"Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached." -- Simone Weil
Many of the people I do readings for are here on this Earth to learn how to work with detachment (or nonattachment, as it is sometimes called). Because each of us must
eventually acquire this important virtue to achieve self-mastery, it is worthwhile to explore the meaning of detachment as it applies to our own lives.
Detachment is something we most often hear about in connection with Eastern philosophy. The term is widely misunderstood, both in the West and in the East. Detachment does not mean withdrawal from a person or a situation, or from life. The Christian tradition offers us perhaps a better term -- "Divine
indifference" -- but this too can be misleading, because detachment does not mean indifference to the needs or suffering of others. What then does it mean? Detachment means involvement without emotional attachment to the
A child who loses a cherished toy may wail and carry on like the end of the world has come. But the adult knows it isn´t the end of the world. The grownup
smiles and comforts the child, saying if the toy can´t be found, it can be replaced with another, perhaps even better toy. The adult here is exercising wisdom gained from life experience. Yet this same adult likely has some attachments, some "cherished toys," of his or her own. And the grownup equivalent of the screaming fit may take the form of depression, grief or some other kind of emotional pain.
Sometimes this pain heals quickly; sometimes it does not.
Throughout our lives, we all become attached in endless ways to people, places and situations, and to our possessions, plans, ideas, ideals, emotional states and beliefs. So much so that it seems "only natural" to be attached. But the spiritually focused person eventually comes to realize that in truth, nothing in this world ever really belongs to us, that everything in life is "on loan from the cosmic lending library."
When we truly grasp this principle, it becomes apparent to us that the more
anchored we are in our attachments, the more we suffer when they are taken from us; and conversely, the fewer things we are attached to, the freer we are from suffering. Liberation
from suffering means greater happiness and the ability to choose how we relate to life´s situations. And the less attached we are, the more our minds can be free to cruise at higher altitudes.
Typically it is at the point when we genuinely internalize these understandings
that we begin to see the value of working with detachment and to take it upon ourselves to cultivate it. The process can be awkward, because the concept is easy to agree with in theory but often difficult to apply broadly and consistently in our lives. Yet there are some specific strategies we can use to make the process easier and more effective. Following are some strategies that are helpful to me in my process. Perhaps you will find them to be useful to you.
Some Strategies for Cultivating Detachment
1. Realize that working with detachment is possible and realistic. The ability to approach life in a nonattached way might seem like a personality trait, but detachment is in fact a mental
skill, one that can be learned and eventually mastered.
2. Acknowledge that you can indeed learn to work with detachment. If you aren´t convinced of this, try the following exercise. Think back over the last 10 years of your life and make a list of all those people, places, plans, ideas, beliefs and other things you "needed," things you thought you absolutely couldn´t do without. How many of these did you eventually learn to let go of, or simply outgrow your need for? What this exercise will most likely reveal to you is that you are already in the process of learning nonattachment, albeit in a slower, more cumbersome way,
without being aware of it.
3. How does one learn to work with detachment? The answer to that question is the same as the punchline to the old joke, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!" Begin
by practicing detachment with the small things in life, then gradually apply the same mindset to progressively larger issues.
4. Be patient with yourself. When you make a conscious choice to transcend your attachments, you begin to notice the subtle currents of energy that feed into your own unique learning process. And you begin to appreciate just how fine a line you are walking in practicing "involvement
without attachment." It takes time to sort through and fine tune all of the various layers of perception involved.
5. Learn to keep a constant vigil over your thoughts.
6. Use your imagination to invent ways of approaching life in a less detached way.
7. Realize that you are not working in a vacuum. True, the people around you may not share your interest in cultivating nonattachment, but the awarenesses and understandings you gain from your process will refine and empower your own consciousness so that you affect positively all those whose lives you touch. And at the very least, you are setting a good example.
8. Work with affirmations. Below are some suggested affirmations from my Affirmations for Gods and Goddesses in the Making Oracle. Feel free to print them for your personal use and to rewrite them in any way you choose.
Affirmations for Cultivating detachment
Celestial Mother dances throughout eternity,
Creating, sustaining, dissolving.
I am a part of Her Cosmic Dance,
I refuse to let anything bother me.
Unswayed by the drama of daily events,
Unruffled by the comings and goings of others,
Indifferent to their negativity and ignorance,
I fix my thoughts on Her alone,
Attune myself to Her Indwelling Presence,
Anchor my mind in Her Radiant Light,
Keep myself calm and peaceful within,
Allowing Her Beauty to work through me,
As I become absorbed in Her.
Celestial Mother dwells within me,
And knowing that I am one with Her,
I choose to let nothing bother me, ever.
Reprinted courtesy of CosmicLotus.org: a Cyberministry. Rev. Sue Annabrooke Jones is the voice behind `Mental Yentl, the Meditation Matchmaker,´ the world´s first and only
meditation matchmaking service. She is also a life purpose psychic and is the author of two jokes books, Chuckle Chowder and Chuckle Chowder II: Second Helping. Visit her website at http://CosmicLotus.org