It is often said that attachment creates suffering and this is one of the foundations of Buddhism. And when it comes to attracting something into one’s life, attachment is said to be the very thing that will sabotage its arrival.
One only has to look at what they are attached to and what they are not attached to, to see this dynamic at work. What one is attached to is often what they don’t have and what they are not attached to is typically what they do have in their life.
This shows how important ones focus is in what shows up in their reality and what doesn’t. Logically, it seems right that one should place their attention on what they want and keep it there until it shows up.
However, through doing this, what one seeks will continue to allude them. Ideally, the intention is set and then one lets go; while carrying on with what needs to do in each moment of their life.
And attachment can easily lead to the ego mind becoming obsessed. For if one is not happy within or is not experiencing a sense of peace; there will be more pressure to get what one is attached to. Through getting this, one will expect to feel better about themselves or happier with their life.
So in this case, the more inner turmoil that one has, the more attachment there is likely to be. Through this, one can easily come to the conclusion that peace and happiness are attained through acquiring things.
And when it comes to the modern day world, this is not just a point of view that a small minority have for instance; it has become a ‘truth’ of the western world. Here, materialism is the new god and what will bring an end to people’s inner unrest.
The Other Extreme
On the other side of all this is the outlook that one should have no attachments and that materialism should be renounced. And if someone lives in a mountain and has therefore severed all relational ties; then this outlook is probably ideal.
For the individual that is very much part of the world, this way of life is unlikely to work. To be overly attached to things is going to create unnecessary pain and to have no attachments could lead to someone who lacks structure and who doesn’t allow themselves to get close to anyone. And to be this way is not going to be practical in today’s world.
To be overly attached to something is often a sign that one doesn’t trust that it will show up. Although one may be attached to getting something, if the trust is there, the attachment is minimal.
And when there is so much attachment to something, it can be very difficult to trust and to let go. While it can be normal to blame oneself for getting attached and even try to have no attachment; these approaches rarely work.
When one is experiencing emotional turmoil within, it is often inevitable that external things are going to be sought in order to regulate how one is feeling. And this can relate to all areas of one’s life.
Key areas are going to be relationships with: the opposite sex, colleagues, managers, friends and family members. There is also the potential for strong attachment when it comes to achieving certain milestones in one’s life or attaining important things such as a house or a car.
A Closer Look
The painful feelings that can come up in these areas and therefore lead to attachment are: rejection, abandonment, powerlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, shame, guilt, emptiness, worthlessness, fear and grief amongst other things.
And once they appear, one desires and wants external things as a way to remove the inner experience that is taking place. So while attachment can be deemed as the problem, if these feelings were not there, then the one is unlikely to become so attached in the first place.
When it comes to relationships and in finding a suitable partner, one can become attached to finding ‘the one’ or become extremely needy and attached to someone they have just met.
In the work environment, one can complete a task and then spend the rest of the week or month worrying about whether they have done it right. And as they can’t let go of the outcome, their whole life becomes consumed by what may or may not happen.
So while these are simply emotions and feelings, they have incredible power and influence over one’s life. How reality is experienced is often the result of how one feels and to the degree that one is attached to something or not, will also depend on how emotionally settled one is.
But while emotions and feelings can come and go, they can also become struck and end up being trapped in the body. And one of the consequences of having trapped emotions and feelings is that one can end up becoming inordinately attached to things.
These can relate to emotional experiences that have not been dealt with as an adult and that one had as a child. The mind can be cut off from the body and believe that what happened in the past no longer has any affect on one’s life. However, when the mind avoids emotions and feelings, the body can end up paying the price.
The mind can pretend they no longer exist and when this happens, the body will be forced to store them. This can be in ones muscles, organs, bones and skin.
Modern Day Triggers
Although these emotions and feelings are trapped in the body, they want to be released and let go. In a situation where one becomes overly attached to someone or something, these trapped emotions are coming to the surface and one can then end up believing that the external world is causing them to feel as they do.
But even though external sources can trigger these emotions and feelings, they often have nothing to do with what’s going on externally. If one reacts to these feelings, they are also giving away their power to external sources.
These feelings and emotions could be seen as parasites, as they can make one want and do things that do not reflect who they are. And as these feelings and emotions are released, one is unlikely to be as attached and what they are attached to can also change.
Because if one no longer feels a sense of shame, rejection or powerless for example, then their point of focus is inevitably going to change. Andy by being more at peace within, one can be who they are, instead of trying to be who they are not.
What one actually wants and needs can then show up, with less resistance and struggle. This process of releasing ones emotions and feelings can be done with the help of a therapist or healer.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.