Detachment: More to it than meets the eye

Vaidy Bala
Jul 2 · 3 min read

Compassion, Discipline, Gratitude and Detachment are some virtues that are worth practicing every day.

Among those, I found Detachment the most elusive, in terms of daily practice.

How should one practice Detachment? At the most obvious level, we can lead a more minimalistic lifestyle.

- We can consume a bit less of everything.
- We can collect and hoard less.
- We can accept that we can’t own anything permanently. When we leave this world, we leave empty-handed.

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Unfortunately, that’s only the beginning :). Here’s a passage from Eckart Tolle’s “A new earth”:

“Renunciations of possessions, however, will not automatically free you of the ego. It will attempt to ensure its survival by finding something else to identify with, for example, a mental image of yourself as someone who has transcended all interest in material possessions, and is therefore superior, is more spiritual than others.

There are people who have who have renounced all possessions but have a bigger ego than some millionaires. If you take away one kind of identification, the ego will quickly find another.”

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Tolle continues with this explanation:

“If you take away from kind of identification, the ego will quickly find another. It ultimately doesn’t mind what it identifies with, as long as it has an identity…….

….making yourself right and others wrong is one of the principal egoic mind patterns, one of the main forms of unconsciousness.”

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When I read the above passage, I see myself doing exactly that: Judging others thinking I’m better than them.

Now that I realize what I’ve been doing, I want to take the next step and get over this pattern of thought.

But I find it much harder than living a minimalistic lifestyle.

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Here’s some good news though: If you look closely, you’ll notice that this is just another form of “attachment”. A thought pattern that we unknowingly cling to, because it makes us feel good in the short term.

The question then is this: How do we cultivate detachment from such thought patterns?

If you guessed that the answer is “meditation”, kudos to you :)

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I’ve been meditating consistently for over 50 days now.

What is meditation? It's simply the process of observing our thoughts with as much awareness as we can muster.

Some of those thoughts may make us jealous, sad, angry or even hungry :).

Some of them may be interesting. And others boring. Some of them we may care about, and others we couldn’t care less.

But they’re all thoughts that come and go as they please.

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What I realized during my practice was this: The thoughts that I’m more attached to — I get carried away by them more than by other thoughts, that I have little or no identification with.

Here’s the clincher: The process of meditation teaches us to see all thoughts as just that — thoughts. Think of it as seeing bubbles of various sizes and shapes floating through the air.

When we do this for a while, the process of detachment with thought patterns starts to kick in. Our mind slowly stops unconsciously clinging to negative patterns.

That in turn can help us avoid becoming judgemental of others - when we get out of meditation and back into “life”.

Vaidy Bala

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Founder @ — A digital marketing platform for yoga centers. I write about Yoga, life, product management, and entrepreneurship.