Living alone will be an experience, and a special one at that. It can lead you to the remarkable realisation that just being alive is a grand thing (Christie, 1977). It can help you recognize the joy of existence. Staying alone will leave you with adequate space and time to do a lot of cleaning up, inside and outside, and harmonize all parts of you to your highest being.

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As you live alone, there will be no do’s or don’ts. But I wish to share a few things which you might find useful in living alone to be able to find your true self. If, dear reader, you do not like them, please feel free to discard.

Firstly, feel free to make mistakes and learn from them. From the moment we are born, we are taught how to be and what to say, what is ‘normal’ and what is not. Now, even when we are alone, these so-called teachings hang around in our subconscious self. Being alone is a way of letting go of all of that. It is a way of unlearning these external programs.

Secondly, the small little creature in you is but human and is likely to feel lonely, which can be disheartening. Sometimes you might not even realise that loneliness is the issue. The most immediate “cure” for loneliness is making efforts to hang around with people, but I would say this is a quick fix, which takes you away from the real deal. It is important to stay with yourself to discover your depths.

Note that wanting to stay with yourself can also be an ego defense mechanism — its way of saying, “I am self-sufficient, I do not need anyone.” Let that not be the case either, since in this instance, you might disengage from your self by indulging in pseudo-pleasures, such as binging on entertainment. This is as harmful as going all out to be with people.

There is a balance between being with people and being alone, which is harmonious and conducive to growth. However, even better is the space you reach after you transcend the duality. It is a space in which you realise how, on the inside, you are inherently connected to everything. Strive for finding that, staying with that, and living from that space.

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However, finding that space full of blissful joy is tough, especially since we all think of ourselves as an identity, an ego [1]. Thus, on the journey to finding it, it is important to spend time treating all your instruments with care and doing things that give you joy. Paint, cook, learn to dance, do charity — anything which truly aligns with your purpose — but do not take credit for it or boast, because that which thinks it does these things is the ego, which must go.

This leads me to my third point. Do not feel guilty in making yourself comfortable, while at the same time knowing that your soul needs nothing. You make yourself comfortable to facilitate the journey towards not needing anything. It is only when you can remain unaffected, truly equanimous, can you really use your journey of living alone to be one with the spirit of the world.

Fourthly, cleaning up, both on the outside and on the inside, is an important part of the story of finding your true self. By that I do not mean spending time washing clothes obsessively or cleaning up the wardrobes. That is pseudo. But keep fresh things around you that align with your deeper self. Eat healthy fruits, create a little garden, water plants, burn incense sticks. Sooner or later, you will discover the sky within yourself.

Furthermore, it is in silence that you will find your true self, and thus, it will be helpful to discover and become comfortable with how silence feels to you. It is not as if the silence does not have qualities. It does. It feels pure, immaculate, white. Keeping white flowers around helps me align the environment with my inner being. I feel it is not indispensable but helpful, especially since in the beginning of finding silence, parts of your being are likely to be fragile and will, thus, have a tendency to fall back into their old habits.

Lastly, being alone will involve being away from friends and family. This can actually lead to the development of love for all beings, however. Usually we tend to be attached to some people, for whom we care more than others. This restricts who we are and leads to compassion that comes from the ego. I have repeatedly experienced that this type of compassion is quite violent, because it has some agenda or another — even if it is something as benevolent as a need to contribute to society. To be truly in line with the soul, one must be equanimous, and that involves love for all beings, without exception. Contrary to this, the ego’s habits tend to be focused on family, clients, friends. In this process we develop aversion towards outsiders. It is our task to realise that there are NO outsiders. With this realisation also comes the ability to cherish people — family, friends, clients, anyone. However, this kind of cherishing is very different from the first category. Somewhere we all know the difference.

In a way, living alone is like building a little home inside. A little home from where you can travel around the world, safe in the knowledge that deep within yourself there is a place waiting for you that is comfortable and secure.

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SOURCES

[1] In Indian psychology, ego refers to “the sense of a separate self-existence” (Ghose, 1970)

Christie, A. (1977). An autobiography. New York: Dodd, Mead.
Ghose, A. (1970). Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library.


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