If we think about this a little more, we might recognize that we are often so attached to moments behind us or ahead of us, that we lose sight of the moment we are in. Most people can relate to being caught up in rumination over something that occurred yesterday, last month, or last year. We form an attachment to this memory—be it a good one or a bad one. We let it creep in and disrupt our present moment’s contentment and peace without even realizing it.
This same interruption of the present occurs when we become attached to future moments. While daydreaming, future aspirations, goal setting and planning are all positive—when we focus too much energy on moments ahead of us, we might start to feel anxious, antsy, depressed, unsettled or any of the above.
Practicing aparigraha and non-attachment allows us to rid ourselves (at least temporarily) of the pull within us to live in moments outside of the present. We recognize that attaching ourselves to thoughts of the past or future does nothing to serve us in the present moment.
With Valentine’s Day approaching next month, consider, as an example of this practice, how non-attachment to the past or future might positively impact your relationship.
Often times we hear couples speak of the ‘early days’ in the relationship—when the partner was more considerate, attentive, exciting, etc. Maybe this is something you experience when you think about the progression of your own relationship. But how often does this ‘past attachment’ serve us and make our relationship more whole? Feeling attachment to the past forces us to compare our partner and our relationship to mere memories of a different time. It sets an expectation for behavior that might be difficult to maintain after the novelty of a new love has worn off. Even further, as humans, we are growing and changing every day. Living in the memories of your partner from earlier days prevents you from recognizing and appreciating the person in front of you.
This is only one example of how rumination and attachment to the past might be impacting our relationships. The other, more obvious, example is when we become attached to actions of the past that might have hurt us. Even when we have ‘moved on’ from these actions, arguments, etc. we might still be feeling a sense of attachment to the memory. By choosing to let something go in our relationship—we are choosing to practice non-attachment to that memory. We are choosing to become more present oriented.
When we think about attachment to the future in the context of our romantic lives—we might realize the incredible expectations we put on ourselves, our partners and our relationships. Maybe when we think to the future and allow ourselves to live there in our minds, we become attached to the idea of having more money, a bigger house, well-behaved children, or a partner who works less (or more). We might even be placing negative expectations on the relationship without realizing it. Maybe when we think to the future we are expecting to feel disappointed or hurt by our partner—we are expecting to feel let down. Maybe we are waiting for the moment when the relationship falls apart. Any of this future thinking puts unnecessary pressure on the present moment and robs us, yet again, of the contentment and peace we can experience if we take life one present moment at a time.
So think about aparigraha over these next few weeks leading up to the holiday of love. Consider how this concept of non-attachment might serve you in enhancing the connection in your relationship.