mindful

Understanding Detachment and the Meaning behind This ‘Spiritual’ Philosophy

Post by VanCityLifeCoach.com

“Attachment is the root of suffering.” - The Buddha

Detachment

I’ve been reading a lot about detachment, or non-attachment if you rather and like most, I've always believed the philosophy of detachment simply meant not letting material possessions have rule over your life. Which I guess is true, but teachings suggest that detachment roots much deeper than that. That one must detach oneself from people, emotions, thoughts and desires…basically, all the things we latch onto that give our lives meaning and purpose are none and void, if we wish to experience true freedom; liberation.

I was beginning to feel a little bewildered by the concept because it conflicted with a lot of my own ideas and beliefs. For one, I thoroughly enjoy connecting with people, so does this also mean that love keeps us from ever reaching this experience too?

After raising more questions and failing to firmly grasp the concept, I continued on with my day. It was only when I began my daily meditation that the concept re-entered my mind. As I sat there, cross-legged and awkwardly ready to achieve stillness and serenity, I was overcome by answers.

Detachment doesn’t necessarily mean living life a recluse and closing off connections and interactions to the world around us. Nor does it mean finding a spiritual place to live out the rest of our days trying to reach a higher level on consciousness. I began recognizing detachment as building a more mindful relationship with life, and how that journey towards mindfulness begins from within.

I always talk about identity and living life by the true values of who you are, by doing so you guide your life in a more fulfilled direction. I still believe this and it aligns with everything I’ve learned recently too.

Detachment is not about creating distance, I feel it’s more about understanding the true significance of life so that we better connect to it. For instance what do my possessions mean to me? Well if you think about it, they don’t actually mean anything. As a living organism; as a force of life, my possessions really have no value.

So feeling like I learned something amazing, I shared this conclusion with a friend of mine and he said “well what if you were on a life support machine, you’d need that wouldn't you?” Ah...that got me thinking and the thought kept me up for a couple of nights as my mind was once again riddled.

A few days had passed and I was writing a letter to a client of mine. I was fully engaged in a state of flow and out of nowhere I found the response to my friend’s question: ‘Well why am I, or would I, be afraid to die?’ That one realization blew my understanding of attachment wide open, particularly how attachment causes us to fear/avoid one of life’s uncomplicated and inevitable outcomes. At that moment I felt completely present. I finally understood the significance of detachment and how it fits in with life’s most basic principles, right up there with death and breathing.

I started to look at my life much more closely, everything from brushing my teeth in the morning through to picking up my nephew for a cuddle after work. What does it all mean to life, not my life, just life in general? My nephew has only existed for several months and now I feel I can’t live without him…how and why does this impact my life so much? How and why does this rule my life? Each answer only raised these same questions.

The more I broke down my life and especially as I delved into my past, I noticed how little control and influence I had over it. I clearly wasn’t grasping what life meant at all. I was living life attached and as a result, I was indeed suffering: from my lack of confidence (controlled by what other people thought of me), to the fear of paving my own path (expectations from and responsibilities to those around me)...it all made complete sense.

I’m thinking that maybe we could all use a little less attachment in our lives, to step away and embrace actual life. Maybe I’ve got it completely lost in translation or just maybe, I’ve stumbled upon the beginning of something more definitive for myself.

I am also realizing that detachment has just as much, if not more to do with the physical realm than it does with the spiritual. I think detachment isn’t this glorious concept that I’ve always thought it to be, I think the true beauty and power behind this philosophy lies within its simplicity.

Either way, this recent experience has at the very least, taught me to keep my mind and my eyes wide open; to be more mindful and aware, and that outcome alone is priceless.

VanCity

Stay awake with me.

Staying awake

The beauty of life, is that we have the opportunity to live it. So long as we maintain awareness within present moments, life can be experienced fully.

We can spend hours delving into non-existent pockets of time that satisfy our fears and suppress our truest desires. But if we do allow our minds to wander throughout time, we run the risk of losing touch with ourselves and end up losing touch with present moments we want to live.

I’d notice that my thoughts would often turn negative and I would feel as if my life would lose its value, whenever I allowed my present to be affected by the insecurities of my past and/or any uncertainties of my future. And in these moments, I’d be overcome by an overwhelming desire to escape my present completely, resulting in avoidance and halting any progression towards the life I wanted to be living.

I feel now, with my priorities in complete order and my consciousness focused on being very present and aware, I've been able to maintain more control over my own mindset. Every time I feel my mind wanders off in time, I wake up and snap back into productivity. I do what I have to do to satisfy the actual moment, instead of feeding any negative perception.

If for whatever reason I’m not happy or am feeling as if life is running away from me, I take it as a sign that I need to wake up. I've become increasingly mindful of how I had let non-existent moments in time affect my present life:

  • The lack of comradery in my past would cause me to hold onto unhealthy friendships in my present. By allowing my mind to drift off into the past, I continued to fail in my present. I’ve learnt that there is no moving forward if I’m consistently looking back, I cannot allow my past experiences cause me to drift into assumptions and notions that rationalize negative behavior today. I have to honor the present and take charge of the very moment I’m living.
  • On the other hand, the future has had its funny way of messing with my present too. I was recently offered an opportunity that connected really well to my goals, I hesitated before accepting this opportunity because I let my mind wander into the uncertainty of the future, and I was about to let a significant opportunity slip away from me because of a presumption that things wouldn't work out. To me that sounds just as ridiculous as living in the past, I desire a bright future yet here I am questioning the very opportunities that may give it to me. Although I have a clear vision of how I want my future to turn out, I cannot, and must not, allow this future affect my self awareness. My present choices determine the outcome of my future, so it makes sense not to dwell too much on thinking forward, but rather spend present efforts moving forward.

To maintain control over my mindset, I ask myself if this is what I truly want; "Am I completely fulfilled in this moment?" Or "Am I letting the burden of time affect me from experiencing and accepting this moment fully?"

Failing to "Stay awake" caused me to drift away into moments of negativity, resulting in self-doubt and complacency. It's important to rigorously maintain self-awareness o understand that the past is no longer in existence,  and the future can only be determined if the present is truly nurtured. Practicing this has now made my life much simpler, and I spend less time thinking and more time doing.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach