The Paradox of Detachment

DetachmentDetachment, often used in Buddhist teachings, implies being outside life, watching, disembodied. I believe this is a misunderstanding of the word’s deeper meaning.

From the teachings of the Alexander Technique, I’ve learned how to be in my body and mind and yet not let them run my life. In other words, I direct from the inside without being subject to mind/body habits. When emotions arise, I feel them without letting them turn into a soap opera. When confusion occurs, I allow its drama without getting lost in it. I am the conductor in tune with the instruments which are me! I believe this balance of control and freedom is the thin line Buddhism implies when suggesting detachment as a tool for awareness.

The “primary control” in Alexander’s teachings points to the same thing. Primary control allows the body’s natural awareness to help us stay in the present. Thus, when the hind brain (cerebellum*) which controls body awareness, is allowed a more leading position, the body is not befuddled by the activity of the thinking mind. This helps dissolve the mind/body illusion. Then, consciousness holds a central place within this physical/mental system, not counter to it or abusing of it.

This sense of detachment allows for the discovery of the higher self. Again, it is not a separate being or other self, but a description of where the true self seems to come from when it is balanced within the body.

Poise in the body and mind allows for better awareness of this seemingly “higher” self. In this sense, spirit is not a separate entity from mind and body, but a result of balance between them, a sympathetic vibration, if you will. When mind and body are present and poised, certain truths can then become self evident, such as the wisdom of being unattached to results and the finite nature of the body and mind. As these levels of understanding deepen, a feeling of spirit may arise, a sense of infinite freedom within a closed system.

* (from Brain Basics)The hind-brain includes the upper part of the spinal cord, the brain stem, and a wrinkled ball of tissue called the cerebellum (1). The hind-brain controls the body’s vital functions such as respiration and heart rate. The cerebellum coordinates movement and is involved in learned rote movements. When you play the piano or hit a tennis ball you are activating the cerebellum. The uppermost part of the brainstorm is the mid-brain, which controls some reflex actions and is part of the circuit involved in the control of eye movements and other voluntary movements.

6 thoughts on “The Paradox of Detachment

  1. Take a look at this article, Here and Now, Huxley on Alexander Technique – fits in with your post. It’s part of a very useful larger site.

  2. Pingback: Alexander Technique and Buddhist Thinking at Glittering Muse

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  4. I love the concept of ‘poise in the body and mind’. The word poise always has a feeling for me not only of balance, but of elegance, and ‘poise in the body and mind’ gives me a lot to ponder on.

    Wonderful article, and connected to some central core in me.

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