Shrove Tuesday - the day before Ash Wednesday, though named for its former religious significance, is chiefly marked by feasting and celebration, which traditionally preceded the observance of the Lenten fast.
The giving up of something for 40 days, nowadays most people tend to give up an unhealthy habit or a favourite food/ drink. Practicing abstinence from their cravings/ desires, but also exercising non-attachment, developing the mental strength to give something up and not be reliant upon it, gaining control over your mind and your emotional responses towards it, which in turn will help us to let go of emotions that cause us stress and emotional anxiety too, so the profound effects of giving something up for even 40 days run deeper than just the physical benefits that most people hope to gain.
While non-attachment or detachment is radically misunderstood by many, non-attachment actually brings about the most profound sense of care, compassion, and freedom you could ever imagine.
What Does Non-Attachment Really Mean?
Non-attachment doesn’t mean being cold as a stone. Emotions don’t cease to exist as you learn to let go. You just relate to them differently because you understand their ephemeral nature, and that, thank goodness, means there's a lot less to get upset about.
For example, even very spiritually aware people:
They may have moments when impatience or frustration arise too, they're ultra human, and not indifferent in the least.
But the key difference here is that they don’t entangle themselves in these emotional states by firing up aversion for the “negative” or wanting to extend the “positive.” They allow emotions to rise and dissolve. They don't feed emotions, fuel drama, or express distress by engaging in knock-on negative behaviours, they have perspective.
This takes considerable practice, but everyone has the power to tame their mind through cultivating mindfulness and awareness.
The Beauty of Non-Attachment
When you understand the true meaning of non-attachment:
Expectations no longer rule your life.
Emotions arise, but you have space, you have perspective, emotions don’t grip and torment you every time.
You relate to the world as it is rather than to your concepts about it, which never bring lasting happiness.
You have clarity of mind so you’re able to see through to the truth of things.
You’re not bothered by much, but that doesn't mean you tolerate harmful behaviour.
The problems of this world evoke compassion rather than anger.
You don’t chase after happiness, you just enjoy it when it’s present, and release it when it dissolves.
You're able to allow life to unfold without needing to control everything.
You don't stop loving, you love even more.
Your heart only grows bigger and bigger when you see all the unnecessary suffering in this world.
You feel naturally compelled to help, but you’re not attached to the outcome.
The sense of spaciousness and freedom you feel brings a genuine contentment that can never be found in temporary experiences.
You are free because you're in charge of your mind and emotions instead of them bossing you around, and, with this freedom, you can taste the distinct flavour of every experience with no need to squeeze it tightly to your chest.
It becomes a paradox almost, with non-attachment you let go of outcomes, and become less reactive to things that happen, but at the same time you become more connected to everyone in the world.