r a d i c a l s o l i t u d e
Waking up in LA this morning considering solitude. It is a sweet quality and a sometimes precious one. The word solitude simply means alone-ness. It has a positive connotation more so than its cousins, loneliness and isolation. The spiritual quality of solitude is neither isolated nor lonely. Solitude is an alone-ness that allows us to connect or reconnect to our Soul energy.
In our lives today, we are more surrounded than ever, and perhaps also more isolated. We have people all around us, but are we deeply connected to them? Are we really there with them? The big questions here is: are we deeply connected with ourselves?
It’s hard to be there with anyone if we are not really there with ourselves.
An amazing astrologer –write and we will give you her contact info– told me that I have some Neptunian quality that helps me in my work. Like water, my heart energy can disperse itself and saturate others, enter others, understand and love others. It works with groups, too. It is what helps me to lead people into states of meditation and do the healing transformational work that we do. She also told me that because of this, I need to have regular doses of solitude. That, without alone time, I can lose a sense of what my own energy is. I think that’s why I like traveling alone so much. And why I love motorcycling. Even when you are with a group of riders, behind the bars on your bike is a supremely alone place.
So I woke up here in LA in my hotel room alone these words arose:
r a d i c a l s o l i t u d e
Up until last week I thought I knew what the word “radical” meant. I thought it meant extreme, or tangential- a departure, like a ray. My republican dad would always characterize my political beliefs as radical. Students have heard me speak of radical non-dualism and the radical choice of entering the spiritual path. I have always had an affinity for the word. The other day I looked it up and saw that the origin of the word doesn’t mean extreme. It comes from radicalis meaning “of or having roots.” It can mean “going to the origin, essential”. Don’t you just love this?
Radical solitude is a deliberate movement away from whatever we are dispersed in and coming back into Essence. For me it means actually being by myself. Even if I am in the midst of loud bike engines and headphone music, being by myself does it for me. For others, it means having quiet, or shutting off the electronic media that surrounds us. Most modern people, this author included, are wired nearly 24 hours a day to our smart phones, computers, etc. For others, it means getting away from other people. Getting out into the woods, for instance, or going for a solitary walk in a canyon.
Meditation, of course, if done well, can offer solitude in the midst of everything. Even in a class or group event, if you sit and collect yourself, a deep reconnection with Essence can happen. But even if we meditate every day -which very few of us do- we then leave our meditation seat and leap into “connection” with our hundreds of Facebook friends, and everyone who has our cell number in their contacts. Some of us live in families or with roommates or in communities where our energy is required and demanded. So, what to do? How do we play and work hard in our active lives without losing connection with our radix– our roots, our Essence.
The main practice here is an awareness thing. If we start recognizing radical solitude as an essential ingredient, a nutrient, in our energetic diet, then we have a much better chance of managing it well. Meditation can help us reconnect, but it can also be a great place for us to sensitize and learn how to know this dimension of ourselves. Radical Solitude Deficit Disorder can be very subtle. We just find ourselves feeling crabby or ungenerous, switched off in some way.
Honestly, I forgot about this need of mine. I often do. I am so surrounded by loved ones and students and heart-connected things that require my involvement. It wasn’t until I was here and alone and feeling deeply refreshed that I recalled my astrologer’s advice. -here in a funky Travel Lodge in Santa Monica. Now, reconnected, I will wade into my LA weekend aware of my “radical solitude balance.”
I would love to read your comments on this.