June 23, 2008

Alone Time

I get quotes every day from this online service called Living Jain (and if you don't know already, I'm not the most religious of individuals, but I certainly like to live by a set of positive ideals), and a little less than a month ago, I got this quote by a man named Arthur Brisbane who I now know, through the divinity that is Wikipedia, was a huge newspaper editor in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. He said,

Get away from the crowd when you can. Keep yourself to yourself, if only for a few hours daily.
I read this a month ago, but in the midst of all the nothing I was doing, I kind of forgot about it a few seconds after I read it, but I was looking back at the Living Jain quotes to rekindle something that I lost in me. I don't really know what it is, but whatever it was, it's back now (by the way, if you care to receive the quotes daily, check out the Living Jain site and subscribe. It's not religion-based at all despite the site name. Totally worth it). I thought about the quote, though, and realized that the time I spend alone is certainly the most peaceful time I ever have. Now, I'm not antisocial or anything to the slightest extent, but often times, I'll decline invites to places simply to spend time with myself. I haven't completely analyzed it, so I don't know what exactly I get out of these solitary sessions, but what I do know is that my mind is so much clearer post-solitude.

Though I'm trying, I don't think I can control my emotions -- specifically, the occasional anger/frustration that comes at really random times (aka the male PMS) -- any better than the next person, but when I spend a little bit of time just sitting, breathing, and simply existing, I have been able to flush out the unnecessary chaos in my mind. I'm currently reading The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle (pronounced Tole-ay. Don't make the mistake when talking to people that know about him because you'll just sound stupid like I did), and a good point he makes is that when you boil it down, negative emotions are all a consequence of some form of pain -- fear, stress, anger, frustration -- or resistance to the present moment. Negativity is denial of "the Now," and living anywhere but the present allows these negative emotions to build up and it certainly reflects in one's poise or responses to different circumstances. Giving myself time to breathe, unaffected by the circumstances around me, has helped me brush off negativity from others and prevent it from rising within myself in the last few weeks, and I've found that the pain has returned any time I went more than a day without at least 15 minutes to myself.

I tend to have a very light perspective on negative situations, but I don't think this would be at all possible if I were to dwell in the past or anticipate the future. If the title weren't indicative enough, Tolle's book is all about how living in the present moment, focusing on what's occurring right now without judgment from past experience or what something may lead to in the future. Trying to be where I am has proven to reduce the fog in my mind, allowing me to approach things a lot more positively, and in my opinion, it's just another huge stride in the direction of true happiness (that is to say, pure, constant joy, as opposed to pleasure from something external that could easily be flipped to its unfriendly counterpart, pain).

If that all didn't make sense to you, grab The Power of Now and read up. Tolle can explain these things much more effectively than I can. It's one of the few books everyone should read and will be able to appreciate (and if my recommendation isn't enough, Oprah agrees with me). Even if you don't read his book for a while (as I didn't read it for at least six months after I was told about it), try giving yourself some alone time to clear out your mind, breathe, appreciate what you have, or to simply think about anything every other day or so without any distractions (not the way you do your homework with "no distractions," but rather, with actually no distractions). Tell me what you think.

Stay you,


dhrumil said...

it will be great to hang out this weekend brother!

Suraj Shah | Living Jain said...

Hi Ankit,

Jai Jinendra...

Thank you for your kind words about Living Jain - glad that you're subscribing to the free daily inspirational quotes.

For me, serving up these daily quotes is simply an opportunity to recognise the fact that we can derive inspiration from everything that we receive through our senses.

In your post, you mentioned Eckhart Tolle. Last week I was listening to a podcast where Krista Tippett was interviewing Eckhart Tolle. It's highly recommended listening and can be downloaded at http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/tolle/

Much warmth,
Suraj Shah
founder, Living Jain