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By Zion Cohen

Alone, being truly alone, not lonely in an emotional sense. How often do we find ourselves alone with no one around, in a place where there are no distractions aside from thoughts?

Most of us do not like being alone and steer away from it. I am not speaking of being alone at home or in the street; there we are still surrounded by everyday distractions of life: t.v., newspapers, telephones and more.

What then, is the meaning of being alone?

It is much like other things that we carry out: first and foremost, it is a physical practice, something that is done with the body, not on an emotional level.

Being in a place that is cut off from people, a distant place to which you don’t take any objects that might deflect attention such as a book, a newspaper or friends. What is left then are many thoughts, those that tail us and deal with simple everyday life: work, friends, and family. Then there are those that allow us to look deeper, to wonder about things that we don’t usually think about since we are busy with a million other things.

In the beginning it might be upsetting to face the thoughts that arise in such a situation. However, with time I’ve learned that things aren’t so bad, after all, there’s no one who watches neither laughter nor tears, there’s no one to judge.

If you cannot go to a distant place to be alone, the physical aspect can always be reproduced in small doses, perhaps even in a dark room. If possible, it is better to get out of the house to an open field or to a place that is far away from distraction, and then do nothing but pay attention. It might be overwhelming and confusing, but in time things start making sense.

The practice is physical. Many times, when thoughts are confusing, we don’t have to think but rather listen, listen to familiar sounds: a car, a bird singing. Then we can relax, close our eyes and eventually listen to the inside sound, to our breathing, to ourselves…

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