Attachment is when we are drawn to something or someone and do not want to let go. People become attached to other people, to property, to ideals, to circumstances and so on.
Attachment has hooks
Attachment is as though the mind extends tentacles or feelers into people, things or circumstances that it wants to acquire or retain. The mind builds up different concepts or pictures about them and sinks hooks into them. Obvious examples are the many forms of possessiveness or desire. But attachment can also be holding on to a state of affairs. People often resist change because they are unwittingly attached to the present. There is a fear of losing the familiar rather than because change is necessarily bad in itself.
Some forms of attachment can be very apparent, such as in the case of an addiction. Others – a desire to maintain control, for example – may be less obvious yet equally strong.
Does it matter?
Yes – it matters because whatever form attachment takes, it results in mental constriction or tension. In terms of energy, which governs our subtle responses, we are tighter and less able to love. Attachment can seriously damage our peace of mind and our wellbeing.
The heart energy centre is sometimes described as a lotus, whose petals open as we express love more and more. Those same petals shrink into a tight bud when we succumb to the strictures of attachment. Even if we take good care of our body and our appearance, if our heart is closed, we are less than a complete human being. Rather like those fancy roses from the bargain florist that never open fully nor have any fragrance, everything might appear good from the outside. But inside, mental and emotional tension results in a distorted view of the world and everyone in it.
Am I in love or suffering from attachment?
Attachment is often falsely labelled as love, particularly in relationships. Mentally and emotionally we are drawn towards and hold onto the other person. Usually without realising it, we seek to fulfil our needs from the other person or from the relationship. There may be love present in the relationship but there is attachment too.
If another person turns away from us or prefers another person over us and we feel rejected or perhaps feel some pang of jealousy, it is certain that some attachment is present in us. Similarly, if we fear losing someone close to us, we can be sure we are attached to them.
This sounds bad – what can I do?
Letting go and simply loving – without complication, expectation or attachment – is key.
This isn’t easy; in fact it is extremely difficult to do it completely, but gradually, very gradually, we can work towards it. Each step sets us free a little more. The freedom that results isn’t freedom from anything outside us, but freedom from our own mental creations. We created our own attachments and so have the power to dissolve them.
To unearth and release all our attachments may be a lifetime’s work. But as soon as we start the process, no matter at what point in life we are, we begin to feel easier with ourselves. We become happier. Wherever we are now is the starting point. That’s today, then.
Love simply. Let go.
Adapted extract from the book Awakening Heart