What is Detachment?

What is detachment? How is it helpful?

In the world of woo, detachment is often first encountered via Buddhism where it’s an important principle meant to release from desire and consequently from suffering. I find this area of Buddhist thought to be a bit of a drag, it’s a whole lot about releasing desire, which I think is a ridiculous thing to do.

No longer having desire is a symptom of depression. Desire provides direction. Direction to joy if you do it right. Reflect on why you desire things, fo sho, learn what truly gives you joy in this life. Be honest with yourself. And then desire away!

Desire. Want. Dream. Plan. Do.

*And then let go.*

That last bit is where detachment does its magic. Detaching from the outcome creates energetic space, allowing for openness and receptivity. Do the work, seek inspired actions, daydream about the most desired outcome–but that’s it.

Don’t think about how much you want it. Don’t focus on how you don’t have it. Don’t stew in how you are more deserving of it than someone else. Don’t place the ideal of your future happiness in it. Don’t pressure it. Leave it be.

Even wonderful outcomes are temporary, and every outcome leads to another one–sometimes you just gotta shrug and have faith that the right things are happening in perfect timing.

Or combat attachment with acceptance by embracing this mantra: it is what it fucking is.

How to dissolve cheap beer hiccups with meditation.

I’m sure I learned what meditation was sometime before college, but I didn’t spend much time absorbing the concept until then.  I had an Eastern Philosophy teacher that is still probably the most self-assured person I’ve ever met.

He genuinely did not give a shit about what anyone thought of him, as he said, “other people’s thoughts are none of my business”.  I found him to be hilarious, and always unintentionally so.  The best kind of funny.

He described the purpose of meditation as widening the gaps between thoughts to allow observation of the peaceful quiet that exists behind them, and to enjoy a more pleasant mindspace as a result.  He shut off the lights, had us put our heads in our folded arms, and asked us to focus on our breathing.  Whenever we had a thought we were supposed to acknowledge it without judgement, let it go, and return to our breathing.

Most of the time I thought about a guy, wondered if he liked me.  Thought about how cute he was.  Replayed our recent conversations.  I kept returning back to my breath just to have my mind pipe up again, “He’s so cute.  He reminds me of Floyd from Dazed and Confused…”

But then it happened, I thought—“…………..”, for a few solid seconds.

“Oh!  And that’s the same dude as in Out Cold!”—But it had happened, however briefly; I experienced my first sizeable gap between thoughts.  I wanted more of that peaceful feeling.  And, apparently, whoever that dude was.

Though I enjoyed the peace I discovered in that philosophy class…I lacked focus.  The first real application of meditation to my life was using it to get rid of the hiccups.  I drank a lot of cheap beer quickly in those days, so I’d get them pretty frequently.  At some point I realized that all of the solutions offered up (swallow a spoonful of sugar, stare at the ceiling whilst hopping on one foot, BOO!) were all just various ways of *not thinking* about the hiccups.

So I tried using meditation to do so, and low and behold – it works like a charm!  In those days most of my meditation was done in graffiti-covered bathroom stalls.  Focusing on my breath, calming my mind, and dissolving those cheap beer hiccups.