Eight Ways to Practice Non-Attachment

Some of us write daily. Some of us write weekly. Some of us write occasionally. Some of us never write at all.

Some of us write in our journals for our own eyes only. Some of us post a blog here and there. Some of us write the words we have to share on Facebook and Twitter. Some of us are published authors.

This post isn’t about the writing that we do. This post is about all the writing that we DON’T do, even if we write with some consistency.

I’ve created a lot of content in the last year. At the very least I write our weekly motivational newsletter that comes out each Monday. I have written not less than 100 short stories in the last year. I just counted and found out I posted over 50 blogs in the last twelve months. I’ve written at least 25 speeches/presentations for our own work and I’ve recently started to write speeches for clients. A decent amount of additional writing has been done behind the scenes on larger projects that have yet to be revealed.

For all that writing that actually has been completed in the last year, I would venture to guess that there is at least twice as much that hasn’t even been started. You might guess that I would say the reason for that is lack of time. You’d be wrong. The reasons for not writing in my life are always the same pair of villains:

Fear and Attachment

Fear is most certainly the easier of the two villains to understand and unpack. Fear is a factor that stands in the path of so many of our potential successes. As it pertains to writing we struggle with fear of failure, fear that nobody will read what we write and fear that we will have to show the Universe (and our readers) our vulnerabilities. I have faced all of those fears and many others and quite frankly I think I’ve done a pretty good job of working through those fears.
The other villain is the one that stands in the way each time I don’t go the keyboard with an idea. That villain is attachment. To me a good writing session is like surfing. You have to take the waves that the water gives you. You can’t create sets that don’t exist. The times that I struggle most with my writings are the times when I am attached to a particular topic, a particular story, a particular outcome, or a particular project. It’s like wanting to surf on big waves when the tide is low. It’s just not going to happen.

Every once in a while I can let go of the desire to have any particular outcome and just sit at the keyboard and allow. Those are the times that all the magic happens!

images-2Last week I served as moderator for my once a month men’s circle. Our topic for the month was non-attachment. While I was writing the content for the call I came up with a list of eight things to consider when trying to be less attached to the outcomes as the stories of your life unfold. It’s not like I invented any of these ideas; they are the product of years spent reading and learning from other talented writers and gifted thinkers who are my mentors. Why eight? Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe it’s because the number eight is the infinity symbol standing straight up. Either way I like it! Here they are:

#1 – Just One Thing

One does not move from a state of attachment to Zen Buddhist master in one afternoon. Be content to select one thing in your day that you can be less attached to and enjoy the results. Perhaps take a drive with no particular destination and get lost. The GPS on your phone will help you get home from anywhere on the planet. If you are a sports fan, try to watch a sporting event for the pure joy of the event with no attachment to the result. If you are a writer, perhaps post something and then never go back to see how many views or likes you got.

#2 – Just for Right Now

Like all things in life, practicing non-attachment is not an all or nothing proposition. If you can do a better job of being less attached in a moment in time, you will be more fully invested in that moment even if the attachments creep back in later. For example in my week, I try to have at least one 30 minute writing jam session where I sit with an untitled blog and write whatever comes into my head. Sometimes the result is gibberish and sometimes genius. It doesn’t matter.

#3 – Take Small Steps

Speaking about mentors, one of mine is Mike Dooley, the author of Infinite Possibilities. Mike frequently talks about the concept of baby steps. When we are attached to a particular outcome we often get stalled at the starting line and take no steps at all. When in doubt just take small steps. When we are comfortable moving with the current of life, it is more likely to carry us to where we need to be. As Mike says, “You don’t raise your sails to move the boat, but rather to put yourself within reach of the wind.”

#4 – Forget about the Numbers

Too often we measure our success or failure by numbers. If you are in sales you likely have a quota. If you work as a server you make a percentage of your sales in tips. At the beginning of this blog I told you about how many things I had written by giving you numbers as if more was better. It is when we become less attached to the measure of our success by numbers that we have a better chance of living in a place of contentment in the moment. Have you ever written something that you totally loved and then posted it to find out almost nobody noticed? Was the work less significant to you because only 3 people “liked” it instead of hundred? So forget about the numbers!

#5 – Stay True to Your Intentions

I have been asked a number of times whether or not the concept of non-attachment is at odds with goal setting and making intentions. Absolutely not! It is essential to create actionable/specific goals in your life. It is valuable to set intentions about vibrations you wish to feel in your life. It is critical that you visualize the outcomes that you desire to see in your life. Here’s the secret though. Just don’t attach to the idea that the only path to bliss is one specific path. If you live in a place where you accept that everything is always the way it is supposed to be there is much more contentment. And speaking of that…

#6 – Focus on Contentment

We often attach to the things in our lives that we think will bring us contentment. We are convinced that a specific group of friends will fill our lives with excitement and joy. We believe that a certain person can be The One that fills our heart with love. We seek material possessions that will provide immediate gratification for our physical senses. While there is a possibility that any of these things might lead us to a moment of contentment there is certainly no guarantee of its lasting effect. In fact, many times the “shine” wears off the object and we are left still seeking. I say why not just focus on the end result? Focus on living in a state of constant contentment.

#7 – Let go of the “HOW” and find the “WHY”

Nearly all teachers who talk about self-empowerment at some point address the topic of releasing from the HOW. When we attach to how things must happen we block all the other possible paths and all the other magic that might occur on those paths. As a counter to attaching to the how, take a moment and define your WHY. I learned this from Michael Hyatt, best selling author of the book Platform. One of the things on my vision board is to have a book published. At first I was specific about having a particular book with a specific title and that it had to be published by Hay House. I have long felt that I needed a book to advance my speaking career. When I let go of my attachment to those specifics and defined my WHY as wanting to grow my speaking career, I realized that it was happening even without a published book. Forget the how and find your why!

#8 – Surrender to Spirit

If you are seeking a life path with less attachment it can be of great value to develop some kind of spiritual practice. What does the word spiritual mean to you? Some people will tie the word spirituality to the idea of religion. Others will point to the connection between our human world and the spirit world on the other side of the veil. In my men’s circle this past week I interviewed a teacher named Traveler and his definition of spirituality is one of the best I have ever seen. Traveler says, “My experience has shown me that my true spirituality is a highly personal, dynamic, and individual relationship between me and the Universe in which I exist. A part of that path I walk with others but the rest is mine to walk alone.”

In my life things like martial arts, meditation, bonsai cultivation and even kite flying have transcended to the level of personal spiritual practices. While your spiritual path certainly can be religion, it doesn’t need to be religion to be spiritual. It doesn’t matter which path you travel on, but find a path that awakens your higher self.

My Path to this Post

Ever since the men’s forum last Wednesday I have wanted to put together a blog about this topic. On a few occasions I almost sat down at the computer and started the process but something always seemed to steer me in another direction. I began to think that maybe it wasn’t to be: that maybe I wasn’t ready to write about this topic. Then I woke up on Sunday morning to go for my morning bike ride and discovered that there was a sheet of ice on the bike path from a morning sleet storm. Clearly I was not going to ride my bike in those conditions so I looked at my to do list for the day and saw that I had one of my 30 minute writing jam sessions on the list. I made a cup of tea, sat down at my computer, I opened up my blog site and created an un-titled blog, and then I started to write with no topic or destination in mind. When I finally released from my attachment to write a post about non-attachment, the Universe sent me the perfect set of waves to carry me in the current of my own magical life.

What a great morning to go with the the flow and enjoy the ride, in a Universe of infinite possibilities I say, “Surf’s up!”


About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at www.emergingintojoy.com for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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