Non-Attachment: How to Stop Your Possessions from Controlling You

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Do you like yoga? If you’ve ever attended a yoga course that went beyond the physical aspects of the practice, you probably encounter the term vairagya.

It means detachment from materialistic life.  The term does not indicate the volume of our possessions. It rather indicates our attitude towards the things we possess.

No; you don’t have to be into yoga to be interested about non-attachment. It’s a concept that can help any of us live a more fulfilled life. It can literally save a businessman’s life.

Let’s take a practical example, so we’ll understand what non-attachment means.

What Does It Mean to Be Attached, Anyway?

You get into business and it goes well, so you get your first supercar. Can any of you new business owners relate to that dream? Who doesn’t want a great car? Hey; it’s not a crime to get it.

So you get this great car, but you start worrying too much about it.

You watch where you park, so other drivers won’t scratch it. When you park it and you go for a lunch in the restaurant, you’re constantly worried.

What if someone damaged it? You don’t want to allow other people to wash it, since they may use the wrong product and ruin it. You don’t want to drive it in the rain because you want to keep it sparkling clean all the time. You no longer take your dog anywhere. There’s no place for a smelly dog in your new car.

The car started controlling your life. Instead of enjoying it, you’re a slave to it.

It’s the kind of attachment you want to let go of.

You can still own that car and take perfectly good care of it, but your attitude towards it will change.

The only question is: how do you reach the point of non-attachment?

Tips to Help You Let Go of Your Attachment to Material Things

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1. Understand the Illusion of Security

People get attached to material things because they provide the false feeling of security.

You don’t want to live out in the open because that might be dangerous. That’s why you get so attached to the walls you build around yourself.

But you know what? The sense of security you get is absolutely false.

You’ll break the pattern through a simple method: just go out in nature. You do not need anything. Take some healthy snacks, dress comfortably and go out in the mountain.

Hike. Breathe. Camp out. Feel the nature!

Yes; it could get dangerous. But a dangerous hurricane would also damage the house you cherish so much.

Instead of relying on material things to protect yourself from nature, start cherishing it. Recreate the bond that’s already there.

2. Focus on Function Instead of Form

What function does a supercar have? Of course, it’s more powerful than a normal vehicle. But will it serve the same purpose a cheaper car would?

Essentially, the purpose is the same. The more expensive car only gets you more attached.

When you’re thinking about buying something new, this is the question you need to ask: do I need it?

Do I need these new, highly expensive shoes? If I really need shoes, do I need those shoes? Could I live without them?

Why don’t I just try? I’ll delay the shopping experience for a bit and experience life without those shoes. I bet it will be just as comfortable as ever.

Money buys you nice things. But you buy most of the pretty things because you focus on their form instead of function. It’s time to go back to your basic needs.

If you can live with minimum possessions, you’re not allowing them to chain you in materialism.

3. Connect with Communities Affected by Poverty

Jane Keats, marketing expert for CareersBooster, shares her own experience: “I’m guilty of being a material girl. Armani bags, Louboutin shoes, Marchesa dresses… I’ve had it all. And the more I bought, the more I “needed” to buy. It’s a vicious circle and you can’t see that it’s bad when you’re in the center. And then I went to Uganda. This was an experience completely different from the retreats that I used to book. It was reality. It brought me back to understanding the true meaning of life, and it’s not in possessions. It’s in being useful. So that’s where I’m focusing my energy from then on. Instead of buying new things, I use the extra money to help others.”

You want a reality hit?

Stop seeing poverty-affected communities through Facebook videos only. Yes; the videos are powerful and they make your eyes all watery. But they don’t get you in touch with reality.

To get a sense of poverty, you have to really connect with people who have no possessions.

At the bottom of it, we are all the same. But the fact that they have no material things to attach to keeps them simple.

They know how to appreciate the small things in life and they will be grateful just for seeing you. Those are the things you lost when you got attached to the things you were buying. Simplicity. Essential humanity. These people will have a valuable lesson to teach you.   

4. Stay Conscious!

The only way for you to let go of attachment is to make continuous, conscious efforts to beat that inclination.

In yogic texts, there’s a term for consistency: abhyasa. It means staying disciplined and consistently focused on a particular practice.

In this sense, you’ll be focused on letting go and you’ll remind yourself about that goal whenever you get the instinct to buy yourself something expensive.  

About The Author

Eugene Eaton is an Australian-based blogger for CareersBooster, who is into stand-up comedy. His favorite comedians are Louis CK and George Carlin. A good morning laugh is what keeps Eugene upbeat and motivated through the harsh day.

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