There are three irreversible facts of life. We are born alone, we live alone, and we die alone.
Aloneness is in our basic nature, it is at our very roots. In reality, the world is a subjective experience through the eyes of one person alone, You.
So it is with this understanding, that I must begin this article by saying that physical aloneness is essential to solitude. Not only that, but to reap the rich and unique rewards that solitude brings, it is virtually impossible at first to immerse ourselves in the flurry and frenzy of society.
Although aloneness is greatly feared and avoided, almost every spiritual teacher in history has attested to its importance, and the need for it to be embraced and cultivated. If you’re seeking to answer the questions of life, discover who you are, and wanting to gain more internal courage and strength, seeking aloneness is an essential pit stop on your journey.
Freedom From Illusion In Aloneness
There is a certain mirage that most of us have been seduced by, that of thinking we aren’t alone because there are people around us. These people could be anything from a close friend who shares our fun, a lover we’re emotionally bonded with, or a group we share a belief system or genetic relationship with.
Although their company may touch our depths, making us feel a part of a whole entity, when that lover is lost, or that friend is gone, those roots of aloneness are still left. We are still alone. We all know that there are things we do when we’re by ourselves, that we won’t do around other people.
Only in the solitude that comes with aloneness can we be entirely free to be ourselves, providing us with the freedom to not only release all tension that comes with worrying about other people’s judgments of us, but the ability to explore ourselves freely as well.
Unsurprisingly, many of the people who explore who they are in aloneness, discover they are homosexual, heavily prejudiced, mentally ill or other taboo self discoveries they never chose to be acquainted with. Aloneness allows us to escape the illusions we create about ourselves and feed to ourselves, and replace them with reality, clarity and understanding.
Unfortunately however, many people, (and possibly even you), have learnt to equate aloneness with one of the most harrowing experiences in life: loneliness. Perhaps this is why we avoid aloneness like the plague?
Aloneness Is Not Loneliness
It’s true that externally aloneness and loneliness look exactly the same – they are both characterized by physical solitude.
Unfortunately, this is why aloneness is often falsely mistaken for loneliness. Internally, aloneness and loneliness are both completely different.
Why? Loneliness is not chosen by us, but is something imposed on us, manifesting itself as a feeling of isolation and emptiness. Loneliness occurs when we haven’t accepted our natural aloneness in life. Instead, we’re still desperately trying to fill that fear of being existentially alone with external distractions and comforts.
Aloneness, unlike loneliness, is chosen. It can be described as the beautiful feeling of being alone without being lonely. Aloneness brings the marvelous constructive state of engagement with yourself, wherein you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company. Unlike loneliness, aloneness helps us to practice introspection and reflecting inside ourselves to discover our true natures. Not only this, but aloneness provides even deeper virtue in that it allows us to appreciate and interact better with our surroundings – the very world we so frequently ignore and take for granted.
On one hand, aloneness benefits us by allowing us to practice inner searching, reflection, self-growth and the exploration of our passions. In fact, thinking and creativity usually requires alone time, as does reading or artistic tendencies of any kind. Not only that but only in aloneness can we appreciate and absorb the nuances of nature and the world we live in.Being “together alone” is to relate with oneself and with all.
On the other hand, aloneness benefits our interactions with others. A lonely person is a dependent person – they exploit others company to satisfy their own deficiency. Lonely people are beggars of attention. Alone people, whereas, are independent by nature. They’re centered in themselves, meaning that they don’t need others company, which provides them with a self worthy of sharing. If the alone person happens to meet someone they like, they welcome them with an open heart – they don’t exploit or take anything from the other, they simply offer their own company.
Aloneness is manifested by peacefulness that feeds from a well of inner wealth. It is the only way to enjoy the quiet and all the sustenance that quiet brings. Depending on what side of the introvert/extrovert and Highly Sensitive Person spectrum you fall into, each person requires different amounts of aloneness. But the important thing is that everyone needs to be alone and experience solitude at some point or another. Without aloneness, an important virtue of solitude, it would be virtually impossible to find internal peace, direction, insight and interpersonal harmony.
The origin of the word Alone encapsulates this thought perfectly: ‘all‘ + ‘one‘ = All in Oneness.
What about you?
What opinions did you have about this article? I would love to hear your stories and experiences with aloneness below.
This article is part of The Virtues of Solitude series.
You can read the previous article on Quietness here. And the next article on Awareness here.