DETACHMENT- WISH THEY TAUGHT US THIS IN SCHOOL!!

It’s easy to know why people have not heard of detachment,  when things are going well for us and we feel positive and full of inspiration, when we are in love, we don’t think of why it is at that very time we should be practicing detachment.  However, on the flip side, when we are faced with grief, loss or failure, detachment becomes a necessity and of course, we are all guilty of being reactive, and not proactive. 

That reactivity translates with our mental health – we don’t seek therapy in the above scenarios until we are desolate and empty – which of course is the worst time to seek therapy.  When you are depressed, how appealing is it to look for a therapist that is a good fit?  Who wants to do that?

The mental health stigma is real.  They can spend millions of dollars trying to end the stigma, but the stigma still exists, and it is real. Especially with this pandemic, so many individuals are struggling with their mental health.

I have to thank my client today for the reason for this blog, because I also have been struggling with my own grieving process and forgot about this creative outlet- of writing that comes so naturally for me. So, thank you! In our session today, Mr. anonymous and I were talking about unconditional love.  We were talking about stages in a relationship and how people are inherently co-dependent on each other and that a lot of people think they love their significant other unconditionally- but they really don’t.  I believe some of us love our children unconditionally, not their significant other.  Unconditional love- is literal- it is without conditions. 

We also spoke about loving yourself- and that it is not selfish to do so.  It is fully knowing who you are and loving yourself at 100% so that when you do meet that special person, you have the ability to unconditionally love them.

 I nonchalantly brought up- the fact that I practice detachment.  I superficially explained what my perception of detachment was – and how I correlate detachment with unconditional love.  When he asked me to send him information, I felt, well if he wanted to know more about it, it probably is a great topic to blog about, not to mention, another tool for your toolbox, if you need it.

Of course, the opposite of detachment is attachment- the study of Buddhism asks students to reflect on the application of how teachings relate to their own lives and own experiences.  When you really think about the concept of “attachment” you realize it is the cause of all your problems. You don’t just get attached to people, you can get attached to anything.  Anger, jealousy, selfishness, greed and arrogance.

When we are attached to being right and perfect, we can become angry at others because we are so attached to the expectation we have of them so we lose our temper when they cannot reach it.

Jealousy is due to attachment to other people.  We fear losing them, so we try to possess them through ownership.  Detachment is not literal in the sense it is not about withdrawing from people.  It simply means viewing things from a different perspective, while simultaneously remaining fully involved.  It is all about releasing the requirement for the attachment to an object.  We still can be fully involved, without being wrapped up in fear and anxiety. 

n order to acquire something, you have to relinquish your attachment to having it.

When you recognize that the only genuine source of security is living as your true self, you can more easily detach.

How we attach in everyday life

Now it’s all well and good to read about what attachment means, but what does attachment look like in everyday life?

Attachment is connected to the ego. The ego is a construct of yourself that you’ve built through years of conditioning. It is who you believe yourself to be, and it is also what separates yourself from all other things or people.When you’re attached to your ego, you’re attached to how you see view yourself. When the reality doesn’t match to that image, your attachment causes suffering or pain.

For example:

– When you’re unable to reach your personal goals at work that you’ve set for yourself, you question the abilities you thought you had.

– When you find out your partner has cheated on you, your idea of what you thought your future family was going to look like is shattered. Attachment is like having expecations in life. When you don’t live up to those expectations, you feel pain.

Detachment requires more involvement without being connected to the outcome.

Subsequently, detachment creates more involvement, but without being connected to the outcome.  It is like viewing ourselves from a distance and looking at things objectively without immersing the Ego.

We can practice detachment by working on it daily with small things.  It takes practice, and it reveals itself in stages.

The first Step- Acknowledgement

When we are dealing with a strong attachment or a major loss, we need to start by acknowledging our feelings.  These feelings are the messiest qualities of attachment- the excited desire that we feel when we really want something, the anxiety that happens when we think we will lose it, and the hopelessness that arises when we don’t achieve it.

Acknowledging our feelings does not imply that you want something severely or the feeling of loss.  When you want something- try to feel, how you want it- find the wanting sense in your body.   When you are feeling arrogance about a triumph, be with the part of yourself that wants yourself to win- whatever that is. Rather than pushing the anxiety away and the fear of losing what you care about, let it come up and breathe into it.  When you are experiencing the hopelessness of actual loss, allow it, let yourself feel it.  Cry if you need to so you can release it.

Equal Breathing

How it’s done:

To do this breathing technique, firstly inhale through the nose to a count of 4, then exhale from the nose for a count of 4.

