Find Happiness 9: How to Detach Yourself from Your Thoughts

by Lucky Balaraman

dreamstime_9984107flock Imagine you’re sitting on a meadow looking at the sky and a flock of birds flies slowly across your field of vision. 

You watch the birds enter your view, keep watching as they cross it and then exit it.

There’s you, and there’s the birds. No question about that, right? You certainly don’t feel that the birds are part of you. They’re objects and you’re watching them. That’s VERY clear.

You might not realize it, but your thought process is remarkably similar…

 

Your thoughts are passing by in front of you and you’re only watching them. They’re objects, just like the birds. They are not you. They are the products of your brain.

A thought like, “I’m depressed” or “I’m so happy” is just like one of those birds. So is “What a lousy life I’m leading” or “Life is so cool!”

 

They’re all like those birds, and you’re watching them.

But all these days you felt those thoughts were “you.”

 

So how do you experience that you are separate from your thoughts and just watching them? Easy. 

  • Sit quietly somewhere, close your eyes and watch what’s going on in your head. As soon as you “think” something, try and locate the answer to the question, “Who was aware of that thought?” The answer is the basic “you”, and the result will be that you separate “yourself” from that thought.

  • Perform this process  on a daily basis on several thoughts (10 minutes a day will do). Gradually you will realize you are separate from all your thoughts; you will in other words realize that they are objects and you are an observer. Since emotions are nothing but thoughts, you separate yourself from them too. Since the basic “you” is separate from your emotions, it feels no sadness, happiness, frustration or any other emotions.

Sound dull? Not really. On the other hand, bereft of thoughts/emotions of all kinds, you are actually at perfect peace.

Please be aware that at no point am I saying that you should suppress your thoughts. Your thoughts should certainly keep flowing, only you should watch them like you watched those birds fly over your field.

 

This is the secret to being peaceful at all times. Try it, it really works!

 

To your peaceful life,


The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Christian October 15, 2014 at 11:07 am

Hello mr. Balaraman
My name is Ivan and I’m 24 years old. I do not know how to formulate what I want to share with you and I’ll try to be brief and clear. I think you’re an incredibly good man. I do not know, but the way you write and communicate with people is really great.
What I want to ask is – a year ago I had an affair with a girl who continued a year.Two months before the split she went to work in another country, but we decided to try to keep the connection.
During these two months a few times understand that it serves and she has met another boy. Unconsciously ask myself – “if she cheated on me?” This question provoked fear in me. After we broke this “If she cheat on me” became obsessive thought for me. Now afraid to have a girlfriend because constantly pops into my mind this thought.
What steps would you advise me to take to deal with accumulated stress and cope with the thought and fear?
Will really very happy if I get advice from someone like you.

Best regards, Ivan

Reply

Lucky Balaraman October 16, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Hello Ivan,

Nice to hear from you. Since your question is of a personal nature, I am going to respond to you by email. Please check your email after an hour to see my reply.

Cheers,

Lucky

Natalie September 26, 2014 at 6:08 am

Thanks this was helpful

Reply

jake June 23, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Hi i suffer from anxiety and depression… I got in a really good place once when i truly accepted that i had it. My thoughts would come and i would be able to seperate myself from them by saying things like ‘ah look a thought’ or ‘ i had a thought’something like that. The thoughts became fewer and less powerful each time and i felt in a place of complete bliss for about 3 months. However i now find myself in a mostly continuos cycle of anxiety and trying to get my head right. The thing is its not really thoughts as such that are driving me crazy its repetetive songs. I kno that the harder i try to get them to stop the longer they play and play until my head feels like its going to explode. Theres obviously thoughts connected to this as well. I was just wondering if anyone has any advice for me thank you xxx

Reply

Lucky Balaraman September 12, 2014 at 9:46 am

Hi,
Interestingly enough, I had the exact same problem many decades ago. As I continued to learn about my mind, the remedy became obvious and I am now immune to that situation.
The remedy is just to let the songs play and not try to do anything about it. Trust me, when you don’t do anything about it, it will stop in the course of time.

In general, if you have worrisome thoughts about your mind, relax and let them pass. Do not ‘feed’ them, just sit back in your head (in a figurative sense) and be a pure witness to them and all other thoughts, carrying out actions some of them may suggest only when you feel such actions are appropriate.

Give a good shot and you will definitely succeed. Sorry for my delay in replying, I have allowed you to suffer needlessly for two months!

