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Meditation is a powerful tool to help you improve your life.
To use this tool, you need to learn some skills. As with any skills, they take time, practice and patience to master. Once you learn these skills, you can then apply them into your daily life.
In this video, I am going to talk about the skill that I call Buddhist detachment.
Be quiet, observe and accept.
One of the purposes of meditation is to quiet your mind. Buy quieting the mind, you can to begin to hear the deeper parts of you. You will begin to free yourself from conditioned thinking and clean out the garbage that you have accumulated from the past.
Lets keep this simple. Be quiet. Just observe; don’t judge.
One of the goals of this type of meditation is to just be. Don’t do. Thinking is doing. Just exist.
When you are sitting in meditation, you are learning to quiet your mind by simply observing the feeling of your breath going in and coming out of your nose. Your breath is the anchor in this process.
As you sit, many thoughts and feelings will arise. Just observe them. Don’t react to them. This is the core of Buddhist detachment.
Imagine that your life is a movie. Instead of being one of the characters in the film, when you meditate, you are stepping out of screen and become one of the members of the audience watching yourself.
Now your perspective is different. You can see things as an audience member that you could never see being in character. You get a much broader view. You view yourself, the other characters and the plot in a new light. By looking at the situation from the outside, you are not so attached to the outcome.
Buddha, the great meditation teacher, taught that our suffering is caused our attachment to our desires (the things we want) and our aversions (the things we don’t want).
We either cling to the people, things and ideas we want, or push away the things we don’t want, such as pain.
Detachment is ridding ourselves of this clinging or craving. It is not apathy.
According to Alexander Berzin:
Being detached does not mean that we cannot enjoy anything or enjoy being with anyone. Rather, it refers to the fact that clinging very strongly to anything or anyone causes us problems. We become dependent on that object or person and think, "If I lose it or cannot always have it, I am going to be miserable." Detachment means, "If I get the food I like, very nice. If I do not get it, okay. It is not the end of the world." There is no attachment or clinging to it. (1)
So, as we sit in meditation, thoughts and feelings will arise. We have been conditioned since childhood to be attached to these thoughts and feelings. We don’t want to let go of them. Yet, these thoughts and feelings are our chains of enslavement. Remember, you are more than your mind. Buy clinging to old thoughts and feelings, we don’t leave any room for new ones, and we block out a wealth of information that comes to us from beyond our thoughts.
The solution to this problem is to simply observe your thoughts and bring your attention back to your body via feeling your breath. The thoughts will still flow -- simply observe them while your attention is back on the feeling inside your nose.
For example, maybe I have a memory about my brother stealing my favorite toy away from me when I was a small child. If I am emotionally attached to that thought, then I might become upset and starting thinking about the other times when my brother treated me poorly. Then I might feel resentment toward him. Then I might fantasize about getting revenge against him, and so on.
Yet, if I am not attached. I think: “I just had a memory of when by brother stole my favorite toy away from me when we were kids.”
Non-attachment breaks the cycle of conditioned response. I may improve my relationship with my brother because I am no longer holding on to a resentment from 40 years ago.
This is just one small example of the changes that can occur when we step away from our conditioned thinking.
Acceptance of what is is the way that we apply this in daily life.
“Look at the world the way that it is, not the way that you want it to be.”
Remember this phrase. It is important.
Our egos want the world to be just like it is in our minds. Well, it isn’t. The world is a vast, amazing and complex place. Our egos look at the world and judge it. When the world doesn’t fit the model we have built in our head -- our egos get very upset.
By viewing the life in a detached manner, we can seeing things clearly, not being clouded by our egos. Then we can choose to take appropriate action, or not.
In Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, there is a prayer that is often recited which follows this principle. It is called the Serenity Prayer. It goes like this:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
When you start observing the world from a detached point of view, you are no longer held hostage by your ego and your feelings. This does not mean that you should repress your feelings or not feel them. You should feel them fully, but you should not be controlled by them.
I will talk about this more in detail in a later video.
As with anything, have some perspective.
I am not a Buddhist, although, I have gained great benefit in my life from the ideas of Buddhism, from the practice of meditation and from the skill of detached observation.
I don’t think that meditation and Buddhist detachment are the be-all, do-all or end-all. But they are very powerful tools for your tool belt. That is why they are usually the first things that I teach people. As always, you have to use the right tool for any given job.
Being detached is kind of like being Mr. Spock on Star Trek. He approaches life in a cool, detached, logical manner. But remember, he works the best with the passionate Captain Kirk at his side.
So, today we are working on our Inner Vulcan.
If you would like to learn more or if you will like help improving your life from this sort of perspective, you can contact me at PaulCrouse.com
I am Paul Crouse. Thank you. Live long and prosper