Happy Wednesday! 🙂
I spent the weekend seeking inspiration for what to write about this week. Attached to finding inspiration, nothing came to me and no idea seemed good enough. This made me a little restless and upset about missing my Monday posting schedule, so I decided to go to yoga. Got on the mat, the teacher starts the class and tells us the theme of the night is Detachment. Detachment of how we think things should be and the acceptance and noticing of how things are. This made me smile and a light bulb went on in my head.
All this while I was grasping on to my search for inspiration, and my inspiration winds up being a mention of detachment. Clearly the Universe has a sense of humour. 😉
Majority of my teenage years were spent in my head planning my perfect life according to both expectations I set for myself and those inherited from family and society. I knew exactly what age I had to be married at, how many kids to have and when, what salary I would be earning by certain ages. It all made sense and seemed logical and fool-proof.
Grew into my early twenties and every relationship I went into and partner choices became guided by this rigid timeline. The same applied to my career choices and really my whole way of living. This intense attachment to my desired outcome was so profound that I’d even act a certain way to attract a certain type of partner. Something else I would do was rush into forming bonds and avoid voicing my opinion all for the sake of reaching relationship milestones. Similarly for work, I would move impatiently from job to job to hit my salary targets.
Woke up in my late twenties, with a life that somewhat resembled my “perfect life”. My time line may have been significantly delayed but I was still kind of close…yet so far. Not married yet but engaged. No kids yet, but there had been talks about kids. One thing I had definitely done was climb the career ladder but that also wasn’t good enough. To be honest my relationship at the time had also hit a space of non stop arguments, lack of trust and strong codependency. However I was so desperate to hang on to the vision of my “perfect life” that I didn’t want to let go despite it costing my happiness and peace of mind.
Of the four noble truths of Buddhism the second truth states that the origin of suffering is attachment.
The detachment principle
Detachment, also sometimes termed non-attachment is the letting go of your desire for specific things, people, concepts or outcomes. Promoted in various Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Taoism, the principle is that to acquire anything in the physical universe, you have to release your attachment to it.
In the above narrative, you can probably guess why I felt it cost me my happiness and peace of mind. Ambition, although a great attribute, if left untamed can throw us into a vicious cycle of desperately wanting more and what we have never feeling good enough. A main reason this happens is that we burden our expectations and milestones with the pressure of them bringing us joy and pleasure. If we are just able to buy that house, get that job or find that perfect partner our pleasure or satisfaction will be met. Practically though, this feeling of satisfaction is short lived. Even with heightened emotions like falling in love, the associated pleasure eventually fades into the monotony of life.
However practicing detachment should not be mistaken as an excuse to be indifferent, careless, passive or worse, self depriving. Understandably, some may presume the optimal of non-attachment is the denial of desires and cravings. Buddhist principle recommends that to rise above the suffering derived from attachment we should not put ourselves in a state of utter deprivation. As humans, it is natural for us to be subject to desires, or feel a sense of satisfaction. The issue arises when we do not know how to end these desires or constantly give into them.
Therefore, I would say the practice of detachment can be more as a self empowering tool for finding equilibrium.
Detachment principle into practice
Since undergoing complete shifts in life circumstances and perspective, I find myself a lot more receptive to the concept of letting go. However I have notice that detachment is an art form and takes practice.
Here are some steps I find help me cultivate the detachment principle in my life
Observation – The first thing I do is notice. Notice and acknowledge within myself, the strong attachment I may be feeling towards a person, thing or outcome. Part of my acknowledgment is locating that feeling of want in my body. I sit with the emotion and allowing the emotion come up and flow through me.
Processing – Once I have allowed myself feeling whichever emotion is attached to the strong desire, I process. What else came up for me while in that moment? Any insecurities? Maybe buried hurt from previous experiences? I start to give words to my thoughts and form the narrative. Putting it on paper personally works well for me. I would recommend you take time exploring what works better for you.
Objective Inquiry– With your narrative scripted, you can begin to objectively challenge the thoughts, deeper emotions or insecurities that may have come up. Will clinging onto your partner really make them love you? Did you experience something similar in the past? Will buying that new car really give you validation? Begin to make notes of your responses. As you allow yourself process, you may find ideas, plans, multiple perspectives and alternatives may spring to mind.
Action -Depending on the original subject of your attachment tangible actions may come about that you decide to work on at this stage. It may also be intangible actions like welcoming more flexibility to your original perspective or thanking yourself for pulling through the first three steps.
That’s it from me on this weeks love letter. Hope you find this useful and please feel free to share your thoughts on the detachment principle.
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