Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Attachments Are Not Set in Stone

--by Robina Courtin (Jun 26, 2017)

Attachment is such a simple word, but it’s multi-faceted. At the most fundamental level it’s that feeling of neediness deep inside us; that belief that somehow I am not enough, I don’t have enough, and no matter what I do or what I get, it’s never enough. Then, of course, because we’re so convinced it’s true, we hanker after someone out there, and when we find the one who triggers our good feelings, we attach ourselves to getting them, convinced they’re the one who will fulfill our needs and make us truly happy and content. We assume they’re our possession, and almost an extension of who we are.

This attachment is the source of all our other unhappy emotions. Because it’s desperate to get what it wants, the minute it doesn’t – the moment he doesn’t ring, or comes home late, or looks at someone else – panic arises and immediately turns to anger and then jealousy or low-self esteem, or whatever our old habits are. In fact, anger is the response when attachment doesn’t get what it wants. All these assumptions are ingrained so deeply within us, and we believe these stories so totally, it seems ridiculous to even question them. But we need to. And the only way we can do that is by knowing our own minds and feelings: in other words, we need to learn how to be our own therapists.

The fact is attachment, anger, jealousy and any other painful emotion are not set in stone; they’re old habits, and we know we can change those. The first step is to be confident that by
knowing our own minds well we can learn to distinguish the various emotions inside us and gradually learn to change them. The first challenge involves truly believing you can accomplish this. And that alone is huge – without it, we’re stuck.

The next stage is to step back from all the endless chatter in our heads. A really simple way to do that – it’s so basic it’s boring! – is for just a few minutes every morning, before we start our day, to sit down and focus on something. The breath is a good start. It’s nothing special; there’s no trick to it; it’s not mystical. It’s a practical psychological technique. With determination you can decide to pay attention to the breath – the sensation at your nostrils as you breathe in and out. The moment your mind wanders, bring your focus back to the breath. The goal is not to make the thoughts go away; but to not get involved in them, and learn to let them come and go.

The long-term result of a technique like this is a super-focused mind, and that’ll take time. But the almost immediate benefit will be that, as we attempt to step back from all the stories in our head, we will begin to be objective about them and slowly start to unravel, deconstruct, and eventually change them. It’s said one of the signs of success is thinking we're getting worse! But we're not. We're starting to hear the stories more clearly, and it’s then that we can begin to change them.

Australian-born Tibetan Buddhist nun Robina Courtin travels the world teaching Buddhist psychology and philosophy and helping those in need. Well known for her work for 14 years with people in prisons in the US and Australia, including inmates on death row, Robina’s life and work is the subject of Amiel Courtin Wilson’s award-winning film Chasing Buddha.

Add Your Reflection:

Send me an email when another comment is posted on this passage.
Name: Email:

Previous Reflections:

On Jun 23, 2017 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

 This resonates so much: 1. I am on the morn of embarking on sharing We Become the Stories We Tell both in the US and Canada: the idea is we become the stories we tell ourselves, we create our own narrative. And as you say this narrative (or attachment) is not set in stone. We can change the narrative at any time in many ways. We can change our own role in the story we've created. We can choose to begin a new chapter, make a new choice or decision. We can become aware of the roles we put ourselves and others in and change those too (or at least our attachment or view of them.) :)  I have gone through the process of changing my own life story several times. First time back when I was 13. I had been bullied terribly at school, back then, teachers didn't help you, guidance counselors told us it was "our fault." But summer of turning 13, I decided I wanted a new role, not the one being bullied anymore so I auditioned for a play and it turned out I was quite good at it. Theatre gave me confidence and it changed the way I carried myself. The bullying didn't stop completely, but my reaction did. I brushed it off, laughed more easily at it and walked away. It worked. Fast forward to today. I still have negative self talk in my head: I now have a tattoo on my right wrist which says "enough" it is to reframe the story of "Not enough" Every time I glance at my wrist I am reminded, I am enough just as I am. And you are too. Thank you for the perfect post as I head out on my adventure. 

On Jun 24, 2017 david doane wrote:

 "Set in stone" means unchangeable.  Nothing is unchangeable or permanent, including our attachments.  As a child I learned a lot that I thought was the truth, set in stone, that I was very attached to.  It was in my twenties that I began to consider other viewpoints, began to question and detach from old 'truths' and began to attach to new 'truths.'  And the process goes on.  I've come to believe that attachments are unhealthy and the source of unnecessary pain, and as far as I know, my present attachments are not set in stone -- they are more like stepping stones, and they and I are evolving.  I don't have any set in stone attachments.  As for therapy, therapy means to heal.  Actually no one can heal me but me, and in that sense I am my own therapist -- others can facilitate, and such persons are therapists for me.  I suppose the person who has no one but himself or herself as therapist has a fool for a patient.  My own psychotherapy helps me be my own therapist.  Various people and experiences in my life are therapeutic for me and help me be my own therapist.  Now I can allow many people to be therapeutic for me, usually without their even knowing, and that capacity helps me be my own therapist.

