention the current state of the world in this post and I’m still unsure as to whether I want to focus on that. I would like you to relate this post to any part of your life that stands out to you as you read this so I’ll keep this short.

Our lives are changing. Things may not be the same in a few months’ time. Our plans may have changed. We may have to adjust our goals. We may need new jobs. We may not be able to buy that house we have been saving up for right away but what we do have is a new perspective, a stronger sense of community, a fantastic opportunity for personal growth and a chance to start again.

A little bit of homework for you guys and gals… I promise it’s worth doing: The first step to practicing non-attachment and impermanence is having an awareness of your attachments and expectations. Reflect on ideas, objects, relationships and goals in your life to which you are attached and write these down.

Try to identify all the positive things about the items on your list and accept that there are aspects about those things that you may no be able to control. Things are not permanent and likely to change. Remind yourself that this not a bad thing. Change is OK and does not have to be scary. Change can lead to positive things.

Affirmation: “This too shall pass.

When things are bad, remember it won’t always be this way. Take one day at a time.

When things are good, remember it won’t always be this way. Enjoy every moment” 🙂

Key Points

Everything is in existence is transient and that is ok. Change is a journey to new and exciting season in your life.

Impermanence helps us through the bad times with the knowledge that better days are ahead of us.

Experience and cherish people, moments and objects while they are present then don’t be afraid to let them go when it’s time to. Open your mind and heart to the possibility of a novel way of living, feeling and thinking.

Remember to live purposefully and be the best version of yourself

Manuela xoxo

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