Alone

It’s been a relatively quiet beginning of 2012 for me. Especially in the last six weeks, I’ve had time for silence. To be with myself.

Yes, I’ve spent plenty of that time online, and on my new obsession, Pinterest (don’t get me going; even now, I’m tempted to click over and do some pinning to my boards). I’ve watched Downton Abbey from the beginning — which I can tell you is an outstanding and honorable way to spend one’s time. I’ve read a lot of books and listened to a lot of music. I even spent a few days nursing a cold.

I’ve done some work, driven my kids around, and played my role on the PTA. But I’ve also enjoyed being alone.

I’m someone who loves being around people and craves connection (if we’re Facebook friends, or friends at all, you know this well). But I’ve also always been able to hang out by myself quite happily. I’m rarely lonely or bored when on my own. Of course, as the mother of small children who are now not quite as small (and so are in school all day), I feel I’ve earned the exquisiteness of alone time. But even before I had them, I liked it. I became a freelancer in 1998 with no qualms whatsoever about my ability to work at home all by myself. I can manage blocks of hours on end and get done what I need to while also appreciating the silence. I know that about myself.

So it seems my center has always been there, even in those recent years when I couldn’t find it, thought I’d lost it, didn’t even remember what it felt like to be in it.

This week my yoga teachers Emma and Julie talked a lot about the “teacher within.” Your inner teacher is sovereign, the one with the most wisdom and knowledge about you. Even if you don’t know it or trust it — even if you’re in denial about it — you are the one who knows yourself best.

The first line of the Anusara invocation, which we sing at the beginning of every practice, is

Om Namah Shivaya Gurave

Which means

I offer myself to the Light, the Auspicious One, who is the True Teacher within and without.

We all have teachers, and we all are teachers, my teachers said. But your true teacher is you.

To reap the benefits your inner teacher can offer you, you need to listen to her or him. Which means having a clear connection to yourself. It means being able to sit in that inner silence and hear what you have to say — your thoughts, feelings, fears, defense mechanisms, arguments, justifications. The idea of doing this can be downright frightening. But if you try it, you find that it’s ultimately empowering. It’s really the source of all your power as a human being, to know yourself and be connected with yourself. It’s the only place from which you’ll be able to create genuine bonds with the people around you.

It’s possible — it’s necessary — to really luxuriate in aloneness.

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