6 Thought Pills On Practicing Detachment
Where do you go when you take a step back to find peace
I don’t think it’s ever possible to avoid pain or feeling hurt. We can’t avoid disappointments and failures.
In fact, it’s these things that create balance in our lives. So, when I write about detachment, I don’t see it as a way to avoid pain. It is not a form of denial either.
Rather, I see it as a way of forming strength needed to gracefully move through the highs and lows of life alike.
The path to avoid disappointments in life looks like this — Do nothing. Feel nothing. Give yourself into nothing.
But, to bounce to great heights we must be capable of accepting the pain that might come from venturing whole-heartedly into our life’s greatest passions.
I wrote a piece about why it is important to practice detachment a few weeks back which was widely read and a lot of people related to it. This is a follow up article, in which I have shared a few lines of thoughts and practices that I find most useful when trying to practice detachment in my own life.
1. Connecting to the ‘core’ of you
Understanding yourself isn’t easy. We are constantly being changed and influenced by people and circumstances around us. Hence, to answer ‘Who we really are’ is a very difficult question.
However, if we don’t ask this question often enough and if we don’t spend enough time with ourselves we might start becoming exactly what people/circumstances shape us to be.
We could go on trying to attach ourselves to things like money, relationships, work or anything else for that matter and let that define us. And while that will seem comfortable while all is good, a severe blow to any of those things could expose our own fragility and bring us down to our knees.
That lack of connection with our own being is the fundamental reason behind why we attach ourselves too closely to anything and why it always hurts so badly when things go wrong.
So what exactly is the ‘core’ of you?
I wish I could answer that for you but only you can do that for yourself. I can only tell you what defines the core of me.
Ever since I was young, I have loved writing as it always helps me connect to a deeper part of myself and get a better clarity of everything. It helps me find answers to my problems. Most importantly, it gives me a great feeling of satisfaction.
However, there are days when I find it extremely hard to write even a single paragraph. Those are the days I feel disconnected to the ‘core’ of me.
Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable to connect with that side of yourself because of a sense of discomfort and restlessness within. It could be attributed to certain things not going the way they should.
Sometimes we tend to shove down this feeling of discomfort by finding temporary happiness through the various ways of attachment only to find it return and resurface time and again.
Our ‘core’ has immense wisdom which senses all changes and influences in our lives. It is giving us hints about whether they are good for us or not. But we must tune in once in a while to listen to what it says.
So, the idea is that there must be something in your life that keeps bringing you back often to that ‘core’ of you.
But how do you do that?
2. A place for your mind
When I went through a phase of major depressive disorder last year, I read every possible article I could lay my hands on about brain science and psychology. Not only that, I read books like ‘A road less travelled’ by practicing psychotherapist M. Scott Peck and ‘The Brain — The Story of you’. I also did a very interesting course on Psychology by Yale University.
My most important learning from all of that was that according to science, there is no separate concept of ‘body’ and ‘soul’. In fact, most of the times when we are referring to our soul or to our heart, we are indeed referring to our brains.
All our emotions are experienced in the brain. Everything you experience is a wonderful play of various chemicals and hormones.
But why am I talking about it?
Because, your ‘core’ is essentially your ‘subconscious mind’.
“You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of identity and free will are no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells. As Lewis Caroll’s Alice might have phrased it ; ‘You are nothing but a pack of neurons’”
So, if you intend to take care of your ‘core’ and connect to it, then you need to connect with your ‘brain’ and form a practice for your mental well-being.
It’s only much later that I found out why exactly writing was such a fulfilling experience for me. Turns out that our brain is often like too many internet tabs open at once. It is a madhouse of distraction. Now, more than ever before, we juggle too many thoughts at the same time.
Writing helps me give a form to my ideas and get them out of my head, freeing up bandwidth and preventing me from crashing my brain’s browser.
What could be that one place for your mind? The place where you can tune in to your frequency, disconnect with the world and find completeness and solace within yourself. You must find that for yourself.
For some people it’s their prayer or meditation routine, for some it’s their fitness routine, for others it might be some sort of creative routine.
Even if you have no such place for your mind, I am sure there must be something that you feel inclined towards. Maybe that’s something that your brain is hinting at. Try pursuing it and see if it helps you tune into yourself better.
3. Delayed Gratification
We just don’t do it. Do we?
The things we know that we must do. Things like I mentioned in the above point. Things we know that are really really good for us.
Why? Because there are always those other things to do which are probably more interesting and provide us with instant happiness. Our brains love that instant happiness.
It is always and always tricking us into choosing the easy path. And there is only one thing that you need to practice in your lives to master the art of detachment and that is ‘delayed gratification’. And this is one of the hardest things to learn.
