Detached Devotion

January 23, 2009
Detachment Altered Book- Be Free / January 2009

Detachment Altered Book- Be Free / January 2009

This week I started working on the pages in my mini altered book on detachment.  I only have a few pages of the book completed so far and have posted the book’s progress within this writing- enjoy!  Stayed tuned for more pages as the book develops! I hope to finish it soon.

So what does detachment mean anyway and why is it important to be mindful of practicing this virtue?  I believe detachment is a state of inner calmness and strength that peacefully co-exists with focused intentions. Especially during times of chaos or uncertainty, detachment allows us to cope with these obstacles, carry on,  stay passionate, and view what is out of our control as lessons of opportunity.  Detachment reminds us not to be tied to the results and to exercise freedom in letting go without being apathetic, regressing backwards, passing the buck, or giving up.

In the Handbook of Creativity by Robert  Sternberg, he describes another type of detachment called “detached devotion” and its impact on creative functioning.  Detached devotion results when there is a combination of intense passion, commitment, and interest alongside a deep practice of detachment. Detached devotion is fostered by a bigger purpose other than ourselves, our ego, and our own agenda. It’s about working on the task at hand and taking action on the work rather than trying to control or micromanage the work. Sternberg’s writing cites beliefs that creativity and motivation can ultimately be enhanced when individuals commit to tasks rooted in detached devotion and stay present in the work.

Of course, all this detachment talk is definitely easier said than done. I have found that detachment itself takes a lot of work. Here are some tips that have been helpful for me to remember and practice, practice, practice to stay on the path of detachment:

  • Separate yourself from responsibilities and tasks that really belong to someone else to do;
  • Let others make their own decisions, mistakes, and choices;
  • Be mindful of trying to “fix things” through feeling obligated or the need to rescue;
  • Be aware of hidden possibilities by letting go of how “things should be”;
  • Invest yourself in projects that YOU are passionate about;
  • Voice your truth without worrying about what others think or who is listening
Detachment Altered Book- Calm Me / January 2009

Detachment Altered Book- Calm Me / January 2009

And most importantly, similar to how I engage in art making to focus on living with intention, doing my own art and engaging in the creative process also helps me increase my awareness about  the laws of detachment. And so my altered book continues…..

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3 Responses to “Detached Devotion”


  1. Dear Gretchen ~
    THIS is inspired work! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you,for sharing it with the world! WoW! I love the images. Very serene.
    A really great idea! An altered art book on detachemnt.
    Kathryn


  2. […] me to flip through when I need to remember to let go, relax, and all the things I wrote about in my Detached Devotion post back in January.   I made a short film featuring the entire book…. take a moment to […]


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