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Non-Attachment and the Holidays

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Holiday Child

Find the holidays challenging? It could be expectations that cause our disappointment and stress. To find that inner peace we seek, try non-attachment throughout the season.

We have officially entered “the holiday season” here in the United States. When I was a kid, I was so excited about the holidays. Growing up celebrating Christmas, I had a lot of expectations about Santa, presents, beautiful decorations, great food, and fun, fun, fun! It didn’t always turn out the way I expected, though.

Expectations Lead to Disappointment

As adults, we may have expectations of this time of year, too. Maybe we want to have quality time with friends, to be able to travel (for pleasure or to see family), or to create the perfect holiday experience for our children. Once again, our expectations may not always pan out. That can lead us to feeling disappointed and down.

That’s where Non-Attachment – known as Vairagya in yoga philosophy – is very helpful. We can intend things to go well, but let go of our attachment to the results. It’s not a cold attitude, like indifference, but rather it’s an openness to outcome that arises from an open and trusting heart.

Open to Outcomes

Non-attachment allows us to appreciate what is here, rather than continue to seek what isn’t. If our happiness is always over there rather than where we are, we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy what life already offers us. What can you appreciate about this season? Colorful lights, smiles on children’s faces, the smell of pine trees or something delicious cooking? Find things that you can enjoy with how it is, and release your attachment to what appears to be missing.

It’s possible to enjoy a holiday gathering just as it is, and release our expectation that it be a certain way. We can receive a gift graciously, appreciating the intent even if it’s not what we hoped for. This doesn’t mean we pretend to like something that may be unpleasant, but that we let go of needing things our way in order to be content. Be open to outcome, and perhaps you’ll find happiness in the unexpected.

Non-Attachment to How We Feel

Not only can we practice non-attachment to outcomes; we can practice non-attachment to how we feel. Non-attachment does not judge. We might put pressure on ourselves to feel happy and enthusiastic about parties, family gatherings, or holiday shopping. Our feelings are valid and real. Sometimes, we may be triggered by these events and need to stay home and practice self-care. Non-attachment allows us to accept ourselves, too, for however we feel, and respond to our emotions open-heartedly.

Try practicing non-attachment this season. Open your heart, release expectations and judgment, appreciate what you have, and be open to outcome. See if it reduces some of the stress of the season and brings more contentment and inner peace.

Feel free to share here your holiday challenges, and what you are practicing non-attachment with. 🙏

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