In yoga philosophy one of the main principles yogis are advised to work towards when it comes to the pursuit of happiness is non-attachment. But what does mean?
Healthy non-attachment has nothing to do with avoiding human connection or giving up and doing nothing. It’s about accepting what is and letting go of our expectations, desires and ambition. In other words, make a plan and have a goal in mind, but don’t be attached to a particular outcome. Accept what you have and who you are and simply resolve to make an effort, do your best and do it anyway, regardless of rewards or recognition.
This means we choose to take positive action but allow for stuff to unfold organically. We accept that others will do things differently to us (and that’s okay). If we make a mistake, well oops. What’s done is done. Let’s learn from it and move on. If we feel mortified or embarrassed, let’s sit with that feeling for a while. Chances are, nobody else is thinking about us quite as much as us!
We don’t have to pretend we are joyous when we don’t feel that way, we simply observe all thoughts and emotions without judgement. In other words, acknowledge all feelings regardless of how uncomfortable some are.
If we fight our grief, anger, fear or frustration, we will create deeper, internal struggles, which could possibly develop into challenging behavioural tendencies.
Is non-attachment easy? Of course not! And it’s not always possible (we are human after all!) However, yoga gives us space to reflect and become aware of these deeply embedded thoughts, movement and behavioural patterns. We notice that our thoughts are generally about a past we cannot change or a future we cannot predict. These samskaras (ways of being) are due to years of reacting in particular ways to particular things but, as we bring our focus inwards and observe sensation in each moment, we begin to truly understand why it is we tend to end up in the same place over and over again.
With practise, we will identify less with our thoughts. This is an essential ingredient when it comes to human happiness and contentment.