Learn to be alone and independent

If one wants to practice yoga and meditation, one needs to learn to be alone and independent, as well as allow others to also learn to be alone and independent, learning to look after oneself.

Somehow quite many people think and believe that ‘aloneness’ of solitude and seclusion is something ‘wrong’ and ‘selfish’. Many people, including health professionals and yoga teachers, would think and believe that it’s ‘abnormal’ and ‘unhealthy’ for the body and the mind if someone is being ‘isolated’ from other human beings for a prolonged period of time, that people would get sick and die due to loneliness and without any ‘physical touch/contact’ or ‘mental connection/interaction’ with other human beings. So they believe, and so they become. It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to think and believe.

For yoga practitioners, one must inquire the truth of everything. Do not blind-agreeing, blind-believing, blind-following, or blind-sharing any information of anything coming from anyone or any source.

Look into the history, of those who had been observing serious prolonged solitude and seclusion, voluntary being isolated from other human beings in the society to cut-off social activities, communication and interaction, to minimize mind inputs of worldly ideas, habits, thinking and belief, to quiet the restless modification of the mind, they were able to conquer their minds and attained the knowledge that liberates the mind from ignorance and suffering. These liberated minds were no longer be influenced or determined by all the others in the society of all kinds of thinking and belief and behavior.

Yoga practitioners who truly want to be free from ignorance and suffering, must inquire the truth of all those worldly thinking and belief coming from someone and somewhere, while letting go the worldly habit of minding other people’s worldly affair, allowing others to learn to be independent to look after their own minds, or not.

No doubt that all living beings must depend on nature to provide the source of energy in the form of food, water and air for survival, and human beings living in the modern society are limited by necessary dependence on some others for certain things. Such as those who don’t farm or cook, will have to depend on those who involve in farming, transporting, food processing, handling and cooking, to allow food to be available to them. Or, people who don’t know how to build a house need to depend on house builders to build houses for them. Or, babies, toddlers and young children need the attentive care and guidance from others who are physically/mentally/emotionally matured. Or, those who have physical or mental limitation or illness, also need to depend on other people to look after their everyday living and to rehabilitate. Or, most people depend on clean treated running water, gas and electricity supply to their home for modern living convenience. Or people who are critically sick need to depend on health professionals who have the knowledge of medicines and treatments for all kinds of critical illness, and depending on the availability of the medicines or treatments to counter that particular illness.

Otherwise, most people could be physically, mentally and emotionally independent most of the time for most of the things in everyday life, but people just wouldn’t, where people are either reluctant to look after themselves physically, mentally and emotionally even when they could, but they rather depending on other people to be there for them physically, mentally and emotionally, or people have fear and aversion towards the sense of lovelessness, companionlessness, loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness.

Survival instinct, love seeking, companion seeking, loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness are some of the significant reasons why people don’t like or don’t agree with ‘aloneness’ and ‘independence’. Meanwhile there are selfish greedy people in the world also don’t like the society to be ‘independent’ as that means they can no longer easily ‘manipulate’ or ‘control’ the society to get what they want.

It’s common that many people want to think and believe that all human beings somehow NEEDING each other in life. People like to think and feel, “My children need me”, “My family needs me”, “My friends need me”, “My partner needs me”, “My students need me”, “My pets need me”, “My country needs me”, and so on. Or “I need my children/my family/my friends/my partner/my students/my pets/my country being there for me, or else my life is empty, lonely, bored, joyless and meaningless.”

It makes the egoistic minds feel good and meaningful about themselves when they think they are needed by other people or beings, that they can contribute something to other beings. If everyone is physically, mentally and emotionally independent and doesn’t really need anyone to be there for them physically, mentally and emotionally, then this ‘craving for needing one another in life’ will not be gratified. People are no longer be able to attain that kind of good and meaningful feelings coming from the perception of “I am needed by some others. I am a useful being. I can contribute to the family/society/country/world/humanity.” But, this is only because of ignorance and egoism.

The mind can be free from the idea of “I am needed by some others” or “I want to be there for some others” and be free from the craving for attaining good feelings and the sense of meaningfulness coming from being needed by others, but still being kind and generous and helpful to those who really need physical, mental and emotional care and support from others, unconditionally without discrimination of ‘superiority or inferiority’, ‘people whom I know or don’t know’, ‘people whom I like or don’t like’, or ‘people whom I agree with or disagree with’.

And then there are those who become physically, mentally and emotionally frustrated, exhausted and restless deriving from pushing oneself beyond one’s limitation to look after other people who want to or need to depend on the others physically, mentally and emotionally. This is because the egoistic mind would feel bad, guilty and regret if they think they are not always there or couldn’t be there for people who want to or need to depend on them. And if their body and mind breakdown due to over exhaustion from looking after others, themselves need to be looked after by some others. If one can’t even look after oneself properly, then how can one look after the others efficiently?

