Friday, May 11, 2012

Find a Way to Detach — It's a Key Survival Tool

     "Don't waste time," concluded a reading at this morning's meditation group. One of the members of the group found the phrase  harsh and prescriptive, unusual in the Zen tradition. Another became embroiled in thought. "How do you know if you're wasting time? Is being a couch potato wasting time? That really worries me. I must waste a lot of time." Others mentioned a myriad of time-wasters and lots of negative self-talk followed — an unusual outpouring for this group of women, who all aim to be non-judgmental and non-reactive to themselves and others.

     Detachment is one of the most effective techniques to eliminate or reduce NST; a form of psychological distancing which can take many forms. Meditation is one effective form of creating distance, by strategically allocating attention AWAY from negative self-talk and self-criticism, from the noise of the outside lawnmower, from mental pictures of traumatic memories, or any thoughts interfering with being "in the moment" and attending to breathing. Meditation is also a useful tool for stress reduction.

There are lots of ways to detach in addition to meditation: distraction, diversion, visual images for sending unwanted thoughts or pictures into outer space, turning the volume down on your self -talk, counting from 1 to 1000 by even or odd numbers. Allocating your attention to something other than negative, stressful thoughts, events.

 How do you detach?  If you don't own a method of getting psychological distance, find  at least one that works for you — even watching TV mindlessly. The goal is to be able to return to your stress, your problem, and be able to view it differently as a result of getting distance from it. Yes, the source of the stress will still be there, but you will have robbed it of power by inattention.

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