TOBY MIZZI, COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGIST, STRONG MINDS PSYCHOLOGY
In time, it is likely that I will finish this series of blogs with the aim of writing about a different topic instead. While there is much more to discuss in terms of mindfulness, the aim with these blogs was to give you a small introduction into what mindfulness is (and isn’t) and some of the ways we can practice it both informally and formally. Ultimately, the hope is that you think a bit more about how you can connect more meaningfully with your moment to moment experiences.
A related concept to mindfulness that I wanted to discuss today was nonattachment. Nonattachment refers to our capacity to let go of our attachment to thoughts, feelings, ideas, expectations, beliefs, opinions and so on. Nonattachment does not mean being cold and not experiencing these things. It instead means that we build an awareness of these things without attaching to them. We have, in ways, discussed this in previous blogs as mindfulness encourages you to be aware of your thoughts and feelings and allowing them to be. With nonattachment, there is less effort to try and make ‘positive’ feelings stick around or make ‘negative’ feelings disappear. There is instead effort to make room for all feelings (or thoughts) even if they are difficult in some way. One way of thinking about it is that mindfulness represents our awareness of an idea/thought whereas our attitude towards that idea/thought represents the level of attachment to it.
There are many examples in daily life where our attachments only contribute to suffering. We are often quite attached to our ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. In fact, it could be argued that it is our attachment to certain thoughts that contributes to our distress. If, for example, we are attached to a certain outcome/expectation and it doesn’t occur, we may be more likely to experience emotional difficulty due to our strong attachment to that outcome. Nonattachment encourages us to just notice these thoughts and allow them to come and go. And even when they do contribute to a certain feeling, we can still allow that feeling to just come and go.
For this week, I invite you to think about your own attachments to thoughts. Remember, a thought can be an idea, belief, attitude, or expectation. Are there certain thoughts that you attach strongly too? You might think about particular attitudes or beliefs you hold quite strongly. What happens when you are confronted with information that is contrary to your belief? Keep in mind, there is certainly nothing wrong with having an idea, thought, belief, opinion and so on. However, it is worthwhile thinking about your level of attachment to those thoughts.
About the Author:
Toby shares his time between the Strong Minds Psychology team, Swinburne University, and his young family. He is passionate about providing individualised support, and empowering people to enhance their mental health. Toby provides counselling and therapy for children, adolescents, adults and couples – helping with depression, anxiety, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, grief & loss, and family conflict. Mindful Mondays will be a regular blog on our website and Facebook page.
If you would like to discuss how the Strong Minds Psychology team can support your mental health needs call us on 0417 389 941 or send an email to email@example.com