The Gift Of Detatchment

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you"


One of the many benefits of meditation is that it gives us the opportunity to develop our mental muscles of detachment. The brain is a muscle like any other in the body. The more we exercise it the more it develops.So every time our mind wanders in our prayers and our meditations, and we gently bring it back to focus on our breathing, or on a zikr like namaz, we are actually strengthening our ability to detach; detach from our thought stream and from this world. When we experience suffering, we tend to attach to it and keep telling ourselves negative stories in our minds, that is what seems to prolong and compound it. If we are able to detach, we could perhaps see a bigger picture, perhaps we could remind ourselves that Allah never wishes evil for us, and even if we have done it to ourselves, or it is in the result of another's doing, it can only happen with Allah's permission. He will have hidden some benefit for us even in our mistakes and can change our mistake to something beautiful, if we can manage our response and our attitude to the challenge. This can come through detachment. Interestingly, this even applies to our blessings.

Robert Thurmen in his book "Inner Revolution" says blessings have 2 qualities that can lead to suffering:

-They are addictive. -They are transient or short-lived.

This brings back the concept of attachment, if we get attached, i.e. addicted to the blessing, then when it leaves or changes (as do all things in this world) it becomes a cause of suffering for us. As Allah says in Surah Fajr:

"And as for man, when his Lord tries him, then treats him with honor and makes him lead an easy life, he says: My Lord honors me. But when He tries him (differently), then straitens to him his means of subsistence, he says: My Lord has disgraced me."

(Surah Al-Fajr, Verse 15-16) (English - Shakir) Both the withholding and the bestowals are all trials. Trials that hold within them the potential for our improvement. Everything we have, which we call our own is actually His, and all that he gives or withholds will only be for our good, if we can simply detach, step back and look at past events without colouring our perspective with emotions and attachments.

“A memory without the emotional charge is wisdom.”

Dr. Joe Dispenza

It is then through detachment we are able to develop the wisdom we need to have a better outlook when faced with challenges in life.

A quote by Imam Ali (a.s) that keeps resonating, especially in these times:

"Aim to live in this world without allowing the world to live inside you, because when a boat sits on water it sails perfectly, but when water enters inside it, it sinks"

Maybe if we can develop this kind of detachment, we may be able to develop our connection with Allah , a connection that can help us to work towards attaining the soul at rest, mentioned in Surah Fajr.

يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً O soul that art at res" "Return to your Lord, well-pleased (with him),well-pleasing Him

Like that of our Prophet (S.A.W) and Imams, who, despite suffering and trial had that "mutmain nafs", Their soul was at peace and always pleased with Allah. They were able to detach and look beyond the physical manifestations of this world and see the reality of the beauty, mercy and love of Allah, in all things.

A beautiful meditation that reminds how even our breath teaches us the lesson of detachment.

Article inspired by lectures and discussions by Shazia Haji, and the following quote:

“Our pains are sufferings, obviously. Our ordinary pleasures seem the opposite, but the seeker of enlightenment knows that they bring suffering by being fleeting and addictive, leaving us more discontent when we lose them than if we never had them" -Robert Thurman, Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Real Happiness

Article Contributed by Saleha Haji

Just an ordinary person  who loves reading and tech. A mom of 3 who took a course in Arabic grammar and also ended up teaching that course for a while. Came across meditation as a result of online reading and it quickly became a part of my life. I try to meditate whenever I can as helps me to  navigate through life better, to be able to better manage my responses and attitude to the challanges of daily life . It helps me understand myself better. 

"What you seek is within you if you only reflect" Imam Ali

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