In this series on spirituality, I share some life lessons I’ve learned from my spiritual advisors.
Imagine a pair of conjoined twins that are physically attached to each other from birth. They have to do everything together — sleeping, sitting, walking, etc. — whether they like it or not. It’s not ideal for either one. It’s uncomfortable to say the least. It’s only when they are separated through surgery that they can look to grow and thrive.
Similarly, what happens when we get emotionally attached to others? For instance, when others get mad, we also get mad, or when others are sad, we also get sad. This means our state of mind is attached to the other person. It could be between husband and wife, or parents and children, or even amongst friends, but is this emotional attachment healthy and sustainable? How are we helping others and/or ourselves by simply mirroring their state of mind? We end up inadvertently hurting people in the process.
Likewise, it’s only when we are attached to others that they have the power to inadvertently hurt us, and we end up implicitly sending them negative thoughts rather than sending them our love. We become attached to their behaviors and expectations as to how they should be, which causes us to leave no room for acceptance — the absence of which causes pain. When they do something that makes us worry, we make them worry more by default. It’s unbelievable how much pain, worry, and anxiety we can cause our own family members by being attached to their state of mind. We are not doing them any favors.
Sometimes, we are reluctant to “detach” ourselves from people because we fear we may alienate them when we go on a spiritual path. Contrary to popular belief, detachment is not about withdrawing from the world (moving away from people) or physically distancing yourself from it. It’s about removing ourselves emotionally from other people.
Violence cannot be overcome with violence nor can grief be overcome by grief. It can only be overcome with love. It’s only when we remove ourselves emotionally from that unhealthy state of mind that we help the other person come out of that state. We need to use our healthy state of mind to pull others out of their sorrows. This is detachment. It means having unconditional love, respect, and acceptance for others, while attachment causes pain, insecurity, and rejection. The latter brings sorrows with it. We mistakenly think of attachment as love, but it is anything but.
We need to detach ourselves from situations in order to survive, let alone thrive. We can’t help others without helping ourselves first. When we are attached, we want others to change, be it people or situations. It’s only when we are withdrawn and detached that we are ready to change. The one who withdraws or detaches says, “I am ready to change”. It’s only then that we can let go of things weighing us down, but more on that in another draft.
In order to be detached, we don’t have to leave our homes or physically distance ourselves from the world. We need to detach ourselves while being with others in the real world; whilst loving, respecting, and accepting them for who they are. Here are some ideas for detaching ourselves in our everyday lives:
Spend some time in solitude every morning. We need to spend 15-30 minutes of meditation first thing every day so we can detach ourselves from the situations and people around us and practice soul consciousness to connect to ourself and to the Divine. If we can do this in the morning, the rest of the day becomes relatively easier.
Take 5 minutes every hour to pause and check in with yourself. Remind yourself you are a divine and peaceful soul. We create this thought in our mind to be in soul consciousness and to come back to our actions. This increases our power to detach over time.
We can empathize with others without getting attached to their state of mind. This is harder in practice than it sounds.
We need to stop attaching ourselves to situations and people. The situation at hand may be challenging, but we need to remind ourselves to remain stable. Our actions and behaviors are not dependent on the actions of others. We cannot let our state of mind be at the mercy of our situations.
Detachment is in the mind. It’s not physical detachment by moving away from people as it’s commonly made out to be. It’s being untouched by situations and people while being with them. We need to keep increasing our power to detach at all times. The more detached we become, the more sacred and divine we become, and the more we will be able to nurture others because our love, respect, and acceptance for others is unconditional. We need to keep giving to everyone all of the time. We cannot be dependent on the behavior of others.