If you’re the type who likes to improve at something constantly, then over time you can increase the number seconds you inhale and exhale for. Just make sure it’s equal.

Yogis generally do 6-8 counts per breath. This will help to calm the nervous system and reduce stress.

Remember, the main goal of this technique is to equalize your breathing.

As you become more experienced, you’ll feel more comfortable increasing your inhales and exhales, which will make you even more relaxed.

The Second Step- Self Inquiry

Once you have experienced your feelings- you need to process them through self-inquiry.  To do this start questioning the feelings – the desire, or grief or hopelessness that comes into your consciousness.  Label it.  Talk to yourself prior to doing this so that you can take care of the part that may need comforting.  Remind yourself that you do have resources, breathe, ask for healing out loud. 

Self-inquiry, is about being a witness to yourself.  You need to explore the energy behind the feelings.  As you look at the messiness of the energy and start labelling those feelings, they begin to dissipate- at least for the time being.  Any method for working through your feelings, it allows you to acknowledge them and be present with them while simultaneously standing aside from them.

Ego: I am a victim of circumstance.
Think instead: I create my own reality.

Ego: I am alive temporarily and that is scary.
Think instead: I am alive temporarily and that is awesome.

Ego: I am in competition with the world.
Think instead: I am in harmony with the world.

Third Step- Processing

In the third step of detachment, you become aware of what you find useful in the two previous steps.  This is what I refer to as looking at your situation whatever it may be and instead apply different tools- such as “it’s just a thought” – mindfulness, or talking back to the feelings- “Things will get better” and this allows you to start the process of detachment or what I like to call heal.  Looking at the glass half full, rather than half empty.  The It’s a blessing in disguise attitude is another way of looking at situations that are not perhaps the greatest.  My favourite thing to say these days is “it is what it is!” That to me is pure detachment.  You are apathetic, which means you are not attaching a feeling to whatever is going on.

Fourth step  – Creative Action

Desire or loss can paralyze us, we find that we have no will to act.  One of the reasons we take tie to process is help us out of this paralyzed or “stuck” feeling. So that when we do act, we are not driven by fear, so that we have some sort of control.  As you move through processing your feelings, ideas will start to emerge again, and you actually feel interested in doing them- this is when you can start creative action.  

Step Five: Freedom

When you start thinking about your loss or the thing you desire, and it doesn’t effect your normal feelings of well-being, you reach this stage- freedom!!Desire, fear and hopelessness are embedded deeply in our psyches, and they are palpable whenever any trace of attachment exists.  We know we have begun to achieve true detachment in a situation when we can examine what is occurring without instantly becoming blindsided by these feelings. (hopelessness, desire and fear).This stage is true liberation- and is described as the feeling of putting down a heavy burden.  It is not an easy thing- so whenever we can free ourselves from those messy feelings, we unlock the chain of servitude. Whether you are practicing detachment daily or using it as a way of dealing with an obstacle, it is easier to do it with a gentle attitude. 

Here are some tips to take meaningful action in the present moment:

  1. Focus only on single tasks, no matter how small it is.
  2. Do your tasks at a slow, relaxed pace. Take it in and enjoy it.
  3. Minimize checking things like Facebook. They’re distractions that take you away from the task you’re doing.
  4. Tell yourself: Now I am…As you do something, simply tell yourself what you’re doing. If you’re brushing your teeth, tell yourself that and only do that.
  5. Start a meditation practice. This is a great way to learn to calm your mind and improve your focus. You’ll find that you’re more productive when your mind is clear and you know what you need to do.

Don’t beat yourself up

When you experience negative emotions, don’t get upset with your life. Embrace all the facets of life and be thankful that you’re actually aware of what you’re feeling. We only get life once – so bask in life in all possible ways – the good, the bad, the bitter-sweet, the heartbreak – everything!

References

 Brown (2020) The real art of buddhist attachment and why most of us get it wrong https://hackspirit.com/zen-master-explains-real-meaning-non-attachment-us-get-wrong/

Hockson (2015) Detach yourself from what you are holding onto. https://thoughtcatalog.com/nadine-hocson/2015/05/10-gradual-steps-to-successfully-detach-yourself-from-what-youre-holding-onto/

Kempton, (2007) The 5 Stages of Detachment: Learning How to Let  Go. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/practice-detachment/

Psych Central.com (2021) When Letting Go Is Tough: How to Emotionally Detach from Someone https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-what-why-when-and-how-of-detaching-from-loved-ones

Kozlowski, (2021) How Detachment Can Lead to Happiness In Your Life https://thriveglobal.com/stories/how-detachment-can-lead-to-happiness-in-your-life/

caronleid

I believe you can learn something new everyday.

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