One thing we are learning from Covid, is that we can get used to living in radically different ways very quickly.
People all over the world are suddenly finding their lives completely changed. Simple pleasures and daily routines have been disrupted, leaving many of us to contemplate new choices and reassess patterns that now seem unnecessary.
With all this new space suddenly created - observing our attachments and desires has become a simple task.
A visit to your favourite cafe, walking on the beach, catching up with friends - how much did we rely on these things to fill us with a sense of happiness and purpose? And what happens to our equilibrium when they get taken away?
In Yoga, non-attachment is understood as one of the central pillars in practice.
We all - to some degree - rely on things external to form some part of our identity. Whatever it may be - a sense of place, people we surround ourselves with, activities, sports etc, We engage in the outer world and let it form our ideas of who we are. We become a player in our own story, and act to fulfill others expectations of us. But where does our sense of self lie, when various parts are taken away? Should we not be able to form our own identity without relying on the external and transient?
To practice non-attachment doesn’t mean we have to let go of worldly possessions, say goodbye to loved ones and live in a cave. It is a simple process of self inquiry, understanding we already have everything we need inside - and not having to rely on anything to feel safe, happy or fulfilled.
Now this is not to say we can’t enjoy the pleasures that life brings. In fact the opposite is just so. Non-attachment means enjoying everything in life to its fullest. It means embracing every moment without a longing for it to last or desire for it to pass. It is to appreciate all things for the time they serve you, and to let go when the time comes. When we are not dependent on something, without the fear of losing it, we can enjoy it in our fullest capacity - completely present. To rely on something, or to ‘need it’ to feel good, indicates an unbalance.
The aim of non-attachment is to ride the waves of life without being thrown off center, it is the freedom to let things come and go as they will. Just as we can enjoy the highs, we must also embrace the lows.
As Covid has shown, many of the simplest things we took for granted can be removed at a moment's notice. How much should we rely on something that we cannot provide ourselves, to feel a simple sense of happiness?
- By Nick Ziegler