GloryAnn Amaris BSW July 10, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Hi. I am pleased to know. I can get help. Ian in a difficult time in my life. My mother is in hospice late stages of Alzheimer. And pneumonia. She is a little better but I just know it is a matter of time
My 20 yr old daughter is doing her thing and no support in another state very far away with a crazy boyfriend. My 16 year
has given me so much support. He was acting out but he turned his life around he is compassion. My mother is dieing but memoridse killing me we were soclso close. How do I detach.I am suffering.

Reply

Lucky Balaraman July 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Your situation is indeed complex. You need to do many things at the same time to get in control.

Firstly, about Mom, you have done everything you can. You must now accept the situation. It is the will of the Universe; I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you must realize that it is for the best.

Keep giving your son and daugher advice. Ask other mature people to talk to them as well. Your daughter is an adult and is responsible for the road she travels. If she does not listen to you, she has only herself to blame.

Spend as much time as possible with your son.

Most importantly, spend 10 minutes a day in meditation, prayer or chanting.

Take action and you SHALL succeed!

Best,

Lucky

nicole June 28, 2013 at 1:36 am

Hi. You had mentioned first person thoughts. I have found myself identifying with such thoughts and you said that those thoughts speaking are not the Awareness. Does that mean that my basic nature does not speak or express? Thank you

Reply

Lucky Balaraman June 28, 2013 at 3:07 am

Hi Minnie,

I appreciate your question and your keenness to locate your inner peace. You are one of a fortunate few.

Yes. Your basic nature is a silent witness. Your thoughts and sensory inputs are what it witnesses.

Lucky

Lazy March 23, 2013 at 3:10 am

Hi lucky,

Ive been looking in to the idea of detaching from thoughts to deal with anxiety issues for a long time. First of all thanks for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us and thank you for being so supportive.

I have two questions:

1) while the idea of inhabiting the real you sounds amazing, I wonder, if you are treating all thoughts and emotions as separate from yourself (the real you) will you ever be truly happy? Are you not numbing yourself from pain and negative emotions etc but sacrificing any positive ones you may get? You would then not be miserable etc but you would not be happy either because you are simply observing things from a distance as opposed to basking in the joy of positive things? I guess I dont want to become an un-emotional robot!

2) my second issue is that I feel that my quest for detaching from thoughts has led me to to become very unsatisfied, constantly searching for the “right” way to train my brain etc. i feel i am not overloaded with different types of practices etc. I now wish to narrow it down to basics. Do you think that if I practice what you said above for 10 minutes a day then that is all I need and would be enough to quiten the mind and be more peaceful? If not what do you reccomend?

Thanks again! Looking forward to hearing from you!

Reply

Lucky Balaraman April 5, 2013 at 9:53 am

Hi Lazy,

About being a robot: Look, I was fully into scuba-diving into my emotions for several years. The happy moments were a blast but the “unhappy” ones really got me down, so much so that I resolved to find a way to rid me of them. After much searching, study and practice I found a solution that worked (am SO grateful to the Universe for it).

It all boils down to which state of mind is most satisfying. If you are happy riding your emotions like you would a roller-coaster, then maybe you should keep riding. If you feel more comfortable standing on the ground and watching the roller coaster, then maybe you should do that instead. I chose the latter position, and as far as I am concerned, it is a BILLION times better than the former. I will never, EVER go back to the former.

About training your brain: Don’t try making your mind behave this way or that. That’s a pain in the you-know-what. Take it easy. Just sit back and watch it. Let it think what it wants (there are no “good thoughts” or “bad thoughts”). If your thoughts suggest an action (like “I should turn my computer on now” or “I’d like to kiss/slap that person”) then decide whether you want to perform it or not. If you perform it, the suggestion will cease; if you do not perform it, the suggestion will persist (do not yield to it; it will give up and subside after a while).

About the ten minutes a day, this is to help you identify the “basic you”, which is the inherent state of inner peace we all possess. That done, you should increasingly try to reside in it as a sort of base of operations. It takes practice to do this, and your daily life is the best practice ground, specifically, times when you are disturbed or upset. In those circumstances, stay silent and count to ten, breathing deeply. Then remind yourself that whatever upset you were only thoughts, that they were like sounds coming out of a music player (your brain) and that they are not “you.” Then momentarily try and retreat into the “basic you” to reassure yourself that it is still there, unshakable, invincible, a witness to thought, separate from thought and unaffected by thought.

Keep doing this over time and you will gradually cease being disturbed by anything. You will be contented, calm and peaceful at all times.

