by Chris Hammond M.Ac.,L.Ac.
Have you asked yourself how often you spend a day, or at least some part of a day in complete solitude – totally isolated from anyone or anything in the external sensory world? Now I am not really talking about meditation here. A meditative state is one in which the concentrated mind is cultivated to be still and calm, maintaining a focus to consciously achieve this. A period of solitude is more a time of being alone with yourself, not feeling lonely, without any external interruptions or distractions that might encourage your mind to busy itself with new input. Just a time for being content with yourself and feeling comfortable with who you are.
Many of us find it increasingly impossible to find time, or even the desire to switch off from endless chatting with friends and loved ones, engaging in stimulating conversations or even talking to others about nothing in particular. Our minds seem always thirsty for information, reading newspapers, books, watching TV, texting, listening to music, constantly trying to entertain ourselves with thoughts and emotions. All of this requires a huge amount of energy and drains the body leaving it exhausted. According to Chinese Medicine, over-stimulation of the seven emotions can lead to qi imbalance and blockage in meridians, irregular blood flow and damage to vital organs. In the Buddhist tradition attachment to thoughts, emotions, people and things is believed to bring suffering. Only when you can enjoy being truly alone in your surroundings, with an absence of external sensory stimulation, can your body fully relax and your psycho physical state be in harm only with the world around you.
Try setting aside an hour a day when you can pull yourself away from your usual indulgence in the sensory world of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. Disconnect all means of connecting with others. Let everything in your surroundings be as it is, without interfering with, adding to, or taking away from it in any way. Learn to be happy in yourself and your own natural state, whatever that may be. Allowing the mind to rest in this way without feeding it constantly with external stimuli will then refresh and re-energize both mind and body.
”No man is an island”, but a little time spent completely alone from time to time may do a world of wonders!