I have long been a practitioner of meditation and in recent years of a specific form of meditation called Vipassana. Most the techniques I have studied and/or practiced have their roots in Buddhist philosophy. One of the core tenets of these teachings is that of “detachment.”
Most people get the concept wrong when they think of it. Most dictionaries will define the term as a state of being “aloof” or “objective.” That’s certainly true, but in a meditative sense, detachment isn’t about being indifferent – it’s about being unattached to outcome.
I read a great article this morning titled “The real meaning of Buddhist detachment & why most of us get it wrong“ by Lachlan Brown on HackSpirit about this very concept. The article is linked HERE.
As I read it, I started to feel better about a few things. For the past few days, I have felt very detached from things that have normally drawn me in. At first, I was alarmed that I was becoming indifferent and exhibiting some kind of psychological disorder. But today I feel differently. Many of these moment, even some while typing up this post, are not coming from a place of avoidance or negativity. Rather, I think I am finally getting back in touch with some of my mindfulness training.
I find myself sometimes in the middle of a task just stopping and staring off into the distance with no specific thoughts. In meetings, where I have often felt the need to say things or remind people that I am there, I have simply been quiet and listened carefully – saying nothing unless directly addressed. I have stopped checking social media almost entirely, just posting what I feel strongly about and then walking away. I have moved my “home office” into the kitchen where I can sit in the sunlight and hear the sounds of my neighborhood. At times, I just stop and allow the warmth to permeate my body and I listen carefully to all the sounds around me.
I don’t feel rushed to get anything done. Yes, I have deadlines at work – but they are mostly self-imposed and artificial. I won’t miss any important deadlines, but I am also not stressing about getting anything done too quickly. I am answering emails as I feel the need and not feeling urgency to respond instantly to everyone and everything. That goes for text messages and other forms of communication as well.
Mindfulness has become kind of a “catch phrase” in the past few years, and I think many people now dismiss the concept since it’s been bandied about so much – often incorrectly. For me, it’s a simple concept. The only moment we have is “now.” That’s it. The past is over, the future hasn’t happened yet. We only have this single moment, then it will be over and we move on to the next one, and so forth.
My mindfulness practice reminds me to pay attention to things in the moment whenever possible. Sure, I get distracted and focus on “what ifs” and future things. Yes, at times I find myself ruminating about the past and beating myself up with “I should have” and “I should not have” kind of thoughts. I’m human and I am going to have those times when I totally forget to pay attention to what’s going on right now.
But more and more – especially lately – I have returned to an understanding of self-care. Part of that self-care is to stop freaking out about uncertainty. In the SpiritHack article, Lachlan Brown uses the following quote:
When nothing is certain, everything is possible.
I had to let that one sink in a bit, but once I really embraced it I began to understand just what is shifting for me during this period of isolation/quarantine/uncertainty. I am finally beginning to understand just what is important for me. More, I am finally beginning to very slowly peel away the layers I have put over my hopes and dreams and passions. I am starting to see glimmers of vision about where I want to focus my energy as I move forward.
Although I may appear aloof to others sometimes, I am far from that. I am intimately attached to life – just detached now from stressing about the future.
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.