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“The root of suffering is attachment” -Buddha


Think of a time that you found yourself attached to something in your artistic practice that you couldn’t let go of, but now have.

I’m interested to hear what comes up when I ask this question, as well as when you noticed, how you felt and the process of releasing the attachment. I know I have a few stories to share.

My answer:

There have been many things that I have been “too attached to”: Idea, identity, Brand, etc. and each time, these attachments have limited my growth because they have limited my openness.

Thoughts and Actions:

Generally, when we say attachment, we think of the well documented and defined “attachment theory” as it applies to relationships between children and care givers - and the impact of those relationships on adult relationships. 

But we can form attachments to many things, even in our artist practice. A style, a persons approval, a skill, an outcome, etc.

Outcome is a really big one. Being attached to outcome (like say getting “the gig”… for example) can change our entire focus in our practice, and be incredibly limiting. It’s worth noting that attachment to outcome and goal focus are different.

Once we release our attachment to an outcome, it doesn’t mean that we’re any less interested in manifesting a goal.  It simply means that we’re less interested in the fear of not achieving it.  We’ve shifted our attention away from fear because we feel safe.

Our minds like to have problems to work on and they’ll happily work on whatever problems we give them.  If your mind is focused on solving the problem of trying to come up with just one viable option, it will work under the premise that one is difficult for you.

If your mind is focused on solving the problem of choosing between or managing multiple good options, it will assume that the task is easy for you and it will redirect its efforts to something much more useful: getting creative.  Fear-oriented mindset is replaced with opportunity-oriented mindset. 

It’s not just Buddhism that reminds us of the link between attachment and unhappiness (suffering), there are many schools of thought that link the two. So if our ultimate goal is to find peace in our artistic practice (peace is absence of unhappiness, anxiety, and fear), part of the process has to be to release unhealthy attachments - as they lead us away from happiness and take our focus out of the present. Presence is a big part of peace, and peace is a big part of maintaining a life long practice.

Attachment prevents presence, presence is needed for peace, without peace we cannot sustain practice or be creative. It’s all linked together. Envision operating under a constant state of anxiety due to attachment to SOMETHING… not a very creative mindset.

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