We all want to feel free and in the flow of life, but our attachments bind us and block energy in a way that ultimately causes us to suffer. The Yoga Sutras instruct that by practicing mindful presence and engaged non-attachment in every circumstance, we achieve ultimate happiness as a result. (This is The Wisdom of Non-Attachment.)

The following is an excerpt from my book, "True Yoga: Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness and Spiritual Fulfillment" (used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.), where I explore why practicing non-attachment is not always easy, but definitely worth the pay-off in inner peace.

Excerpt From 'True Yoga'

"Consider how when life is perfectly aligned, we try to hold tightly to the circumstances of that time, place, or person. We do not want anything to change because we finally feel so good. This is the state of attachment (raga). Yet life is constant change and everything material is temporary, so we if we are attached, then we suffer when it ends.

Similarly if we resist unpleasant circumstances in life, bemoaning why something is happening that we do not like, we suffer from the state of aversion (dvesa). The secret of happiness lies in non-attachment to anything changeable. We can enjoy sensory pleasures but remain free by carrying always a consciousness that extends beyond the material realm. Herein lies the difference between short lived satisfaction and the contentment and peace that withstand time and space.

By embracing life as a grand play we can see that, like actors on stage, we have choices. If we focus on what is wrong, we remain in constant discontent. If we identify with the Divine within, nothing can come between us and joy.

As we embody the yogic practice of santosha (contentment), we become less compelled to react, fix, analyze, change, or manipulate. We assess desires by whether they will take us closer to or farther from inner peace and contentment. We ask ourselves questions to determine if something is a transitory, or a lasting pleasure. Is it necessary? Is it for my highest good and the highest good of all beings? Will it bring me enduring happiness? If we determine it to be a good choice, then we can move forward while at the same time offering our enjoyment to the Divine.

Having a sense of humor helps us do this. And smiling even when we do not feel happy is a powerful way to bring ourselves back to a lighthearted, non-attached state of mind. Contentment is a dynamic attitude that calms the mind, establishing it firmly within the essence of our true nature rather than the constantly shifting outer environment.

By cultivating this mental well-being, we establish a foundation for genuine self-confidence and success in all our personal endeavors. Through our choice to be content and non-attached no matter what, we claim the power to be happy and free. And we become receptive to the Infinite moving into manifestation through us in ever changing form.

Daily Practice

Integrate an active practice of contentment into your daily life. Notice all the ways in which opinion or struggle arises and practice letting go of the constant quest for personal agenda. Open to learning through all that life brings.

  • If something is not to your liking, or you are feeling challenged in some way, practice smiling through your eyes. See something beautiful around you and beam a good thought that way. Notice how just the simple act of changing your vision begins to soften your resistance and bring you closer to contentment.
  • Start a daily gratitude practice. At dinner or on the drive to school or work, think of all the things that are good in your life.
  • Next time you are frustrated, hang in a forward bend and take ten deep, conscious breaths. Let attachment (raga) and aversion (dvesa) drain out. As you come up slowly, return with acceptance and contentment in your mind.
  • Notice when you feel ultra-reactive. How can practicing contentment diffuse reactivity?
  • How does your body feel when you are attached to something going your way? How does your body feel when you are open to whatever happens?
  • Consider how your thoughts make you feel upset or content. How could you choose peace and contentment in your thoughts about yourself and others? Write or say a few of your contented thoughts."

Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go...

With a little practice, you will start to feel a dramatic difference in a short period of time. Just remember, non-attachment equals peace of mind and freedom. (Read on in Practicing Aparigraha (Non-Attachment).)