On Jun 25, 2017 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 We as human beings have physical, mental and spiritual needs and desires. Most of our needs and desires are met in relationship contexts.  How our needs and desires are fulfilled makes a significant difference in our healthy growth and development. We need to cultivate wisdom to fulfill each other's needs and desires. 

As human beings we all experience suffering in varying degrees. One of the main reasons for our suffering is our craving and intense neediness. Such a state of mind leads to not enough set of mind. When the mind is set on or fixated on that set point, there is always going to be more craving and more grabbing and more suffering.We get heavily and chronically attached or addicted to our craving resulting in ongoing suffering. People who are connected with us also suffer by  our wanting more and more from other persons. They feel trapped by our neediness and unreasonable expectations. Both get caught up in this energy draining vicious cycle.

Suffering is an opportunity for growth if we keep our mind and heart awakened and open. Our suffering can be a gateway to awakening. First we need to recognize and accept that we are unhappy. We need to have a clear intention of working on our suffering.With confidence we do the inner mindfulness work starting with breath mindfulness by letting the waves of hurtful thoughts, feelings and emotions come and go. Such introspective mindfulness work requires consistency, resolution and dedication. It is not how much time but how  we use our time that heals us.
I have been practicing mindfulness and teaching mindfulness for quite some time. Such practice turns thorns of suffering into flowers of fulfillment and happiness.

May we remain aware of self-created suffering and gain wisdom for making right choices!


Jagdish P dave

On Jun 27, 2017 Judy Yero wrote:

 One of the most profound changes I have experienced is recognizing that attachment to the outcome of my actions was the source of negative emotions...emotions that I could eliminate by removing the attachment to outcome. If I choose to do something for another person, there used to be an unconscious attachment to how my action would affect them. I pictured something positive...and if that didn't happen, it made me sad, or angry, or frustrated, etc. Once I became aware of this, I have worked toward doing...or not doing...with no attachment to outcome. I've been asked how one can separate the two because doing something implies a goal...and that goal is the attachment. So why would I be motivated to do anything if I didn't have that goal? I may now be a bit more selective about what I choose to offer in a given situation, but once I started monitoring my attachment to outcome, it has become much easier to do...or not do...and then walk away without looking back. It is not that I "don't care." It's that I realize I don't have the right to dictate the behavior of others.

On Jun 29, 2017 Sunil,Bangalore wrote:

Soul the life force/inner self is permanent.Eveything else external is impermanent.Learning to Attach with the soul detaching from the body,its manifestations & all things external is my goal.False feeling of deficiency is the source of attachment while soul itself is all powerful and self sufficient."Shivohum Shivohum ShivaSwaroopum.Nityohum,Budhohum, Shudhohum,Muktohum"is the meditation supported by breath to slowly become/remain soul conscious always.  

On Feb 13, 2018 saheli gupta wrote:

 keihifi have varaity products in their collection such as brands like home theater system , theater speakers denon,tannoy,LD systems, elac etc

On Oct 1, 2018 MondovinoFilm Calndario wrote:
This is really very informative post and great read for me. It’s my first visit to your website and I have found it so useful and informative specially this post. Keep up the good work! Thank you very much for this post. 
 Kalender November 2018 
Calendario Noviembre 2018
Calendario Novembro 2018 
Calendrier Novembre 2018 
Kalender Dezember 2018
Calendario Diciembre 2018 
Calendario Dezembro 2018
Calendrier Décembre 2018  

On Oct 1, 2018 MYBtech wrote:

 Thanks for your post! I think there are many other people who are interested in them just like me! How long does it take to complete this article? I have read through other blogs, but they are cumbersome and confusing. I hope you continue to have such quality articles to share!

On Oct 8, 2018 regt wrote:

 Thanks for sharing the post. This is a great list to use in the futur free gift codes generator and free gift card generator and free gift card generator

On Oct 13, 2018 printable calendar wrote:


On Oct 13, 2018 calendars wrote:

 <a href="">November 2018 Printable Calendar</a>

<a href="">Printable November 2018 Calendar</a>
<a href="">November 2018 Calendar With Holidays</a>
<a href="">November 2018 Calendar Template</a>
<a href="">December 2018 Printable Calendar</a>
<a href="">Printable Calendar December 2018</a>
<a href="">December 2018 Calendar With Holidays</a>
<a href="">December 2018 Calendar Template</a>
<a href="">Timetable Templates</a>
<a href="">Birthday Calendar Template</a>
<a href="">Monthly Planner Template 2018</a>
<a href="">Free Daily Calendar Template For Word PDF Excel</a>
<a href="">Weekly Calendar Template</a>
<a href="">Blank Calendar Template</a>

On Oct 15, 2018 calendars wrote:
 November 2018 Printable Calendar
Printable November 2018 Calendar

Printable Calendar December 2018

On Nov 1, 2018 Sample wrote: