Many spiritual traditions highlight non-attachment as an essential aspect of the spiritual path to higher consciousness. This whole idea has not sat comfortably with me for a lot of the time I’ve been looking at it and I’ve found it something that was just a bit too far off for me to grasp. If I am channeling all my energies into something and working tirelessly toward a specific goal, how can I not be attached to the end result?
I think my journey into greater understanding of this concept began in many ways with reading perhaps the most valuable book I’ve read thus far, The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer. This book is extremely accessible and does an excellent job of making the practice of living with less attachment and more trust completely approachable. There’s one line that I think of and quote all the time – “take your hands off the steering wheel of life”. Let go of the need to control outcomes. And it has become apparent to me that we all have aspects of our lives where this is really really hard to do. And others where its significantly easier. It seems we all have those trigger points – the things in our lives that really get us and that we are very invested in turning out a specific way. And here’s the beauty of it – that is always, but always the signal that that is precisely where your work lies. That which you are most invested in and perhaps triggered by is precisely where you need to let go. This is where the practice lies – of taking your hands off the steering wheel of life.
Does taking your hands off the steering wheel of life mean you don’t care? This was always my confusion around non-attachment that had me caught up for so long. No it doesn’t mean you don’t care. It means you care so much that you trust. You let go into trust that what will happen will be in the best interests of all concerned irrespective of what your agenda might be. We don’t often see initially that what played out was for the best … but how many times have you reflected back and realized that in the end what happened was optimal? Or perhaps you’ve accepted with hindsight events that transpired after fiercely resisting them for so long. And then perhaps there are those things we are still plagued by and could use looking at a bit more deeply and from different perspectives to see why they turned out the way they did and what the lesson was there? What were your motivations? What was driving you? How honest can you be with yourself??
In my yoga classes and practice we always begin by offering up the fruits of our efforts in some way, shifting the emphasis toward service. I have found over the years the more I orient myself in this way, the more my life opens up and my endeavours are more successful. Here’s the rub: I’m not focused on being successful – I’m not even thinking about it – I’m just giving my all to what I’m doing, what I’m putting out there and doing the best job I can with no thought toward any end result or gain. How can I serve the people I encounter today to leave them feeling better – healthier, happier and free-er? When you approach things in this way you receive so much more but you can’t be motivated by that at all or even thinking about it cause the energy is all confused and wrong and it doesn’t work plain and simple. You have to be authentic, sincere and altruistic in what you’re doing. Period. And it is then that you do your best work. Its totally amazing and crazy fun and you will find you are riding a current of inspiration and truth that is wildly energizing.
These two ideas are connected. If we are coming more from a place of service then we are free-ing ourselves from the fruits of our efforts ~ after all, we are giving them away. It is a big step toward taking your hands off the steering wheel. Another author I’ve received a tremendous amount from is Swami Chetanananda. He speaks often about the whole notion of “whats in it for me?” that drives so much of human thought and activity. When we begin to reverse this tendency and not let it be the driving force of so much of what we do we are getting closer to the subject of one of Chetananandas landmark works – becoming the hero of your own life.
The fact is that when you begin to taste the possibility of taking your hands off the steering wheel as well as shifting your motivation from “what’s in it for me?” to “how can I serve?” you are on your way to liberating yourself in this lifetime and significantly raising your vibration, energies and consciousness. Once you’ve begun, with continued focus you can gain momentum, and keep spinning the work higher and raising the bar one thought, one action, and one day at a time. And you will be progressively more fulfilled, content and happier more of the time as a result.
I have experienced these forces at work in my own life and witness them working in the lives of countless others on a daily basis through my work as a yoga instructor and health coach. It is a crazy privilege to support others on their journey toward greater health, happiness and liberation from the inside out and one that I am incredibly grateful for. If I can be of service to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email here. The pleasure would be all mine J