7 Ways To Practice Detachment

Our humanistic need to control, being attached to a specific need, craving or outcome drives us to live in a fear based perspective causing much suffering in the form of stress, worry and anger/frustration. This control also includes requirements that we feel have to be met in order to produce a ‘happy’ life. Consider this cure: detachment. There is a universal truth that some have figured out; in order to acquire something, say happiness, you have to relinquish your attachment to having it.

WHAT?

This does not mean detach from feeling good, having nice things or achieving greatness. It means we have to detach from the idea of the exact outcome and surrender to the process. Detach from needing to have things work out exactly a certain way.

“Detachment is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you.” Ali ibn abi Talib

The kind of detachment meant here has absolutely nothing to do with the clinical or Americanized version of this word which can come across as unemotional, uninvolved, distant. The meaning to focus on is the Buddhist principle of detachment or perhaps a more accurate term is non-attachment. Non-attachment: “the determination to be free.” Practicing simple acts of letting go of our emotional clinginess and control can make a huge difference in improving our mental health and state of being. There are three forms of viveka (detachment): kaaya-viveka (physical withdrawal), citta-viveka (mental withdrawal), and upadhi-viveka (withdrawal from the roots of suffering). The focus here is on the withdrawal from the roots of suffering.

“The root of suffering is attachment.” Buddha

Surrender to the outcome, not the emotion you want to feel. And trust that your higher power is supporting you.

Simple shifts to practice detachment, or non-attachment:

1. Practice being an observer. This means taking a step back and consider what this would look like if it were someone else experiencing your situation.

2. Stop placing conditions of your happiness on outside factors.

3. Replace verbiage of “I need” to “I want”

4. Replace verbiage of “I have to” to “I get to” or even better, “I am blessed to”

5. Put focus on the journey, not the outcome.

6. Accept that some things are out of our control, and trust in your higher power that it will all work as it should, regardless.

7. Pause, breathe and meditate/pray on the situation before any action is taken.

The practice of detachment, or non-attachment, is similar to ‘achieving’ a difficult yoga posture. It is a practice. A return to the mat. Over and over again. It requires building muscles, patience and allowing grace- and humor- to wash over you, every single day. This isn’t about denying or cutting off your emotions either. You always acknowledge your emotions, your feelings and embrace them without any expectation or need for control. Start with the small stuff and allow your non-attachment muscles to grow with every situation, perspective and action.

“Detach from needing to have things work out a certain way. The universe is perfect and there are no failures. Give yourself the gift of detaching from your worries and trust that everything is happening perfectly.” – Anonymous

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Shannon Jamail

Shannon Jamail is a therapist and coach and leads heart centered women’s retreats around the globe. Having a degree in…

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