Although in our daily lives we are constantly with the Sangha, we are also in solitude. Solitude is not about being alone high up in the mountains, or in a hut deep in the forest, it is not about hiding ourselves away from civilization. Real solitude comes from a stable heart that does not get carried away by the crowd nor by our sorrows about the past, our worries about the future, and our excitement about the present. We do not lose ourselves; we do not lose our mindfulness. Taking refuge in our mindful breathing, coming back to the present moment is to take refuge in the beautiful, serene island within each of us.
We participate together with the Sangha for sitting meditation, walking, meals, working, but always we are within our own island as well. We can enjoy being together with our brothers and sisters, but we are not caught and lost within emotions and perceptions. Instead we see that the Sangha is our support. When we see a sister move in mindfulness, speak with love, and enjoys her work, she is our reminder to return to our own source of mindfulness. Returning to mindfulness is to return to solitude.
When we enjoy our time with the people and friends around us and we don’t feel lost in our interactions with others, then even in the midst of society, we can smile and breathe in peace, dwelling in the island of ourselves.