Posted by Karen Hadalski at 12 July 2012

Category: Spirituality

One of the most serious impediments to spiritual centeredness and growth is attachment–to things, memories, ideas, habits, places, outcomes–even to relationships and beliefs.  This is not to say that you shouldn’t have or value any of these; but, to be “attached” is a totally different thing.  Attachment means to be tied or fastened to;  its antonym is, “to be free.”

Perhaps the three most detrimental attachments on my list are: things, memories, and habits.  Just think about how much time and effort materialists put into earning the money, or ingratiating themselves to others, in order to acquire all the things they think they need to surround themselves with in order to feel successful, secure, and good about themselves.  Then, how much more time and effort is wasted on keeping all that stuff clean, shiny, showcased, and in good running order. (And, of course, authentic, lasting feelings of security and self-worth can only be generated from within, anyway.)  Can you imagine the good that could be achieved if such a person exerted the same amount of energy, and spent even a fraction of the money it takes to acquire and maintain a lot of useless stuff, to selfless, philanthropic endeavors?

Attachment to memories of times long ago, people long gone, and events that occurred decades ago is another waste of time.  I have known people whose “reality” consisted of yellowed photographs, dog-eared letters, and sentimental reveries of a past that probably exists only in their imagination, instead of living, learning, growing, and contributing to the Present. It is easy to become stuck in the past when so much attention is focused upon it; and, as a result, to fritter away the most precious commodity available to us–TIME. The mantra:” BE Here Now ” could be a useful antidote to such wistfulness.

Habits, I’ve read, can even outlive one’s physical life and keep a departed soul earthbound in order to continue on with them.  Spiritual teachings frequently talk about “entities” which hover around people who indulge in their previous, earthly addictions–like smoking, drinking, gluttony, and specific sexual activities.  Their attachment to certain habits and sensations enjoyed when in embodiment continues to be so strong that these overshadow everything else–even the desire to ascend to higher, purer spiritual realms.  I guess this is why liquor stores advertise “Wine and Spirits” for sale!

Attachment to relationships which are no longer harmonious, uplifting, or compatible with one’s current  sensibilities, life goals, and values can go beyond deadening to become depressing and destructive.  This is especially true in certain adult child to parents, parents to adult child,  and dysfunctional marriage situations.  Clinging to such inappropriate relationships can almost always be traced to psychological dependencies, fear, laziness, or strict conformity to social expectations and an overwhelming desire to “look good” to others.

A tie to geography is yet another stultifying and, it seems to me, unnatural attachment.  We are born and raised where we are born and raised because our parents chose to live in that place.  Once we evolve into mature individuals, our unique interests, climate and cultural preferences, career, and independently formed friendships should naturally steer us to the most appropriate location for us to thrive in.

Finally, long-ago formed ideas, beliefs, and the desire for particular outcomes should be re-evaluated, discarded, updated, or replaced at regular intervals and when it feels natural for us to do so.  As my favorite essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, states:  “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  It is also unnatural to our growth and evolution.

Don’t be afraid to grow, move, learn, change, evolve. When you do, you become as a clear, lively, babbling brook.  When you don’t, you risk becoming like one of those still, stagnant, smelly puddles off to the side.


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