The WHEN and WHERE of Detachment

From: Janardhan
Sent on: Thursday, June 27, 2013 11:38 PM
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Next week marks the beginning of a new chapter. A couple of months ago, I was invited to a mother's day celebration in the San Francisco Prison. It was my first time in close proximity of such an institution, at this women's prison. If the stories I read on the art exhibits hanging on the lobby walls didn't numb me, the poetry and skits performed by the children of imprisoned mothers certainly did. New mothers or soon-to-be mothers get imprisoned for petty crimes and get separated, not even able to nurse their newborns. This is traumatic for both mother and infant. So, I volunteered to bring meditation to ease some of that pain. They gave me four sessions next week. Please send your good wishes as we attempt to heal some of the scars of their trauma.

If you want to know what else I've been engrossed with these days, listen to this interview on Intention Radio.

Enjoy the illustration on the art of mastering detachment.

In peace,

The WHEN and WHERE of Detachment

We often acknowledge the value of detachment and our intention to ‘detach’ when we say things like, “I just need to step away for a moment” or “I just need to centre myself” or “I can sense there is something I need to let go of here”.

In this part of our series on attachment/detachment, we explore the ‘inner shift’ that allows us to ‘let go’ and the various ways we can help our self to detach in different situations and thereby restore our inner peace and inner power. The shift from attachment to detachment is, in essence, a ‘change of relationship’. To ‘detach’ is to change our relationship with the object of attachment.

The most frequent words that indicate our attachment to anything, is ‘my’ and ‘mine’. These words express the relationship of possessor and possessed. My money, my house, my partner, my body, my job, my team, my idea, my beliefs all indicate the presence of attachment and a relationship between the ‘possessor’ and the ‘possession’. As we have seen in the last two weeks this relationship is entirely within our consciousness. And, as we have been realising, when we attempt to possess anything or anyone we are setting our self up for inevitable emotional suffering in the form of sadness (after loss) or fear (of future loss) or anger (blame for loss).

Even though we may intellectually know and acknowledge that ‘nothing is mine’ in absolute terms, the conditioning that plants the ‘belief’ in possessor/possessions is so deep that making this inner shift takes practice. It is a shift that ultimately frees us on the inside and enables us to live with greater lightness and ease on the outside.

Here are seven ways that may help you to ‘detach’, if not a lot at first, then a little at least, in a variety of situations.

1 Change your relationship from possessor to trustee

Use when you get too attached to your possessions. Remind yourself nothing actually belongs to you. From the highest perspective, which is the spiritual perspective, you cannot own anything. However, you are a ‘trustee’ of every ‘thing’ in your life until the time comes for someone else to have it in their life! Often we have little or no say when that will be.

2 Let go

Use when you are holding to a specific opinion/position. Next time you find yourself in an argument disarm the other by simply saying, “I don’t agree with you but I accept that is your point of view. Tell me more so that I may understand why you see it that way” Remind your self that everyone has a different point of view because everyone is viewing from a different point. So no one is right. Trying to be right and prove ourselves right is one of our most popular happiness killers!

3 Practice giving

Use when you recognise yourself to be always wanting/desiring something from others. When you want something you are already attached to the object of your desire (including certain behaviours that we ‘want’ from others). Where? In your mind. Almost all of us learn this habit from the moment we are born. It often sounds like, “Gimme gimme gimme!” This habit can be weakened and eventually broken by consciously practicing ‘giving’ free of any desire for anything in return.

4 Mentally rehearse different outcomes

Use when you are fearful of change in and you are ‘attached to’ and ‘comfortable with’ the way things are. Or when you are holding on to some form of self-limitation (I can’t). All the top performers in most sports now realize the power that comes from mental rehearsal or visualization. Take a few minutes to visualize future changes as a preparation to accept and embrace those changes if and when they do arrive. ‘See’ yourself doing what you previously thought you couldn’t. As you practice you will find that you naturally start to ‘let go’ of the ‘image’ of the way things are and the ‘idea’ that ‘I can’t cope’.

5 Don’t identify with the situation/outcome

Use in any process, anytime and anywhere in life. This simply means don’t make your happiness dependent on something outside your self, especially the results of yours or others actions. Don’t wait to achieve some goal before you give your self permission to be happy (content). Be contented whatever the outcome of anything. Happiness can be a choice and a decision, not a random experience or a dependency. Do something good, and in the ‘process’ of the doing of the good, you will notice happiness arising naturally ‘during’ the process and not just at the end. If it doesn’t then you probably need to review your definition of goodness.

6 Imagine someone else dealing with the situation – how would they deal with it?

Use when your attachment to something or someone is obviously influencing your ability to interact calmly and clearly with others. Take a moment to imagine how someone whose wisdom you respect would handle the situation. This loosens your mental grip on ‘your way’ and weakens your habits of reaction. If they are nearby ask them how they would respond. The conversation alone will allow a more detached perspective to crystallize within your consciousness.

7 Look at the situation through the eyes of the other party

Appropriate in all conflict situations – this forces you to mentally release your attachment to one point of view and to generate understanding and empathy. Ask, listen, ask, listen, ask, listen, is the secret to understanding the others point of view. As you do you will see though the eyes of another and free yourself in the process. They too are then more likely to realise their fixation on ‘my way’ and become more amenable to ‘other’ ways. It’s no accident that the aspiration towards this kind of mutual understanding underpins most conflict resolution processes.

If you do decide to practice and experiment with any of the above it’s perhaps best to mention that you are doing so! Until the ‘other’ clearly understands the true meaning of detachment i.e. that it does not mean you do not care or that you are avoiding, there is a good chance they will find your intention either threatening or confusing. Mums the word…as they say in some parts!

©  Mike George 2013

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