You and I get to hear the idea of detachment a lot more now, as it becomes mainstream in the spiritual community. But let’s address why it’s so difficult to detach ourselves.
The opposite of detachment is attached – most of us are very attached to our loved ones. But is there something wrong with that? There isn’t, until there is.
Attachment makes us go to strange lengths.
If the other person is mad at us, we become flustered and try to fix this.
If the other person is no longer in our life, we pine and make our life miserable.
We mistake our attachment for love. But the truth is, love and respect are not attachment. Attachment is attachment, in a relationship.
But is it even possible to be detached and still love somebody? Yes.
I realized this in the strangest way, through a stranger.
I used to be the person who loved too much. But over the years, I noticed myself distancing and no longer seeking love outwards. This was a good thing, but a recent incident made me see another angle to it.
One Sunday morning, at around 5 AM, I heard a girl yelling and crying down the street, “don’t leave me Mike, please! Don’t leave me”.
I was startled awake, and my first response was a grumpy “really?”
As the yelling continued, other thoughts flowed in.
Should I call the cops on her for creating a menace at 5 AM? What if she’s suicidal? And then…I hope the angels are protecting her.
As soon as I wished that for her, an image of the spiritual realm watching over her came in front of me. And for some reason, after crying for another minute or so, the girl left.
Prayer was not my first response, but it did teach me something new.
My “really?” moment might have boosted my ego, to think I’m so detached because I’m unaffected by this situation. But really, it was me closing my heart from a bigger fear that I shared with this stranger.
I didn’t want to be left either. And I couldn’t bear the thought, so I began to judge her for how she was handling this.
While she was down in the streets crying, I was in my ego, telling myself things like “I don’t need that person, why is she crying over someone who left her“.
She was vulnerable, perhaps too attached. But I wasn’t detached, I was simply acting indifferent.
Thus, detachment isn’t about not feeling pain. It is about being compassionate in the moment of pain, but not identifying with it.
I finally opened my heart, and allowed myself to experience the fear of being left. It was terrifying. But without resisting, I let the pain pass through.
But you may be at the opposite end of the spectrum. You might have a heart so open, you soak up the emotions that arise from attachment and become an emotional sponge! Let’s address that now.
Understanding Detachment Through The Attachment Lens
One day, in conversation with a friend, it felt as if a rush of answers came in the newest way, bringing clarity to the topic like never before for the both of us. I’m sharing the conversation as is, because the dialogue may make this more relatable.
The exchange about detachment went as follows.
But now going back [to favorite place] kind of changed things too.
Which made me question my decision to go back in the first place.
Like, should we just leave good memories pristine and untouched?
Because trying to live them again by going back only sort of tarnished it for me, as I saw everything having changed and worsened.
I think we go back because we want to relive the good times and we associate that place with good times.
So going is essential if you’re SO attached, so that you can release that attachment and keep it only as a memory.
All the while knowing happiness is an inside job. Not place-bound.
For me, [my favorite place] brought that same realization. It was special while I was there, not after I left.
So I guess I relinquished that attachment once I returned from this trip. Which I felt is a bad thing as it’s not as special to me anymore.
Well, essentially, nothing IS special, nor should be. It’s just a means for us to experience ourselves.
Whether through a place or a relationship.
What remains special to you, is attachment.
And thus we need to experience it fully, without clouded vision to be able to detach.
Usually going back to a person, or place, helps see clearly.
Free from that Illusion.
I think I’m so unwilling to detach because having those intense feelings for something makes me feel more human? As if I’ve experienced something worthy?
Isn’t that why we all are not willing to detach? We want something to cling to while we’re here.
Detachment doesn’t invalidate your experience though.
We cling if we want to be here.
We let go if we understand we’re not meant to be here forever.
I read yesterday.. someone said..
“There’s a difference between being grateful and glad.”
So I guess the idea is to always remain grateful, even if you can’t always be glad about an experience.
It’s shifting your anchor from down here on Earth, to up there, into the universe.
I understand that.
But even people who don’t, why do you think they don’t give up attachments easily? As in, not even intentionally.
For the very reason that their anchor is on Earth.
They are too identified with their human nature to realize there’s nothing to cling on to.
The more you understand, the quicker you start to remember the truth. And start to practice it.
Every time you see a situation that makes you cling, you are able to think from the bigger picture.
So the reason I didn’t want to let go [of favorite place], is that I made it part of my identity?
You are limiting yourself, by saying it was the source of your happiness. Your source is inside you, that place only helped you realize it.
But instead, you started seeing that place as the Source itself, and ached to go back, instead of finding it in yourself again.
Though the conversation was with regard to emotional attachment towards a place, this is true for people too.
Our inability to part ways or mellow-down in relationships, stems from the fact that we start seeing them as the Source of our happiness.
But speaking spiritually, our happiness comes from the Universe. And the more we cling, attach, lean on this Universe, our true Source, the easier detachment becomes.
Hope this gave you the AHA-moment it gave us. 🙂
Many traits are associated with detachment, and tips are given to achieve this way of being.
But the core essence of detachment can be understood as not depending on the other person for our source of joy; and in moments of suffering, seeing another’s pain with an open heart, without letting it get to us.
The more we understand the difference between detachment and indifference, the more we can retain our humanitarian aspect whilst walking towards our true self.
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