When the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, it can truly serve the world efficiently, selflessly and unconditionally, under a pure, calm, dispassionate, desireless and selfless mind.

In the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre/Ashram, most people see the sequence of the teachings of Swami Sivananda as SERVE, LOVE, GIVE, PURIFY, MEDITATE, REALIZE. That is also what Swami Sivananda taught and had written in most of his books.

SERVE, LOVE, GIVE is when the mind turning outward performing selfless actions in the world (Karma Yoga) to serve the purpose of purifying the mind via the elimination of egoism through selfless service. While PURIFY allows the mind be free from impurities and restlessness to meditate and realize the truth of selflessness. MEDITATE is when the mind turning inward ceased all actions or studies in the world, stands as the silent witness towards the mind perception of a world of names and forms. And REALIZE is the fruit of meditation.

SERVE, LOVE, GIVE are supposed to help in the elimination of egoism while performing karma yoga/selfless service, however, it’s because most minds are not free from ignorance and egoism, that’s why they need to be purified. While SERVE, LOVE, GIVE under the influence of ignorance and egoism could actually empowering ignorance and egoism, and would generate more impurities and restlessness into the mind than to purify the mind, which in fact, hindering the mind to meditate and realize.

And so, the more efficient way might be first taking care of PURIFY (by turning the mind inward via dispassion, renunciation, solitude, seclusion and silence), MEDITATE and REALIZE, and then this mind that is free from ignorance and egoism can truly SERVE, LOVE, GIVE through performing selfless actions or Karma Yoga in the world, efficiently, selflessly and unconditionally. At this point, even though the body and mind is performing actions in the world, but the mind is unmoved/unaffected/undetermined by the actions and the fruit of actions. This mind is void of restlessness or exhaustion. This is INACTION in ACTIONS that doesn’t bind the mind to karma.

In fact, meditation practice being done with the correct understanding and attitude is the best mind purification, as during the time of sitting quietly by oneself, moving the body and mind away from worldly interactions and activities, turning the attention inward, withdrawing the senses from the sense objects, witnessing/observing the mind activities without association/identification with the modifications of the mind, without craving, aversion, judgment and expectation, without intention, the mind is being purified naturally and efficiently.

PURIFY, MEDITATE, REALIZE is indeed the mind SERVING, LOVING, GIVING the mind itself, and thus, purifying itself. Upon the realization of Selflessness, this mind can truly SERVE, LOVE, GIVE to others.

And hence, the importance of silence, solitude and seclusion, aloneness and independence for those who truly want to practice yoga and realize yoga.

One must look after one’s mind before one can truly benefit the others.

Those who disagree with this don’t have to take up this teaching. Be free.


Learn how to be alone and do nothing, without feeling lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored

Solitude or aloneness is being perceived by many people as something terrible or wrong that can happen to a human being. That is because people’s minds are being conditioned to think and believe in that way. And there’s nothing to be argued about as people’s minds are thinking in certain ways and believing in certain beliefs. That’s how people are being taught and brought up by their parents or the society for how people think and what to believe.

Many people never learn how to be alone by themselves and do nothing, without clinging onto other people, to be surrounded by other people to be interacting or communicating with them physically and mentally. They will feel lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored, if there is a prolonged period of time that there are no people around them to be interacting with. They constantly looking/craving for physical and mental attention, love and companionship. A lot of time this is because the parents never teach or allow their children to learn how to be alone by themselves and do nothing, without feeling lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored. The parents try to give maximum love and attention to their children and make their children always be busy with doing something and interacting with some other people, either mentally or physically, or both. They think this is good for them and to show that they love and care for their children very much.

That is also one of the important elements why there are people suffering from loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, boredom, unloved, unworthiness, meaninglessness, and so on. The children are being brought up in the way of building up intense attachment towards the love, attention and companionship from one or both of their parents or caretakers, but the parents or caretakers will not be always being by their side, and there will not be always somebody there to give them the attention, love and companionship that they like and want, that they cling onto and crave for. They never learn how to be alone by themselves and do nothing. Their minds are being used to interactive stimulation, receiving inputs and expressing outputs. These minds can’t stand being silence without any inputs or outputs for a few moments. The sense of loneliness, left out, unloved, unworthiness, depression, meaninglessness and boredom kicks in as soon as they are being away from family and friends that are always being close by physically, to interacting with and doing things together all the time.

