Stillness of the mind that reflects our innermost thoughts can only be achieved in solitude, in a scenario where we are away from worldly distractions. This is not very different from how a reflection can be seen in still water, but throw a pebble in the water and the reflection is scattered into a thousand pieces. Thoughts are akin to the pebble that breaks our reflective mood. Solitude helps bring down the chances of distractions, both internal and external, and helps us to focus and meditate.
Time and place both make a difference in influencing the extent and quality of solitude. The solitude of a forest, next to a bubbling brook cannot be matched by that of a closed room on a weekday evening. There will be distractions in the form of our mobiles, TV, family members, and external noises from the street.
And just as messages, information, and external noise shapes our thinking, so does solitude. At the end of the day, we are what we think. And meditative thought or reflection done in solitude helps us rise spiritually. The silence is the time to confront thoughts that distract us the most. The solitude affords us an opportunity to step back and become an observer to the thoughts that rise within us. It is an opportunity to continuously wage battle against thoughts that arise to disturb our meditation.
With solitude around us, it becomes easier to withdraw our senses inwards, for the simple reason that external influences are reduced to a minimum. The time spent in solitude is when we try to be at harmony and peace with ourselves. Our thoughts are not governed by the expectations of others. The habit of contemplation is intensely beneficial in developing Vairagya or detachment, the single virtue that can help us see through the cosmic web of Maya or illusion.
It is important to be patient and not judge yourself too harshly when sitting in solitude. Reflection becomes more meaningful and deeper as time progresses. In the city, early mornings before sunrise are ideal time to sit in solitude. After finishing the daily ablutions, one can sit in Siddhasan or Padmasan and begin to meditate. Get into a routine. Meditation requires a routine, and once a routine is set, the mind and soul will crave the daily diet for nourishment. It becomes an essential part of the yogi’s routine.
The lives that we lead, it is not easy to create time for meditation. Even twenty four hours sometimes appear to be less to fulfill the chores and duties of our daily lives. But the student of spirituality, if he desires to progress, will have to take time out from these twenty four hours. It can mean doing the daily work more efficiently to save time, or maybe cutting back on sleep by an hour.
Time spent in solitude is time spent to connect with inner self, but it’s easier said than done. It’s a journey and one of the most disconcerting physical impediments to meditation in solitude is getting lulled into a nap or getting bored. Pull your mind and body back to the task at hand. This is how the spiritual masters of yore progressed. They started out as you and I, but through perseverance and recognition of the value of solitude, they progressed.