I have watched myself get “hooked” a lot in the past week. Hooked by certain people, certain words directed my way, certain slow moving children when we are already running late, certain tense environments where I literally feel the anger and unspoken words. I am sensitive, and tend to feel everything, including the emotions of others and the energy of a space, or a moment.
Because of my tendency to “soak it all up” (whether it be good or bad), I’m constantly needing to practice detachment. In the Bhagavad Gita, it is clearly taught that we must “learn to act with a spirit of detachment, being equal to success or failure”. Such evenness of mind, the Gita reminds us, is called yoga.
This type of detachment isn’t about being aloof, distant, stoic, cold, or numbed out. Rather, it is being so awake and alive that you are rooted in the body, connected to your core, and observing what is unfolding in the outside world while remaining calm and neutral. In essence it’s the practice of being present for everything but hooked by nothing.
That’s not to say we won’t ever get hooked. We can cruise through life not letting anything touch us, but if we really want to live fully, be in genuine relationships with others, love deeply…we will have the experience of being provoked. This is universal. Yet, the more we commit to being grounded in our bodies, and connected to our core, detachment is possible.
One of my teachers was once asked the question, “As I keep doing yoga, I find myself so much more sensitive, and feel myself at times overwhelmed by the intensity of the world around me. What do I do?” I waited with baited breath for my teacher’s answer, because I so related to the question. His reply: “If you are connected to your core, no matter how sensitive you are, you will not get thrown off course by the world around you.”
It’s seems the key part is connection to our core, which in essence, is connection to our self. The core is the location of the 3rd chakra, which is related to self-esteem, identity, realization of one’s true power. By connecting to the core of the body we in turn connect to the core of the self. If we can experience stability and strength in the core, what is happening outside begins to be experienced as neutral. In essence, deep connection to self happens first, before our ability to detach from the chaos of the world is possible.
There is a a shortage of people connected to their core self. I would dare say that 90% of the world is walking around pretty disconnected and detached. Add alcohol, food, electronic devices, or anything else of an addictive nature, and we all detach pretty quickly. Our culture has a obsessive way of “zipping out of the body”. At the far end of the spectrum, psychologists call this “dissociation” and it often happens in those have endured a major trauma. The detachment much of the world engages in comes across more as being aloof, standoffish, distant, detached, too busy to engage, unapproachable. This kind of detachment is disconnection from body, self, others, the world. And, it’s not helpful, healthy, or life enhancing.
The kind of detachment I’m working toward is a deep connection and strength that I viscerally feel in my body and emotionally feel in my core, that keeps me connected to my intuitive self and allows me to not be hooked or swayed or thrown off by what crosses my path. I still have work to do to reach a place where I respond the same to success or failure, but I’m grateful to know that the Gita teaches detachment will rise naturally with extended practice. Isn’t that the answer for everything? Keep practicing. Keep practicing. Keep practicing.