Writing is a very hard process for me. Because it requires connecting a lot of disconnected thoughts together and making sense out of them. It requires providing structure to the chaos. It’s a lot of work.
Even though I might get appreciated for it later but while I am writing something, there is no surety of it turning out to be a good read. In fact, I might never even publish it. That’s why my brain likes to avoid it. Just like everything else that requires a lot of work to be done before getting any significant results.
That’s why you trick yourself out of your morning workout, out of your evening walks, out of your meditation routine. We all do that.
Either we will tell ourselves that we are busy or we will find happiness in something temporary.
But if we don’t teach our brain delayed gratification, we never let it grow.
So, it will turn into a spoilt child never listening to you and always demanding things from you. Things like your next shopping spree, more love and time from your partner, more mindless scrolling, binge watching or just anything for momentary feeling of fulfilment.
Fitness enthusiasts practice delayed gratification through the discipline they follow in their workouts and diets. Artists and writers practice delayed gratification by devoting hours to creation. Meditation is another profound way to practice delayed gratification.
Gradually, practicing delayed gratification will help you let go of impulses and attachments. It will help you avoid unhealthy behaviours such as compulsive buying, indulging in alcohol, falling in temporary meaningless relationships and help you live more meaningful lives.
It’s a choice that we face every day. You can choose to have something now, or you can choose to have something bigger or better at a later time.
We only turn to other things and other people when we feel incapable of finding happiness and contentment within ourselves.
What if we could really tell ourselves things we wish to hear from others?
If we could learn to overcome the battle that opposing thoughts rage in our minds, perhaps we would not need to attach ourselves too closely to anything that gives us the validation that we fail to give to ourselves.
Self-validation is about accepting our own internal experience, our thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes, we have a hard time accepting ourselves and that might stem from the feeling of wanting to be a better version of ourselves.
Growing mentally, physically and spiritually is something that every single person desires and an immense feeling of self-validation comes from taking action on it.
Ensuring that we are taking even the smallest steps towards these aspects of our lives can give us a huge sense of contentment and peace. It’s the strongest armour that you can build to fight against your greatest insecurities and fears.
5. Getting out of your own head
Here are a few signs that might imply that you are too attached to your own thoughts — You are easily offended. You take things too personally. You laugh too little. You have a tunnel vision about things. You are only comfortable in the little world of yours that you have built around yourself.
Getting out of your own head requires you to let go of some really strong biases and thought patterns that you hold on to. It requires you to challenge your own thoughts and ideas by venturing out and experiencing different sides of life and interacting with different kinds of people.
There are just so many things in this world to be explored and there is always limitless potential to grow. However, if you confine yourself into that small space inside your head, chances are that you will always be missing out on all of that.
And then gradually, you begin to fear what you don’t understand. Every day you fail to make a conscious effort to get out of your own head, you keep getting trapped.
Then there might be a day when it becomes just too hard for you to dare to venture out. Let that not happen to you.
Think consciously about what new things you can say yes to. Is there an interesting learning experience that you can sign up for? Think about how you can learn more from the sort of people you look upto? How can you engage in more meaningful conversations? How can you consciously fight falling into unhealthy thought loops by taking action?
The answers will be different for different people.
For me reading books is something that works the best. Other things that work for me include spending time working on interesting projects at work with really smart people and learning completely new kinds of skill-sets that require me to venture out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.
6. Diving into your inner pool of potential
There is this particular quote that always stays with me.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
I think it’s very true. All of us are capable of doing great things with our lives and deep down we are aware of the limitless power inside us.
In fact, our deepest regrets come from not using that power enough. The statements that involve the word ‘could have’ are the most heart-breaking and we must try to live in a way that we don’t count look back and say ‘I could have’
I was afraid of writing. I used to ask so many people before pressing the publish button. Deep down, I was always aware about that intense desire within me to help people and inspire them through my writings. I knew I could do it. Still, I was quite afraid to do it.
When last few articles of mine went viral over the internet and I received about a hundred personal messages of gratitude from people from across the world, I realised for the first time what it meant to get results from diving into that inner pool of potential, the potential that I was always afraid of.
I realised what it felt to be a part of a higher purpose.
It was an overwhelming feeling. But more importantly, I discovered a powerful connection with myself that is now stronger than any other form of attachment in my life.
It’s this connection with myself that I can come back to every time I want to disconnect from things and take a step back.
To practice detachment every once in a while, we need to build our own happy place of joy and contentment where we can come to find solace. A place where we can channel all of our energies, the good and the bad, and release them into the world.
Because your world is a reflection of your state of mind, only a peaceful mind can attract a peaceful life.