Best,

Lucky

samrat December 23, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Hi,
Just stumbled upon you’r site. Let’s see…a thought comes to my mind.I stand aside and watch this thought. This ‘I’ is me and the thought is an object. Now isn’t this ‘I’ a thought too? So I stand back and become aware of this ‘I’ watching the thought. Now this I too is a thought. So I stand back and become aware of this I that is aware of the first I that is aware of the thought. Its like standing between two mirrors the reflections never end. Where does this lead me to???

Reply

Lucky Balaraman December 24, 2012 at 1:52 am

Wait a minute, wait a minute, Samrat… you took a wrong turn early in your question. The ‘I’ that watches thoughts is not a thought. It is a state of pure watchfulness. All thoughts occur in its presence. It is in everyone, including you. Locating it should be made a research project. It will take a while, but all those who keep at it, FIND IT!

Kristina March 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I find that whenever I drop the role of a thought-developer, become aware of the thoughts and step aside, the thought automatically disappears instantly, because there is no one to keep it alive. Then another thought pops up and I repeat the process. What keeps on happening is that I end up “killing” (sorry for such a harsh word) the thoughts with my so-called observation. I do it again and again many times a minute. I’m not sure if this is what is meant by “observing your thoughts”. I’d like to hear if anyone has been in a similar place.

Reply

Kristina March 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I guess what I’m trying to ask is, would it be possible to detach from thoughts without making them disappear and instead observe them developing? But who is going to develop them? I am a little confused…

Kristina March 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Another thing that interests me is what exactly is meant by thoughts. There’s this inner voice chatter, then there’s visual imagination in the mind’s eye, there’s sound creation/repetition in one’s mind. The one that is probably most worth addressing is the inner chatter. However, then there is a fourth one: plain emotional reactions to a situation without any thoughts. What do you do then? Imagine that you’re not the emotion, and that it’s only happening to your body and it will pass in a while, relax?

I’d appreciate some input from someone who’s been doing this for a while.

Lucky Balaraman March 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Hi Kristina,

I would like to question your basic process. You say you are “doing” something. The correct procedure is be a pure witness. If you are ‘doing’ something, please move back and motionlessly (mentally) witness all the ‘doing’, i.e. all the thoughts involved in the ‘doing’ process.

My hunch is that there are still many ‘first-person’ thoughts that you are not stepping back from. You are identifying with those thoughts; you think they are ‘you’ speaking. Realize that they too are thoughts, and that you are the one who is aware of them (just as in the case of other thoughts). Think long and deep about what I just said and try to understand it. Ask me for more guidance if you need to.

Gabe January 26, 2012 at 2:06 am

This all sounds good and all, and believe me, a definite step in the right direction to what I can hopefully call “enlightenment”, but shouldn’t being at peace make you happy? Isn’t happiness what enlightenment is all about? I guess what I’m asking is: Can you do this, and still hold on to the happiness, as if it’s a bird that you want to keep as a pet? Would it still work the same way?

Reply

Lucky Balaraman January 26, 2012 at 3:08 am

Gabe:

Being at peace IS the state of happiness. Being at peace means you realize that you are the backdrop in front of which thoughts are active, just like the backdrop of a stage. The backdrop is always perfectly still and unaffected by what the actors are doing.

In the case of a living being, the backdrop is ‘an aware backdrop’, i.e. it is aware of the actors acting in front of it (the actors are thoughts).

Please think about this carefully and come back to me with your next question. Discovering inner peace is something that has to be done gradually (like learning tennis!).

Best,

Lucky

jane January 6, 2012 at 8:31 am

I came into this one because of my search for the answer to my questions. I am currently on a course where the fourth stage is awakening where by grace i should be awakened . One step is this , to separate myself from my body, thought and emotions. Since i still couldnt imagine how to do it exactly, I came to this site. Now after reading what you wrote here, somehting was added to what I knew, thanks ! Let me ask you, if I meditate few minutes everyday doing what you told, will it come to me even without me knowing it?

Thanks

Reply

Lucky Balaraman January 26, 2012 at 3:16 am

Hi Jane,

In reality nothing ‘comes’ to you. You gradually realize your true nature. A rough analogy is like this: you are a poor vegetable seller in a kingdom. Then, by reading official birth-death records, you slowly realize that you are actually the queen of the kingdom, the queen who was kidnapped at birth. You then claim and assume your rightful throne. (Nothing came to you, you just found something out).

To answer your question, yes, if you meditate for at least five minutes a day, you CAN realize that you are basically unshakably peaceful. But of course, the kind of meditation you do is important. Let me know what you’re doing and I can give you further guidance.

