This charming video pays tribute to the happy wholesomeness of being alone. Tanya Davis recites her poem about the ways of solitude, gently cataloging all the places where aloneness can bring freedom and healing. Whether at a lunch counter, park bench, mountain trail, or on the edge of a dance floor – all you have to do is love yourself enough, to love being alone.
Solitude has two components, physical and mental. The practice for this week is to try to cultivate and bring your attention to both.
There are two kinds of solitude, that of the mind (citta-viveka) and that of the body (kaya-viveka). Everyone is familiar with solitude of the body. We go away and sit by ourselves in a room or tell the people we are living with, that we want to be left alone. People usually like that sort of solitude for short periods. If this aloneness is maintained, it is often due to people not being able to get along with others or being afraid of them because there isn’t enough love in their own hearts. Often there may be a feeling of loneliness, which is detrimental to solitude. Loneliness is a negative state of mind in which one feels bereft of companionship.
When one lives in a family or community, it is sometimes difficult to find physical solitude, it’s not even very practical. But physical solitude is not the only kind of aloneness there is. Mental solitude is an important factor for practice. Unless one is able to arouse mental solitude in oneself, one will not be able to be introspective, to find out what changes in oneself are necessary.
Mental solitude means first and foremost not to be dependent on others for approval, for companionable talk, for a relationship. It doesn’t mean that one becomes unfriendly towards others, just that one is mentally independent. If another person is kind to us, well and good. If that isn’t the case, that’s fine too, and makes no difference.