A while ago I received this question from one of our students who was concerned that she might be becoming a bit detached from life as a result of meditation. This is a common experience in relatively new meditators as they very quickly learn that control and attachment are not helpful.
Question: I’m noticing that I’m not feeling attached to things, events or people in the same way and this is making me feel a bit disconnected. Is this due to meditation? Am I becoming detached in a way that means I don’t care?
My answer: In a world that is constantly changing, we are taught from an early age to try to control and to hang on (often for dear life). Control and attachment are the M.O of a society that functions on fear and stress. Without a stable connection to what the laws of nature are up to it is understandable that we feel unsafe, ‘out of control’ and alone. And so we try to keep the world around us stable through non-change. We attach ourselves to beliefs, habits, people, behaviours and thoughts because this gives us some sense of stability – however flawed we know this idea to be.
However when we learn how to practise Vedic Meditation we are trained to do the very opposite – we learn how to LET GO.
When we learn to meditate the very first thing we are taught is to favour a preference to think a meaningless sound and yet not to be attached rigidly to that preference.
Remember those first instructions of the teacher:
“If at any time you seem to be forgetting the mantra do not hold on, let it go”
There are those words – let it go.
Absolutely counter to everything we’ve been taught thus far!
And very quickly we become masters at letting go and not trying in our meditation. We learn this is the key to correct meditation. Do not get attached to any particular outcome. Don’t try to organise a particular result – let go and let nature handle the details.
We can try and resist this in the early days. Every meditator does to some extent. However resistance is futile earthling! Resistance to letting go simply results in a headache and an ongoing sense that something else should be happening in the 20 minute sitting.
If you have had (or are having) the thought that “something other than what is happening in my meditation should be happening” then you are trying to control the result to some extent. There’s a bit more letting go that needs to happen. And it will.
Because as meditators we learn how futile and exhausting it is to try and control everything.
So when we learn to let go in meditation we develop the ability to let go outside of meditation. This is a great skill of life.
In the beginning some meditators describe this letting go as a feeling of detachment.
However it is not detachment at all. This is a very important point: non-attachment does not equal detachment.
It is a lack of attachment to control. It is a lack of attachment to the idea that things should be playing out ‘my way’ – according to my view of timing, events, circumstances and with people behaving as I would like them to.
When we let go of the need to control we start to live our life with greater acceptance of what is actually going on. It is a fact that as consciousness grows one’s ability to accept grows. This is the true opposite of control. We learn to see the bigger picture and our role in that rather than feeling like some helpless victim of circumstances who must try and survive by hanging on and attaching as best we can.
We soon find that when we take all the energy that went into trying to make things happen our way we can use it for the far more productive and important action of paying attention and staying alert to what it is that nature is up to, right now, right here. We then make ourselves available for whatever is most evolutionary in the moment.