We tend to accumulate a lot of stuff in life. We come into the world as infants with no baggage — emotionally or physically. As time goes on, people, things and situations come into our life, and our natural inclination is to attach ourselves to all of it, whether or not it continues to serve us. Sometimes this is because we fear change. Sometimes it’s because we fear for our lives. Sometimes it’s because we’re just plain lazy and don’t want to move on. For whatever the reason, the end result is the same — a life that’s overflowing with emotional or physical burdens and no room for anything else. These unwanted attachments cause tension and blockages in all areas of life.

In order to reduce stress and create new positive experiences in your life, you must release any and all attachments holding you back. Perhaps it’s a relationship (platonic or romantic) that’s run its course or draining your spirit. Perhaps it’s overflowing closets and house clutter blocking new energy into your environment. Perhaps it’s an old wound (physical or emotional) that you’re holding onto because you can’t forgive yourself or someone else, and you’ve learned to rely upon it for an excuse or blame.

Addictions can also serve as toxic attachments — alcohol, food, abusive relationships, gambling. These are all burdens that keep you from seeing the truth and being free. They are manifestations of the ego that disconnect you from your true spirit and potential.

Another type of attachment you may have is the grief from a loved one who has died. When we lose someone in our life — a partner, a child, a friend, a pet — the grief can be overwhelming. It’s as if you’re standing in a void, unable to get out, while the rest of the world keeps moving on. It’s important to take the time to grieve, to share your feelings with others and to remember the person or pet in whatever way brings you joy. Perhaps even write them a letter of gratitude for everything they meant to you. But, as life goes on — and it will — so must you. Releasing the grief and any regret you may have is essential to your well-being.

Sometimes attachments are so heavy that professional help is needed to release them. If this is the case, ask those you know (friends, teachers, doctors) for references. If you don’t think you need professional help, try talking through your issues with a friend or loved one. And of course, you can release attachments on your own as well. Once you identify what they are and that you are willing to release them and move on, the process starts immediately.

It’s a good idea once or twice a year to make a list of all the things (people, situations, objects, etc.) in your life that are no longer serving you in a positive way. Once you make this list, spend a few minutes in gratitude for all the lessons learned from each item on the list. Then take the list to a safe place where you can burn it and release it.

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