People often ask: “How do I practice non-attachment?”

Well, non-attachment is actually not something that we can practice. If you want a piece of cake, trying really hard to not want it, isn’t going to serve you much, nor will pretending that you don’t want it. You might end up convincing yourself that this is the case, but will not have cultivated a mind that is non-attached and at peace. On some level, you will still be gripping.

However, if you pay very careful attention to how you feel in the moments after eating the cake—the quick high, the crash, the belly ache, the unsatisfactoriness of taste coming and going so quickly—you are now helping your mind learn that this piece of cake, which we think is bringing so much joy, is actually leading to some distress, discomfort, and suffering, albeit on a subtle level. This approach is very different than trying to convince yourself you don’t want something that you really think you want.

You cannot try to be unattached. This is still a form of attachment. Non-attachment comes from the mind’s deep understanding that staying attached is causing suffering. Only then will it release its grip.