At some point during your journey through life you start to become quieter inside.
For me, coming in contact with this inner stillness and embracing it was the moment that changed everything.
Up until that point, life had felt like a busy marketplace full of the loud, stimulating noises and harsh, continual clashes of energy. I not only felt lonely – it was worse than that – I felt the paradoxical isolation of an outsider looking in; lonely while surrounded by a crowd of people.
Although we all vary in levels of Introversion and Extroversion, everyone can benefit from finding quiet moments to stop, be still, and rediscover the solace of their own company.
Rediscovering the Power of Solitude
Everyone experiences loneliness to some degree – it appears to be a natural and inescapable condition that humans have experienced all throughout the ages.
For most of us loneliness is a product of the toxic connections that we’ve formed with ourselves, with others and with nature. How many times have you constantly been surrounded by friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors and acquaintances … and yet still felt a sense of disconnection and isolation deep inside? This happens because we’ve been taught to arrange everything so that it remains separate; we’ve been taught to possess, to use, to compete and to fear others. Thankfully, through inner silence we can learn to encounter, to communicate and to love again.
It is only by coming to terms with your solitude that you can truly be free to relate with others from a place of inner groundedness.
One of the most startling discoveries that I made while cultivating inner quietness was that we’re all alone deep at our very core. We are born alone, we die alone, and although we like to fool ourselves through superficial appearances, we live our lives alone as well. We can try to forget it, we can try not to be alone by making friends, having a lover or mixing in with the crowd. Occasionally what we do on the surface touches our very roots; a lover that reaches our soul, a friend that understands our being – but if that friend is lost, if that lover is gone, those solitary roots will still remain.
To those who rely on the outer world for happiness and fulfillment, this realization is a cause for profound despair. But when you encounter this realization from a place of inner quiet, this truth is full of joy, peace and possibility.
From an external perspective, loneliness and solitude look very similar: they both share the quality of physical aloneness. The similarities end there.
Internally the experience is drastically different. A lonely person is miserable, anxious, incomplete, restless, off-center and dependent on others. It is only through finding the depths of inner quiet that they become comfortable in their solitude, and it is only through redefining what it means to be “quiet” that they can feel happy in their own skin, fulfilled in pursuing their authentic dreams and free from the weight of other’s expectations.
Some people claim that being quiet and solitary is the ultimate state of independence, but to me being quiet and solitary is more of a state of interdependence.
When I watch a sunset with a loved one, I know that I could also enjoy it equally as much alone – I don’t depend on the person’s company for my satisfaction. A lonely person however, is more concerned with sharing the experience with the person next to them who is filling their inner void, rather than enjoying the sunset from a grounded place of quiet inner space. Two people who share an experience from a place of inner neediness taint the experience with hidden fears and agendas, however, two people who share an experience from a place of inner wholeness embellish the experience with joy and a purity of intention.
You’d be surprised how much this feeling of loneliness affects us. We mold our entire lives around avoiding isolation and trying to find a way of “removing” it. We study subjects and get jobs that others expect from us. We worry about how to dress, what to pretend to like and what others will think about it. We enter relationships as needy conditional individuals asking the other, “How should I behave and act to make you like me so you don’t leave me with this horrible feeling of loneliness?”
Perhaps the best way to illustrate this lifelong escape is by comparing lonely people to beggars who seek anyone’s company to mask their inner voids. Solitude, on the other hand, means feeling like a King or Queen. Redefining quiet means being happy with ourselves and being capable of choosing someone’s company not because we need them due to an inner feeling of emptiness, but because we want to be with them, from an inner place of wealth.
Cultivating that inner place of wealth requires two things, Quietness and Courage.
Becoming a Quiet Warrior
Only sheep, full of fear and afraid to be alone, live in a crowd and move in a crowd. You’ve never heard of a lone sheep have you? If you’ve ever seen a herd of sheep move you’ll notice that their bodies are in continuous friction with one another and there is barely any space at all between them. This feels warm and comforting, and it provides a certain protection to think “I am not alone. There are hundreds of others with me.” Very soon you learn to lose yourself in a crowd.
But the amazing thing about this Quiet Warrior journey is the paradoxical solution to our deepest problem: only by becoming comfortable in our solitude can we finally realize that we are never truly alone.
This realization of never being truly alone can be compared to feeling yourself as part of a large, cosmic puzzle; you begin to feel composed of a myriad of forms and colors, with trees and animals of all types, rivers, clouds, oceans, deserts, jungles, stars, lakes and mountains. You are alone but you are never lonely; you are part of something infinitely vaster than yourself that can only be encountered in those moments of stillness in between thoughts, those moments of quietness in between emotions.
I encourage you to re-encounter and reexamine the connection that unites us with existence; our lost “umbilical cord.” Spending 20 minutes alone with yourself in silence every day is all it can take. Getting in touch with your inner quiet is getting in touch with yourself; it’s an inexhaustible presence that can make you feel at home, anywhere, all the time.