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Attachments and letting go

Today, I want to deal with the most difficult shadow that we should release when walking the circles at the Vortex de Riambel: ATTACHMENTS. The word attachment deserves a precise definition in the same way as I have defined the other shadows before. We can be attached to people or other living beings and the majority of us are. We can be attached to things, whether it is money, our house, nice clothes or something else. Or, we are attached to a belief system. For example, some of us are attached to being a family person, whereas others prefer to be fiercely independent. The above-mentioned attachments are self-explanatory.

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However, it is less obvious what exactly is implied by the term attachments mentioned at the signpost of the Vortex de Riambel. Does the signpost refer to any form of attachment? I do not have a ready answer. Maybe, we should release only all unhealthy attachments. Thus it is absolutely fine if we are attached to our children and cherish them. We all love our children and enjoy spending time with them. In the same way, it is healthy to have an attachment to our parents and spouses. We have a soft spot for our friends and may also have a special relationship to the house we live in. Some of us are attached to our jobs or hobbies – either as a necessity or sometimes as a calling. All these attachments seem predominantly healthy and I doubt that any faith or religion has anything against those attachments in general.

But where do attachments become unhealthy and what can we do to turn them into something positive again? Many of us are parents. It is our duty to send our children into the world so that they can experience their own adventures, make their own mistakes and grow as humans. I am a firm believer of sending our children down their own path. Maybe it is because I left my parent’s house at eighteen for my studies.

As parents, we should understand that sooner or later we have to push our children out into the world so that they can write their own life story. Until that day comes, we can only provide them with a variety of experiences so that they grow up to become responsible citizens of this world. Our door should always be open for them but we should also vow to make sure that their lives are not entangled with ours for too long once they are adults. If possible, we should provide our children with the opportunities and experiences that we can afford. Our home should be a safe place for them when they need it, but not a permanent institution where they receive the care and attention that they may crave beyond their childhood and teenage years.

We should not cook, wash or clean for our children regularly beyond their late teens or early twenties because they will become too comfortable to manage entirely on their own. We should want them to make their own mistakes, have their own victories and defeats, and build a life apart from us. Of course, there are circumstances where this is not possible – either because of financial constraints, disabilities, etc. But if this happens only for convenience, and not from absolute necessity, I am against children disturbing our lives until we are old. And if we have not found our own little happiness without our children once they are grown up, it is entirely our fault. They are not our possession nor our prisoners, and we are not their slaves.

The opposite of attachment is detachment or as written at the signpost of the Vortex de Riambel: LETTING GO. This is a state in which a person overcomes their attachments to desire for things, people or concepts of this world, and thus attains a heightened perspective. It means that we release our desire to possess certain things, be with certain people or follow certain concepts during our lifetime. We just remain in a state of existence in the here and now, without any expectations about what the future holds.

Releasing unhealthy attachments and letting go is not easy. We all can think of various unhealthy attachments. Some of us are greedy and attached too much to money. Others are resentful and attached to the thought that they need to hate a specific person or a group of people. Many people are attached to the attention they receive from other people, whether it is through social media, changing romantic partners regularly or attention in the work place. More than a few people are attached to alcohol or other forms of legal or illegal drugs.

Everything that we do excessively can form an attachment – whether extensive fitness regimes, certain types of foods or beverages, or more generally any excessive practice of anything or craving for something. In short, everyone and everything without which we think we cannot exist beyond our basic physical, mental and spiritual needs, may lead to an unhealthy attachment. The Bible defines the seven deadly sins as lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. We need to let go of those attachments, otherwise we may lose focus of what is truly important in our lives. Without unhealthy attachments, we will more likely maintain faith in the good, remain hopeful for our future, and have the strength to embrace love as the strongest of all forces, even if circumstances are dire. So I will conclude this series of articles with an appeal to my readers: have faith, hope and love and never lose these three virtues.

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