“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away...and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.... be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust....and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
Damn. I asked for this.
I said “Yes” to healing.
I said “Yes” to growth.
I said “Yes” to risking it all.
And here I am, alone and uncertain. But I asked for this.
What is resonant and tragic about Rilke’s words, is acknowledging what is lost along the way. The past, the people, the parts of ourselves that die away in the transition towards birth. For so long I refused this part of the practice. I thought that I could have it all. I could hold on and let go. I could grow out and stay put. That I could be vulnerable to a point.
“Be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend”
OUCH. I was convinced that the practice was finding our way back to one another amidst the growth, the change, the going deeper, the daring. But that wasn’t it at all.
Love is what is left over when you let it go.
I did not realize when I stepped onto this path that I could not take anything with me. That I would be a solitary traveler without luggage or companions. All i would have is what is right in front of me in every moment. I refused this aspect of the practice. I fought it. I bypassed it. Until it became too heavy to bear. All the work of holding it up and holding it together for the both of us. That wasn't love at all.
And so I think, in this solitude, I am only now learning about love. You look for love, you practice love, until you realize you are love. It is “a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
“Do not feel lonely. The entire universe is inside of you”. RUMI
ON THE MAT
Find a space to be by yourself for a while, with no distractions. Get comfortable in your seat or on your back. And just settle in. At first, your attention will hover at the surface…your senses gripping onto to everything around you. Just keep breathing. And with each breath, give yourself permission to drop down, layer by layer. Notice what is there, in every layer of your being. Pay attention to each level as if you were exploring the rooms of your own inner castle. You will notice, that as you get deeper, the space around you gets more vast. Allow for that. See if you can be with the space and the solitude. As discomfort arises, just come back to your breath and know that it always there keeping you tethered to the outside world. Keep moving towards the space. It’s not a withdrawing, but rather an all-inclusive being-with. The space around you is not nothing but everything. See if you can stay there. In the space of possibility. In the space of infinite love. In the space of all of you.
OFF THE MAT
As we cultivate our practice and our inner world expands, it can sometimes feel like there is too much space, too much solitude. I know for me, this is new territory. Learning how to be alone for the first time in my adult life. So I give myself permission to practice. That means letting it be uncomfortable and sometimes unbearable. So can you commit some time today or this week to practice solitude and build up the vast reservoir of love within yourself?