A Better Way of Being Alone

 By Desmond Yeoh

From the ebook ‘Filling our Life with Celebration’

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

Ceramic Products

During the Buddha’s time, there was a respected senior monk named Thera who chose to be alone as far as possible. He does everything by himself. Whenever the Buddha finished a discourse, Thera would just sneak away to be by himself. The junior monks asked the Buddha if they should follow the example set by Thera in their practice. The Buddha did not answer them but asked for Thera to meet him.

When Thera got word that the Buddha wanted to talk to him, he was overjoyed and immediately went to pay his respects. The Buddha asked Thera if it was true that he does everything alone and Thera nodded in affirmation. The Buddha then explained to Thera, and everyone present, that there is a better way of being alone, and that way is to be aware of the present moment. When we are thinking of the past or the future, we are not really alone because in our minds, we are with someone else for example, when we recall an argument with a friend; we are with the friend even if he is not present with us. Then tension in our bodies will reflect that argument and so would our emotions. At that moment with are not truly in the present nor are we truly in the past. Only when we are being present, are we truly alone and that is a better way of being alone.

The fourth habit is to take every opportunity to be ‘alone’ by being aware of the present moment. We can practice breath awareness while waiting in a queue, before the start of our meeting, during lunch break or when showering. A few minutes of this practice, whenever the opportunity presents itself, will turn it into a habit. When it becomes a habit, it becomes effortless.  It is not possible to force our minds to be aware of the present moment all the time because the habit of being unaware has been reinforced since we were children, and numerous lifetimes before that.

A famous Theravadan Buddhist monk, Ajahn Sumedho, taught that listening to the ringing sound within our ears can quickly calm our mind. In Yoga, the sound is explained as the sound of ‘OM’, the sound vibration that created the universe and as such, is the sound that vibrates within us as well. Concentrating on the sound of ‘OM’ within, while practicing breath awareness, effectively draws our attention within, and releases any tension in us. As we practice this, the time it takes to calm our mind will become shorter and shorter. As we refine this ability, we will be able to remain calm irrespective of the external circumstances and be able to make wise decisions for the benefit of all instead of reacting based on our past conditioning or karmic tendencies.

It is also beneficial if we learn to appreciate the time we have to ourselves. We are so busy that the time we have to be alone is limited. Only when we are alone can our mental activity slow down so that we can truly relax and recharge. When we learn to appreciate our ‘alone time’, we will never be lonely because we have learnt to appreciate the benefits of being alone.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. bella
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 12:35:14

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