Many people who study spirituality learn of austere practices that are said to promote growth and expansion. These practices can range from strict diets and abstinence to renouncing social roles and the dedication of works. These extreme measures are often taken to deliberately mark the dedication to the spiritual journey. The idea of releasing the outer world in favor of letting go of attachment in order to gain freedom is not a new concept.
Nuns, priests, monks and sages often isolate themselves with the intention to release the world in favor of discovering the higher realms found within the inner world. Although they may be practicing different forms of religion within this type of spiritual practice of isolation. All of these individuals are actively choosing to be alone. It takes not only tremendous discipline, but a strong focused desire to transform.
Interestingly, all over the world we are being asked to do something similar. We are being requested to distance ourselves for the greater good by being mindful not to spread the Covid-19 virus. Granted, we did not chose to isolate from each, or our world in order to reach nirvana (enlightenment). Yet, there are some wonderful similarities and benefits to being alone.
When we are allowed to be alone, we learn to uncover ourselves. Just as the sages chose to isolate themselves to rid all distractions to intensify their focus. So too, we can learn to become free of distraction within our own isolation. However, it requires some active steps to avoid being pulled into loneliness and other forms of lower energy that can plague the mind when left alone without being monitored or motivated.
Unlike sages that chose to be alone. We may not be prepared or used to the sacrifice that being alone requires. The fact that this was not an active choice for us, also plays a role in how we feel about this type of practice. So, we’re required to make an adjustment with the way we view our isolation.
If, we can shift the perspective to see that it is like a retreat of sorts. We can find a silver lining within the bleakness of being alone. The first step in this process is to understand that this situation will be temporary to some degree. We are not being asked to renounce our lives forever. This means what we do to make the most of this time will have a great effect on our experience and our lives once it’s over.
The second piece is allowing it to be accepted through non-resistance. There are many thing we can control within our day, even now. We always have control over our response and how we chose to tend to ourselves. We may not be able to do as we wish. But we can utilize the opportunity to make it life supporting rather than debilitating.
Once we have come to a place of non-resistance. We often find a wellspring of calm and inner support that can quell fear and worry. Non-resistance also has a way of lifting judgment that can create feelings of boredom or fatalism. Placing a sense of peace in the center of our mind is a key to freedom. This is the freedom that the saints and yogis seek within their caves of isolation.
There are benefits to being isolated beyond not passing a virus or staying healthy from contagion. Being isolated can help to remove obstacle to our inner growth by releasing distraction. Within the field of singularity, we can come to find the ‘I Am’ present that reflects all our experiences. Even if, we are not tremendously dedicated to spiritual practices. We can learn to find a sense of ourselves simple by being aware.
Being aware of ourselves means gently looking rather than avoiding how we feel. Instead of binging on Netflix or gossiping endlessly on the phone with friends. We take the time to offer self-care to ourselves. Perhaps, journaling or listening to that part of ourselves that’s never given the chance during our normal busy lifestyles.