Inquiry towards why the practice of seclusion and solitude is so important in yoga.
Many people, including yoga practitioners, might think that the practice of seclusion and solitude is only limited to those who renounce worldly life completely to be a monk or nun. Even monks and nuns might not be practicing seclusion and solitude when they live in a community with other monks and nuns. Being a monk or nun doesn’t mean that one is not getting in touch and mingling with the society/family/friends/relatives, or not engaging in social connections, interactions and activities.
There’s nothing wrong or bad with worldly life of family, relatives, friends and community. There’s nothing wrong with social connections, interactions and activities.
But for those who want to quiet/silent the restless mind, to realize/see the truth of things, to be free from ignorance and suffering, to transcend the mind perception of an impermanent selfless life existence of births and deaths and the suffering of a physical body that is subject to change, decay, aging, injury, illness and death/decomposition, then the practice of seclusion and solitude is a very important and most practical efficient way to quiet/silent the restless mind, to free the mind from restlessness and ignorance, and be free from the mind perception of suffering.
For many people who are not interested at all in transcending the impermanent selfless worldly life existence of body and mind, and are very passionate towards the worldly life existence with all the relationships and activities, constantly decorating the body and pampering the mind with sensual enjoyment through the senses, and be contented with ceaseless gratification of the desires of craving and aversion to feel good, happy, confident and meaningful, then the practice of seclusion and solitude is irrelevant to them.
The mind is receiving inputs through the senses ceaselessly, whether with awareness or without awareness, wittingly or unwittingly, remember or don’t remember. There’s constant input of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts, unwittingly, not to say additional human worldly passionate egoistic conversations, interactions and activities. All these accumulated imprints from the ceaseless inputs of the senses continuously bubble up to the surface of the mind during concentration/meditation causing great distraction/hindrance to the mind to be silent, especially in the novice.
And hence, retreat from the worldly social/community/family life to cut down or cut off getting in touch/coming in contact with worldly minded people of worldly relationships and social medias, and cutting down or cutting off all kinds of physical and mental worldly social connections, communications, conversations, interactions and activities is so important for those who sincerely want to conquer the restless modification of the mind to realize yoga.
There are many good and kind and friendly intellectual people in the world, but Satsanga (the company of the wise and liberated beings) that will lead the mind towards silence is very few. Quite many yoga practitioners mistaken worldly good and kind and friendly intellectual people as Satsanga on the path of yoga. All the good, kind and friendly intellectual people will give the mind lots of suggestions, advice, encouragement and ideas of doing this and that in the world to achieve something that they believe as the meanings of life based on their cultural/social/religious/political thinking and belief, and pull the mind away from the path of yoga of silencing the mind.
Most people think and believe that this is selfishness and irresponsibility towards the family, friends and society. Many think that this is madness/abnormality. That’s their freedom of thinking and belief.
Yoga enthusiasts who think the practice of seclusion and solitude is ‘wrong’ and ‘meaningless’ will say that, “This is not the yoga that I know, that I want.”
What they don’t know is that transcending the modification of the mind to be free from ignorance, is the greatest form of duty, compassion and contribution towards all beings and the entire life existence of this body and mind.
Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, Swami Sivananda and many other saints and sages in the past were in some kind of seclusion and solitude away from the worldly society/relationships/connections/interactions/activities for many years until they successfully attained the goal of what they were looking for.
Meanwhile some might had tried to practice seclusion and solitude, but after short period of time being cut off from seeing, talking, communicating and interacting with other human beings of family, friends and relatives, they gave up seclusion and solitude and run back into their everyday relationships and interactions with the world due to missingness, loneliness, meaninglessness, boredom and fear.
Due to passionate attachment and identification towards worldly life existence and relationships, many people including yoga practitioners and yoga teachers give themselves many justification/excuses to avoid the practice of seclusion and solitude, mostly thinking that “It’s so wrong and selfish to not seeing or talking to our family, relatives and friends to care for everyone in our life, or not socializing or interacting with other human beings in the society, to show love and care for others. It’s so meaningful and wonderful to have family, friends and community that care for each other.” And when they experience great physical, mental and emotional suffering and painful sorrow, they would cry and seek blessing from ‘God’ or ‘superhuman Guru’. That’s everyone’s freedom of thinking and belief and choice of living.
That’s also why serious yoga practitioners choose to move away from such worldly life of worldly beings that might generate unnecessary interference, distraction or hindrance to those who want to take yoga and meditation practice seriously. It’s indeed a journey alone on the path of transcending the mind and the suffering of ignorance.
The Guru said, “You have now received all the teachings. You are left alone now. Retreat yourself and practice and realize.”