Let’s look at the etymology of the word “alone.”
alone (adj., adv.)
"unaccompanied, solitary; without companions," c. 1300, a contraction of all ane, from Old English all ana "unaccompanied, all by oneself," literally "wholly oneself," from all "all, wholly" (see all) + an "one" (see one). It preserves the old pronunciation of one.
Alone means “All one” or “whole by oneself”. This is quite a different meaning than how we generally use it.
Have you ever been entirely alone for a while?
I had never been alone since my divorce when I was 40 years old. I was always with family or friends. When building my businesses, I lived in Paris and then San Francisco, always having maybe ten meetings per day. I was also going or speaking at many conferences around the world. There were never enough great people I could meet and work with.
My first real experience alone was my first meditation retreat, a 10-day vipassana, no eye contact, no book, taking meals facing a wall, entirely silent, meditating for 10 hours a day. It was hard. After these ten days, they recommended I meditate two hours daily. I did for about 6 months then slowly diminished and then did it inconsistently, only meditating now and then but still almost every day in short periods.
There is always something “better” to do than meditating.
We move away from loneliness, we are consciously or unconsciously frightened of it and avoid it. Even alone, we tend to avoid this loneliness by reading books, practicing sports, music, yoga, non-stop business, whatever it is.
We are all the time acting, living, creating, doing something. This constant activity seems to mask something buried inside. We are concerned about ourselves. We are avoiding facing loneliness, and this creates a constant tension. We think we need the other and escape ourselves. Loneliness is a “blackhole”, a darkness, almost like death. To avoid it, we run out. Nothing hurts more than loneliness.
"Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god." - Aristotle
Any relationship that arises out of the fear of being lonely is not going to work because the other is also joining out of fear. Only those who can be alone and are self-sufficient can love.
Aloneness is natural. We are born alone and die alone. We are living alone without understanding it and being conscious of it. We are sufficient “all-one”. It is difficult to learn to be alone because we are all used to being with others all the time for fun or business. Life changes entirely if we learn to enjoy our aloneness.
There is nothing to do with our sadness, anger, or anything that comes when we are alone. We have to put our whole energy into the art of being alone when we practice it. We have to live every moment so intensely that no energy is left to be invested in sadness, anger, or anything negative.
The first time I traveled alone to work on avoiding my loneliness was during my second trip to Peru in January 2018. I wrote about two profound experiences during this trip: Daytime Shamanism and Healings in Peru and New and ancient technologies to speak to dead people: AI & the "Inca Stargate", Chakana.
Here is a third deep Chamanic experience: discovering the spirits of the mountains at the sacred “Ausangate:” the highest mountain around Cuzco and in Peru. Its highest altitude is 6385 meters. In Inca mythology, the spirit of this mountain, Apu Ausangate, is one of their most sacred spirits.
I spent two weeks alone on this trip, and it was just after a really hard break-up. I remember having a really hard time alone in Cusco, walking around the old streets, having my meals by myself, and crying a lot while going to bed. The medicines helped me be more vulnerable and release my sadness. It is always good to release sadness, anger, or any stored trauma but it was very long and difficult.
I remember I took the below beautiful hike in Pisac, a nearby village. We had walked this specific path before together with Leila when we did our first ceremony together, after coming back from the Amazon. I cried the entire way up and down, for hours. I could not process our separation.
A few days after, my shipibo shaman Percy took me with a small group to Ausangate, the most sacred spirit of Peru, as he describes it. After a few hours on a small bus, we arrived in the little village, just a few houses at the bottom of the mountains.
I remember freezing at night despite sleeping with all my clothes on and one or two blankets as there was no heat. Before going to bed, the two shamans, Percy and Alfredo did some rituals in front of us. I had never seen such practices before. They brought beautiful flowers and also some food, chocolate, and cookies and carefully created some artistic !!! . Each of us had a little pouch that you can see in front of the picture. These pouches contain rocks and crystals or other little objects collected during ceremonies or spiritual work or sometimes given by spiritual guides.
We then got a briefing on why they made such offerings and then how the next day would go. A four to five-hour hike up the mountain at around 6,000 meters! I was really good at showing a smile but inside there was a huge sadness that only started coming out.
We had some horses to carry the children and some gear.
We met the traditional lamas. It was really nice to see them enjoying their freedom instead of being on a leash for tourist photos in the city of Cusco.
The hike quickly became unusual as we all started drinking “Washuma San Pedro” again, the cactus local medicine.