I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a number of my friends and acquaintances have agreed to sign up for ten days of solitude and silence at the Vipassana Meditation Centre this year. The movement towards "occupy yourself' rather than forcing an outer revolution is gaining ground in many peaceful movements like Vipassana. Taking the plunge and leaving behind the attachment to the 'monkey mind' is not always easy - the aversion towards being alone without any distractions or intoxications can be daunting. The more time I practise solitude at the appropriate periods in my life, the more I come to embrace and enjoy the stillness it creates within. It not only is cathartic and builds inner strength, it can also be an excellent catalyst for artistic inspiration. It reminds me of a great quote from Nikola Tesla: “The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. No big laboratory is needed in which to think. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us´╗┐ to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.” The company of others is important - but equally vital is the ability to sit alone and face your inner world in solitude.

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