“Detachment means letting go and nonattachment means simply letting be.” — Stephen Levine
Letting go of thoughts or letting them “float by” is a useful skill for life.
Some thoughts aren’t worth dwelling on, and some thoughts do more harm when you hold on to them.
Practicing non-attachment can help you quiet your mind.
Non-attachment can also help you respond vs. react. You can use non-attachment to help you create a gap between the stimulus and your response.
In the book … And I Breathed: My Journey from a Life of Matter to a Life That Matters, Jason Garner shares a technique he uses to practice non-attachment and master meditation.
A Fork in the River of Non-Attachment
Imagine a free-flowing river, where your thoughts float by.
Notice your thoughts, but don’t react to them.
“To help myself, I developed an image with which I would start my meditation.
I would close my eyes, envision a wise-looking Chinese man, like Confucius, sitting on the bank in between a fork in the river, with the river running on either side of him.
Instead of water, the river was made up of thoughts.
This wise Chinese man (my mind) simply looked at each thought as it floated by and said gently ‘hmm.’
A thought floated by … ‘hmmm’ … another … ‘hmm.’ Never engaging or resisting.
Calmly observing the presence and letting it pass by with a simple ‘hmmm.’”
A Visual Representation of Non-Attachment and Surrender
It might sound silly, but sometimes silly works. What’s important is finding what works for you.
“As silly as it sounds, this imagery worked for me.
It was a visual representation of non-attachment and surrender I could clearly understand.
After a few moments of doing this, I would settle into a peaceful state and enjoy a magnificent meditation.
Over time those moments went from seconds to a minute, and, with more practice, to more and more minutes.”
Let Your Thoughts Float on By
Don’t hold on to your negative thoughts. Let them float on by.
“What I asked Guru Singh how to deal with a thought I didn’t like, he would say: ‘
What do you do when you see a billboard you don’t like? Do you take a picture and carry it around with you?
You see it and then you drive on by.’”
Sometimes the right metaphor or imagery can be just what you need for your own, personal breakthrough.
Enjoy your river of thoughts, and enjoy a new level of non-attachment.