February 23, 2022


True solitude can be the return place. No matter how far out you have gone, solitude can bring you back to your center. It can show you the way home.

The outer world is not a simple place and there is no escaping the fact that we do have to interact and socialize with other people. It is one of the duties of being a human being. We have to go to work, and deal with family, and relationships, and acquaintances and strangers all on a daily basis. There are expectations that we seem to have to live up to in all of our different relationships. When your boss is around, we put on one façade, and when you are with acquaintances or coworkers you put on another. Even with family or friends, there is so much past history that is shared that we seem to resort to another set of behaviours.

We have become uncomfortable simply being with ourselves. We are always seeking something or someone to distract us.

Even a homebody who does minimal action can still have a busy mind. They pour over the television, or video games, or sports stats, or social media. We have constructed a society that refutes solitude. Being busy seems to be a virtue. Busy in action, and busy in mind. We all share a common dysfunction. And that dysfunction is that we are unwilling to go past content and discover who we are beyond the mind activity.

Let’s say that you want to experience some time without any outer distractions. So you give yourself a day where you are free of any obligations – no work, no significant other, no meetings. Not only that, but you put your phone and TV remote away. No technological distractions either. You are committed to having a day to experience yourself.

However, be careful because when you remove all external distractions, you are still left with the internal distractions. The self-talk in the head. The stories that you create. It is as if we have been programmed to avoid stillness and quiet at any cost. If you cannot detach yourself from these thoughts, the same dysfunction will be at work. It just operates in a different way.

When you are left alone with yourself, you will have to face your SELF. You will have to confront the ego identity that you have created. The more you experience solitude, the more you will be able to observe your own stream of thoughts. Without anyone explaining to you how to do it, you will discover intervals of time where you become the witness to your thinking. For a lot of people, this is not a pleasant task at first. Mainly, because you will have to face all the lies that you have ever told. Not the lies that you have told others, but the ones you have told yourself. You will have to be willing to face all the masks that you wear with other people. But in observing all of the different layers to yourself, you will get to the experience the REAL you.

Moments of solitude give us clarity and direction. If we are too wound up with all the stuff that is happening in our lives, we begin to believe that stuff is more important than our state of consciousness. When we don’t have these periods of solitude, all we experience is content. And when all you experience is content, then the content will soon become overwhelming and we will become more concerned with what we do, rather than how we do it. For a lot of people, their thoughts and ideas are simply a repeating of what they have heard from others.

When we have an important decision to make, and our minds are clouded with too many thoughts, our decisions will not be conscious. Rather, it will be an intellectual analysis of all we have heard or seen from others. A more powerful way to make a decision is to be able to analyze the information at hand, and then find some sort of stillness where the answer produces itself.

When we can experience space and stillness, and our mind quiets, we can finally think creatively. Because creative thoughts come from moments of no-thinking. How could it be otherwise? Where else could fresh and new ideas come from? When you experience moments of solitude, you are able to observe without a clouded lens. The influence and attachment that you have to external circumstances becomes balanced by an inner connection with a deeper power.

Are we ever alone? Well there is one instance, when we are - when we have to be. That is when we go to sleep. When we get into bed, and finally stop scrolling through our phones or watching Netflix, and have to switch the lights off, we are finally alone. People wonder why they have difficulties falling asleep like they don’t know.

In bed, we give our mind free reign. There is no phone to distract us; no business meetings to attend to; no emails to respond to. Our thoughts are finally able to circulate freely and without having a distraction, we are forced to just lie there and watch them, knowing there is no chance for us to stop them. Once the mind has picked up that momentum, good luck in trying to stop it. You have to experience intervals of solitude and quietness throughout the day in order to have a chance to slow it down by the time you are ready for bed.

The goal is not to stop thoughts from happening because they are going to happen regardless. Rather, we have to pay attention to our attachment to our thoughts. The more attached we are to the dialogue in our head dictates our relationship with the real world. When we can detach ourselves from the mind activity, we are able to live more freely and conducive to what life wants. The more attached we are means our actions will be influenced by past conditioning or ideologies.

Simply put, we have to learn to enjoy our own company. Meditation and solitude is not something that you do for a purpose. In fact, it may be the only thing that we do that has no purpose. We simply do it because we dig it. It’s fun to experience ourselves. We sense a fulfillment that is not individual but rather universal. We’re not bound by our skin and our bodies when we are in true solitude. We experience ourselves as everything. We definitely do not have personal problems that we MUST attend to.

In solitude, we detach ourselves from the thoughts. They continue to happen but they are just a part of the happening. The clinging and attachment to our thoughts that has created tension, and stress begins to dissolve. We can choose which thoughts we would like to follow, and our actions become more aligned with a higher purpose. Desires begin to wither away, and our souls begin to flourish. Our vision becomes clear and our thoughts become focused. There is no rush, and patience becomes a virtue. Not just a virtue, but rather becomes as natural as living. And if we fall back into the trap of conditioned living, which you inevitably will, find solitude once again. It will show you the way back.

Michael Bains

Currently 32, he lives in the Yaletown district of Vancouver. He enjoys staying physically active and is an avid reader and writer. Hooped is his first published novel.

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