Best,

Lucky

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Shafeeq April 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm

‘Who is aware of the thought?’ — Say it is me/I. Is being aware of the thoughts an inherent ability of the ‘I’ ? Why is it then that ‘I’ am not aware of my thoughts when i am deep asleep?
If thoughts are just manifestations of just neuronal activities (which it is) and if there is a distinct real ‘I’ that is very different from my thoughts why is that ‘I’ am not able to perceive your thoughts but able to perceive mine? Dont you think that in that case the act of awareness / perception itself is a manifestation of neuronal activity of my brain albeit of a different kind from the one which gives rise to the thoughts?
May be this method gives some peace to troubled minds. Let it. But is there a logical flaw in my above argument?

Reply

Jordi Mauri Sole January 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Hi, nice post really. Regarding the emotions I agree I AM not them, but aint they a guideline for us since they are there to help us survive from an evolution point of view…? I do not know is the question is clear. It was just a thought (which IS NOT ME by the way¬®…) :)

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Lucky January 10, 2011 at 8:00 am

Love your answer, Jordi. Emotions might be part of the human mind’s evolution, yes. But as a guideline for you… let me ask you something, who is the ‘you’ you’re talking about? If it is Stillness or Awareness, there is no movement possible and therefore no following of guidelines possible.

Patrice January 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I strongly believe this Lucky. The firs time I came to this realization was when I read the book ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckharte Tolle. I even wrote on it myself. Find here: http://www.climbreachachieve.net/2010/05/you-are-not-your-mind.html

I would appreciate it if you also stop by my blog http://climbreachachieve.net

*Great Post

Reply

Lucky January 10, 2011 at 7:55 am

I’m happy that you are free-flying beyond the confines of your mind. You are most fortunate. Will definitely stop by your blog and leave a comment.
Best
Lucky

Daniel November 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm

After reading The Power of Now, I felt liberated. When I awoke to my true nature, one of present moment awareness I no longer felt any suffering or affliction. Every pain and hurt I had was of the past and of the future. In that moment there only me in the present moment. Unburdened. Tears flowed from my eyes and I cannot describe the feeling I had. It was peace. However fleeting, that moment marked me profoundly.

uhm November 27, 2009 at 4:08 am

uh i think this would turn me into a schizophrenic

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Patrick October 7, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Great post, I was thinking last night how I should not act out of fear or emotion. Empirically I found it to be self-deceptive. I will practice consulting and relying on the spirit of the Universe! Admirably and respectfully, prana8.

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Lucky October 8, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Realize that fear and emotion are perceived, and not part of “you the observer.” Then deal with them; your actions will be optimal.

ss October 3, 2009 at 2:07 am

v beautifully explained. but to most,its when putting it to practice, comes the difficulty..for, to a ‘layman’it more often does sound dull,to think having no ‘emotions’ or feelings.. & it took me 3 full months now, to ‘start seeing’ your point..!! THANKS.. :-)

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Lucky October 3, 2009 at 2:29 am

Hi SS, glad you’re putting your finger on the “basic you.”

Most importantly, thoughts and emotions continue, but you are separate from them… it’s like they’re a movie and you’re in the audience.

Miriam Evers October 2, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Hi Lucky,
This is a good process for detaching from my thoughts. Thanks for sharing!
Peace,
Miriam

Reply

Lucky October 3, 2009 at 2:26 am

Glad it was of help, Miriam. The “basic you” is real and has been there since you were in your mother’s womb…

Lucky Balaraman March 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Hi Kristina

As mentioned in my earlier reply, I think you are not stepping back from all your thoughts, specifically ‘first person’ thoughts. For instance, even the question in your above comment… it came to your mind as a thought, but you did not recognize it as one, because you believed it was ‘you’ speaking (that’s what I mean by a ‘first person’ thought). Step back from all such first-person thoughts and you will be calm, free from doubt and ‘wise’ as well!

Reply

Lucky Balaraman March 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Whichever of the above phenomena it is, Kristina, your job is just to be a silent, still witness. May I also suggest sitting still for 10 minutes a day, during which time you should detach yourself from all thoughts and sensory inputs, and just be, be, BE… in other words, withdraw into the ‘basic you’, which is your ‘sense of being’.

I appreciate the effort you are taking to attain inner peace. PLEASE ask me if you have further questions, I will lead you to the treasure just like my great teacher led me.

Reply

Kristina March 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Thank you Lucky Balaraman.

I get your point. We’ll see where this leads…
I’ll definitely come back should there be anything I’d want to ask. Thanks for the support, again.

Reply

Lucky Balaraman November 9, 2012 at 3:01 am

May you soon be in that moment all the while —

Reply

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