I wrote a book a few years back that tells stories of some of the amazing healers and indigenous cultures that I've spent time with over the years. It takes the reader on a 40 Day healing adventure filled with powerful exercises and stories. The following is an exert from the book titled TRUE HEALING - A 40 Day do-it-yourself healing journey.
"In solitude your dependence dies and your capacity to really love is born."
Time alone, silence, stillness, peace, solitude and no interruptions. What images does solitude conjure up for you?
It is important that we spend regular time alone, but many of us avoid it for a whole gamut of reasons.
Some of us are scared of the feelings and thoughts arising when we are alone and we require constant distraction from these. In our society, we tend to search to be constantly stimulated, and so when there is nothing to do, we are bored. We are bored, only because we haven’t learnt how to be alone, and what to do with our thoughts and feelings. Most of us haven’t found the beauty of silence yet.
The Australian Aboriginals know the importance of time alone. We refer to their solo journeys as ‘going walkabout’. The true reasons why they do this can really only be understood by their people. However, it is clear they spend time alone to connect with themselves, the land and their ancestors. I once heard a quote by an aboriginal. He said: “We go walkabout; white guys
go to a psychiatrist”.
In solitude we come face to face with ourselves. There is nothing to distract us from ourselves. If we don’t like what we see we need to do some sifting and searching through the muck, accepting it as we go, until we find the gem that lies within all of us.
Solitude strengthens our connection and relationship with ourselves.
It teaches us to accept ourselves as we are, which in turn helps us to accept others when we return to society. Many wise beings have balanced their time alone with serving humanity. Enlightenment appeared through Buddha when he was alone under the bohdi tree. Moses was called to lead the people of Israel after spending forty years in the desert. Jesus began his public ministry after 40 days of solitude.
This of course, doesn’t mean that we all need to run off and be hermits, nuns, or monks living in solitude (unless we feel called to do so!). It means that there is enormous healing and growth benefits in time alone, and most of us could do with some more of it, more often.
"Loneliness is when you’re missing people. Aloneness is when you’re enjoying yourself."
In silence, it can be seen that every event, every thought, every emotion, every perception, comes out of a vast soundlessness, an open space always present but usually overlooked.
The weight of our unfelt feelings can weigh us down and cause illness. Chosen solitude puts us back in ourselves. As any repressed sorrow emerges, we integrate it, feel it, and shift it through reflection. Often, when we stop long enough to notice it, we feel it rapidly transform into gratitude, contentment and happiness for all that we do have.
Solitude replenishes our spirit, it renews our vision, it brings us back into balance, and it provides time and space for personal reflection. It allows us to drop into the cracks between our constant thoughts. It is why we are often drawn to holidays, vacations and retreats. They have a similar effect on us.
Solitude is a form of meditation. It is a way to focus on your inner dialogue when there is no one to talk to but ourselves. It gives us the opportunity to identify our ego mind and our higher self. It increases our awareness of what is in our inner world. It allows us to start clearing out the old.
In the beginning, solitude can feel awful and lonely. If you can take it for a while and get through the difficult stage, you discover that it isn’t lonely at all. What seemed like a dry, sparse, and empty desert, begins to flower. You notice the scent in the air as it rains. You see animals come out of hiding.
It is still solitude and aloneness but it is now rich with love and beauty. Love is all around us at every moment, whether there are people present or not. The exercise of solitude teaches us that. We only need to sit for long enough to see the illusion of loneliness fade and the fullness of life to emerge.
I must admit giving up the drug of distraction and constant company can be tough, but it is a worthwhile journey. Once mastered, we will never feel alone again. It’s about understanding the illusion of aloneness.
Some people live in the centre of a big city, have a partner and a wide circle of family and friends, but they still feel alone.
Solitude teaches us to look for love in the smallest places; to find joy in the simple things, and to find our happiness within.
“The land merges with us. There is no real aloneness.
There is solitude and the nurturing silence that is relationship with ourselves,
but even then we are always a part of something larger.
There is no real aloneness.”
American Indian poem. The Way of the Spirit
1. Have a day of solitude. Plan a day coming up soon where you spend it entirely on your own. Ensure there is no television, no internet, no newspapers or books, no emails, no phone calls, no talking to people; only you and your thoughts.
Allow all your deep thoughts to come up. Allow any feelings that have never previously surfaced arise. Practise present moment awareness. Observe your thoughts.
If you can’t manage to organise a whole day into your schedule, at least try for half a day. Other ways to embrace silence are to drive without the radio or music playing, or have nights where you don’t watch television or read, you simply sit and be.
Continue to ensure that you make time in your weekly routine to spend time alone. Even a few hours of your own time is beneficial.
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