Just like for the children without a father or both parents, people might think that by showing them lots of love and attention will help them and benefit them. People like to say, “People need love.” and they think that it means giving or showing love (affection) to other people who need love. But what people really need is realizing the unconditional unlimited love in themselves, without expecting love (affection) through receiving love (affection) from others. If people don’t know how to teach or allow the children to be independent, how to love themselves and how to be alone by themselves, that they can be happy and live life meaningfully as they are, even without one or both of the parents being by their side physically or mentally giving them personal love, attention and companionship, then if the children don’t get enough of love, attention and companionship from the people who are not being there for them all the time, these children will try to cling onto other people looking for attention, love and companionship.

It’s okay that one doesn’t have one or both of the parents being with them or to be there for them. Even if there is one or both of the parents being there for them, it doesn’t mean that the parents have to or will be there all the time, that there are times that one or both of the parents might not be there for them temporary or permanently. And it’s okay.

It’s okay that one doesn’t have anyone or friends and family members being with them or to be there for them. One can love oneself, whether doing something or doing nothing by oneself, and be happy and live life meaningfully being alone by oneself without anyone beside them to interact or communicate with physically or mentally. One has no craving for love, attention and companionship from other beings. One is peaceful as it is, being free from attachment and craving.

But all these children grow up without learning or knowing know how to be alone by themselves, and do nothing, without feeling lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored. They suffer from loneliness, low self-esteem, unworthiness, boredom, depression and meaninglessness, if they think there’s no one there being with them or to be there for them, to interact with them, to give them love, attention and companionship.

Sooner or later, everyone will have to deal with solitude or aloneness at some stage in life whether we like it, or not. It is a natural process of life. It’s something wonderful if one knows the truth of aloneness or solitude. Only those who know this, will know.

Those who don’t know, they have strong aversion or fear towards solitude, afraid of being alone by themselves, and they will be suffering from loneliness, low self-esteem, unworthiness, boredom, meaninglessness and depression if there’s nobody being with them to be interacting or communicating with, physically or mentally. They think and believe that it’s because they are not good enough, that’s why they are being left out, unloved and being alone by themselves, that they are so pitiful without anyone, friends or family being with them, to give them love, attention and companionship, physically or mentally. They always feel that they are not good enough, that they need to be in competition with other people especially their brothers and sisters to get the maximum love and attention from their parents. They need other people to show thankfulness and appreciation for what they have done for others to feel that they and their effort of doing something are being appreciated and acknowledged. They always try very hard to please everybody to make everyone love them and acknowledge them that they are good enough and well-deserved with love and happiness. But, they don’t realize that they don’t have to please anyone to make other people love them. People who love them will love them as they are. Those who don’t love them will not love them even if they try to please these people. And many people will take advantage of the people who want or need to be loved by other people.

Most parents or caretakers don’t realize that it’s how they bring up the children that had caused the children to think and believe like that, to be suffering from love seeking, attention seeking, lack of something, missing something, or craving for something, and suffering from loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, boredom, meaninglessness, and so on, through out their entire life, unless/until they realize the truth that they don’t have to think and believe and suffer in such way. When they have their own family, that is also how they are going to bring up their children the way that how their parents brought them up, and most probably, their children will also end up like them, unless the children start to think for themselves and realize what is unconditional love from oneself towards oneself.

People also perceive the state of fullness or non-separateness, where one doesn’t need any other beings to be there to show love, attention and companionship, to be interacting with, to feel loved and meaningful, as something horrible or wrong. They think that these people who don’t need other beings being with them to be there for them, without feeling lonely, unloved, unworthy, meaningless, left out or bored, are impossible or insane or hard, and that these people must be so lonely and unhappy and live life meaninglessly for not needing anybody being there for them, where in truth, these people are peaceful, happy and live life meaningfully without being depending on other beings’ love, attention and companionship to life live meaningfully, or to feel loved and worthy, or to be free from loneliness and boredom.

Those who think and believe that they need to have other people’s love, attention and companionship to feel loved and worthy and meaningful, to not feel lonely and bored, are not free at all. But people don’t see that. And that’s their freedom of thinking and believe.

Doesn’t need anyone to be there for one to be happy and live life meaningfully, doesn’t mean that one is rejecting love and companionship from others, but, one will enjoy and appreciate all the love and companionship from others that are available in the present moment, without craving or clinging onto the love and companionship from others to be who they are, to feel happy and meaningful, or not. And when there is absence of love and companionship from others, one is still peaceful and happy and live life meaningfully as one is.

If people still can’t understand this, no one can make them understand. One has to realize this by oneself through direct experience and self-realization. Even some yoga and meditation teachers also don’t understand this. They teach about in order to counter loneliness, boredom, meaninglessness, depression, low self-esteem, or unworthiness, people need to have more friends to interact with, to play with, to communicate with, to share with. And it’s okay.

Be free.