By Rachna Chopra
We exist in relation to others. Our age, education and achievements are relative to those around us. Our constant reflection in eyes of others formulates our perception of who we are. But that is not the real you. Spending time alone is the only way to give yourself a chance to meet yourself in this life—and it is an imperative for spiritual aspirants.
Solitude is that ingredient without which your preparation of meeting your higher Self is rendered fruitless—a waste of effort really— akin to filling water in a bucket with a hole. Whatever you gather painfully through strenuous striving is depleted within a matter of minutes. The greater damage is not what you deplete, but what you never discover! In solitude alone can we encounter all that is hiding inside us that we have camouflaged or locked away.
Spending solitary time is like throwing a torchlight in a dark forgotten room—nothing can stay in hiding anymore; and this is important because unless we know where our many faces are hiding, we can never get freed of them. Yet, the greater discovery is of that presence that shines forth— your own presence that you hear about in the scriptures and in spiritual discourses.
To taste this elixir is next to impossible without spending enough exclusive time with yourself. Of course, utilizing solitude for higher working is an art which no school education teaches us. You are on your own in this experimentation, but here are some guidelines:
1) Be alone. Build your capacity for being by yourself for a few days, and then extend it to a a week or more, with regular breaks of solitude built into your lifestyle. Initially you may feel at a loss, as all your relative yardsticks are taken away. Gradually you would develop a taste for it; you will begin to get nourished by this time, even start craving solitude as you crave food.
2) Watch what you eat: Simply watch what you eat; don’t try to control it. What you eat will change by itself as you start spending time alone, because you can hear your body more keenly, and not get swayed by the senses of those around you.
3) Watch what you see: Clear your solitary space of all visuals that will distract the mind; be it family photos that evoke memories, or other articles of nostalgia or associations. You may wish to light incense and a candle, or a book that inspires you, and keep a notepad and pencil.
4) Watch what you hear: Stay away from entertainment, including movies, music, chats and (even inspirational) videos. You are not here to get inspired; you are here to peel the onion of your personality; not strengthen it. Better to sing, laugh, pray—use your own vocal cords! Reserve your attention to hear you own self; and tune into your inner ears.
5) Watch what you speak: Besides curtailing conversations with others of course, there is lot of inner speech you will encounter; and you must hear it as something external to you, because it truly is external. It’s a soundtrack that is the residue of your karma. It is not you. The more you give it an objective ear, the lesser it will become, and lessen the load of what you have been carrying.
Solitude is indeed a yoga of seeing. It’s about watching the traces left on the mind screen by our senses, and protecting the inner treasure from contamination. It is the process that peels layers and layers off of your conditioned mind, till its ultimate dissolution. It indeed is the first and the final posture of yoga. It is that stretch of the trek that sooner or later we have to walk alone—so why not go embrace it now!
The author of this holistic wellness blog is a modern mystic, and spiritual
travel guide. She guides self-discovery journeys to places of
power and pilgrimage in American Southwest and South Asia. Web: www.rachnachopra.com, Email: [email protected]