Words to Ponder ~Detachment
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 01:01AM
Medit8ng in Meditations


“Who you are
Does not depend on others.
How you are
Is a reflection of your connection to your soul.
Keep yourself in a peaceful state of mind,
Unaltered by the influence  of external forces.
Return to Peace and all around you will follow”

~Noreen  (3/30/95)



There was a time a few years ago when I first began regularly practicing meditation.  I was learning from the amazing works of Thich Nhat Hanh and his book “
Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.”  During that time, I was releasing many ways of coping that were no longer working for me. 

Among the many things going on in my life at that time, I was learning to let go of holding on to anger and blame, and I was learning forgiveness.  These were very big lessons for me.  I had a pretty rough childhood, and a very big part of who I was at the time was centered around me working through the role of victim.

I had made so much progress, too.  And had even tasted some of the ‘peace of mind’ that I so diligently pursued.  Then my heart got broken.  I had a break in a relationship that seemed to shatter the hold I thought I had on that peaceful state.  There I was again, going through that ‘victim’ role, and not really understanding how to get myself back to that peaceful state.

It took me a while (a bit of time had to come between me and the events) for me to learn about the beauty of detachment.  And the role that it plays in getting ourselves back to that peaceful state of mind.

-Emotional detachment, in psychology can mean two different things. In the first meaning, it refers to an inability to connect with others emotionally, as well as a means of dealing with anxiety by preventing certain situations that trigger it; it is often described as "emotional numbing" or dissociation. In the second sense, it is a type of mental assertiveness that allows people to maintain their boundaries and psychic integrity when faced with the emotional demands of another person or group of persons.- [from

Seeing that word the way that those in the field of psychology see it, I can understand why there were times that others would label me as ‘detached’ and what that implied..  Ouch.

There is another way to look at this concept of detachment that another teacher, Thubten Chodron speaks of:

'Detachment' isn't an accurate translation of the Buddhist concept. 'Non-attachment' may be better. Detachment implies being uninvolved, cold, and aloof. However, in the Buddhist sense, non-attachment means having a balanced attitude, free from clinging. When we are free from attachment, we won't have unrealistic expectations of others, nor will we cling to them out of fear of being miserable when they aren't there. Non-attachment is a calm, realistic, open, and accepting attitude. It isn't hostile, paranoid, or unsociable. Having a balanced attitude doesn't mean rejecting our friends and family. It means relating to them in a different way. When we aren't attached, our relationships with others are harmonious, and in fact, our affection for them increases."
Buddhism for Beginners

I came to learn from amazing teachers like these that holding on to the past, or worrying about the future is attaching my mind and energy to things that are keeping me from experiencing the present moment.  Which is really all that matters anyway.  That’s when I wrote the words you see above (which I still to this day have posted on my monitor at work as a gentle reminder).

Learning to let go of attachment is not the same as detachment.  But practicing detachment is the art of actively being in a state of non-attachment, of seeing all things for what they are, and for allowing them to be what they are. 

During your day, there are ways to work toward detachment. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests using those very situations that annoy you such as red lights, ringing phones etc. as signals to practice. He tells us to " breath in, smile out". 

This is not easy to do when you are faced with a person that has just brought to mind thoughts of betrayal and rejection.  But it can be done.  Breath in the pain of that breakup.  Breath out the freedom to begin anew.  Breath in the feeling of rejection.  Breath out the acceptance of yourself just the way you are.  Breath in the feeling of loss, and breath out the joy of that which you gained.  

“Breath in, smile out”.   Return to peace and all around you will follow.

And, as they say in A Course in Miracles, "there is another way to look at this"

Article originally appeared on BreathingInSpirit (http://breathinginspirit.com/).
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