An unexpected book arrived in the mail the other day. A gift from my friend’s at Wisdom Publications. Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird. by Zen Master human form, Robert Aitken. Here the koans are told by and to animals of the forest: raven, porcupine, owl, woodpecker, badger, black bear, and […]
I read an interesting piece on spending time alone recently by Cassandra Bodzak. In a culture dominated by extrovert values, being alone might seem like alien territory and mostly to be avoided. Introverts crave it, but everyone needs it.
Meditation gives us a chance to be alone with ourselves for at least a little while and this is, perhaps, why meditation is growing in popularity–it is tapping into our huge unmet need for time alone.
To be alone is one thing, to be comfortable in that aloneness is another. We tend to laud the connection we have with others and sometimes forget that even the closest connections require space.
When a child develops in a secure attachment relationship, the security of connection also involves time alone exploring the outer world and attending to one’s inner world. The better the attachment, the more capacity for being alone that develops.
Do you get enough time alone with yourself in welcome solitude? Chances are the answer to this question is, “no.”
How can you bring more alone time into your days and life? It starts with recognizing the need and then arranging your life to make it so. Again, having a daily meditation practice builds solitude into the very fabric of your day.
Once you’ve recognized the need and made the arrangements, you may still need to grant self-permission to enjoy this time. It may feel selfish to withdraw from others in this way. You may have to set limits on others to get the space you need.
Now that you are alone with yourself you are not in the clear. Being alone and enjoying it requires solitude skills. Are yours honed? Are you feeling disoriented by being disconnected from others and reaching for your phone to provide a bearing into the next moment?
Sitting quietly alone is not always easy. For the same reason, meditation is not easy. The mind does not want to sit still and be quiet. It wants to do something–anything–other than sitting and breathing. People and information provide boundless distraction from the existential reality of this moment.
The invitation is to look within. Not necessarily deep within as the meditation image often suggests but just looking within without the usual distractions. We can find plenty right below the surface once the busyness has cleared.
Now we have something to work with. While this is an act performed in solitude it is still a relational act–we are attuning to ourselves. We are cultivating a relationship with ourselves and becoming more intimate with the energy of our life in this moment (and all the moments to come).
This intimacy is based on open, clear, and non interfering perception. Whatever arises in our experience, we can greet it with curiosity, acceptance, and willingness to learn from it.
Being alone takes courage. Can you brave it today?
You can learn more about building solitude into your life in my book, The Awakened Introvert. Available now.