Detachment – ‘The root of suffering is attachment’


peaceThroughout our lives we take on many emotions, from fear to guilt then happiness and joy. Unfortunately, some people focus their thoughts and energy on the negative emotions causing anxiety, worry and even depression.

Learning detachment or non-attachment which is a state of mind where you detach from these situations will create a more meaningful life. In Buddhism it is to obtain a heightened perspective on life and the world around you.

Detachment or non-attachment doesn’t mean you don’t care or have compassion, it simply means that you don’t devote time and energy on things you have no control over.

By detachment I mean that you must not worry whether the desired result follows from your action or not, so long as your motive is pure, your means correct. – Gandhi

There are many different ways where we remain attached to situations, past events or relationships. In this post I’ll be talking about ‘Accepting and detaching from things we can’t control’.

We can’t change what’s happening on the other side of the globe, we can’t change past events or mistakes, and we can’t change how people react.

If we can’t change these things then holding on to the emotion surrounding them, is useless and will only create unhappiness and un-necessary stress in our lives.

Here are a couple of examples of what I’m referring to –

1. You watch the news and hear about a terrible human tragedy in another country. You feel compassion for the people who have been affected and maybe even anger at the injustice of it.

By allowing the tragedy to dominate your thoughts long after hearing about it, won’t change what has happened and will only serve to make yourself miserable. Unless you are in a position to help or make changes to the situation, then let it go, detach (you can still have compassion but don’t allow the event to dominate your thoughts and mind).

2. You are having a good day and feeling positive about yourself, and then someone says something rude or unkind to you. Suddenly, your good feelings turn into hurt, disappointment or anger and you let it ruin your whole day.

By allowing someone else’s opinion of you to ruin your day, you are giving away your power to them. Know that they are the one with the issue not you. When you can acknowledge this, you can then let it go and detach from the negative emotion.

How to detach or let go from things you can’t control. There any many different methods to do this and there is no right or wrong way, it’s what feels comfortable to you.

Practice mindfulness – there are many audio books and meditations that can help you with this, find one that you like and practice daily.

Monitor your thoughts – this means being consciously aware of your thoughts (to me, this is similar to practicing mindfulness). It’s hard at first but with practice it becomes easy. Whenever I find my thoughts focusing on past events, I mentally tell myself to ‘relax’. This stills my mind and I feel all the tension I created around the past event to wash away.

Try different approaches until you find one that resonates with you. Remember, it’s your life and only you can change it. You want inner peace in your life, then learn to detach from the things you can’t control.

The thoughts that dominate your mind, will become your belief of what’s true – Amanda Ray