Why do buddhists value time alone and in silence so highly? Where is the joy in solitude? What is the beauty of silence? The reason, I have found, is that silence and solitude give us a moment to be who we truly are, without pretense. If we are constantly distracted from our feelings by Facebook news feeds, flipping through channels, working at the office, working on a project for school, etc., then there could be a huge sorrow in our hearts that we never consciously know about, process and release. Only in silence does the distracting noise of surface chatter cease and the truth begin to reveal itself wholly. When we finally take time to take a walk alone, or sit by the river alone, or go to the mountain alone, we can suddenly sense all that lies beneath the surface of our being. Whether it's the divorce we went through as a child, or pain involving an ex-lover, or the hardship of watching our mother get abused, there are so many hard things that we suppress in the hopes that it will magically go away. But to feel IS to heal, often times. And to look at what truly happened with love for yourself and the others involved (which isn't always easy) can liberate you from these massive, yet hidden wounds we carry around with us wherever we go. Over time these emotional and spiritual wounds can sometimes manifest as physical wounds: headaches, muscle aches, and I have heard of and seen cancers develop from emotional duress and be healed through emotional release. To truly feel pain, address it, learn from it, love it and heal it, is not so comfortable or easy. For this reason, often times distractions are welcomed so that we can postpone feeling and gaining the associated wisdom and healing that comes with feeling. But I assure this process of feeling, addressing, learning, loving and healing is worth every moment of it. Luckily we don't have to tackle everything that comes with silence and solitude all at once. Even bite sized amounts of this can assist in creating incredible forward motion and healing. While the process of truly feeling your feelings can be a little challenging in the moment, the rewards are liberating and feel like a weight off your back. This process is best approached with a prayer to the ancestors to help you process the feelings. They will help and help a lot. It also seems to be worth doing if it is done with the objective of finding love for all parties involved. Not to say that what they have done was any good; This is just to say that you seek to find love them (or yourself) even in the face of atrocity. The ancestors can help with this too; It is their specialty. They are real--we can at least give them a chance to help by requesting their help and presence. Space for solitude and silence does not happen on its own in a world like this. There seems to be a need for deliberate action on your part to claim your time from a world that believes it owns you and your time. It does NOT. And the more the world needs you, the more important it is that you demand and work for your solitude and silence, or else all your work will be distorted by the pain that lies beneath. It seems to be most effective when it occurs in nature, with only rivers, trees, rocks and birds as your silent but loving companions. Mother Earth seems to have a way of deftly listening to and soaking in your sorrow or anger or grief or pain and transmuting it into strength and understanding. So, if you wish to find relief from that pressure that nags at you day and night, that which you can't quite name or define, then take time to be alone for an hour once a week with no phone, no television and no "work." If you wish to create a new project that hold great importance to you, take a walk alone in silence for one hour/week (at least) to feel into why you are doing it and how it could be. These times of silence are ripe with truth, peace, growth, sometimes pain, but eventually a deep reward for you and all life on earth. And who knew we'd have to fight for silence? Who knew we'd have to work so hard to just not work? Haha. But find your silence. Claim your silence. Demand your silence from a world that demands you have none. Have the courage to sit in that uncomfortable sea of nothingness where you finally have to face all the things you wish didn't exist but do. It is essential to your well being and functioning. Find your place(s), whether it be that one clean room in your house; that one spot beneath a tree in your backyard; the nature place that takes ten minutes to drive to; or the river flowing behind your house. Model to the next generation that this time of review and silence is not an indication of laziness or selfishness; It is an indication of wisdom and sophistication, and ultimately, efficacy. We--a society so obsessed with noise, news clips, action, arguments, debates, anger, confrontation, stimulation and busy-ness--must recreate ourselves and re-carve a place of silence (some might call it prayer) in our lives. It is a great healing measure for the wounded world outside of us, and the wounded world within us. WE CAN HEAL.