Seclusion is a powerful spiritual practice that’s been recommended by the
Saints and teachers of many religions. Yogananda often remarked: “Seclusion is the Price of Greatness.” Others have described it as “the joyful art of spending quality time with God.”
If you’re new to the practice, we’d recommend experimenting with it, perhaps a few hours at a time. A good way to do this is during a personal retreat, perhaps starting with one hour at a time, then a few hours, and gradually building up to longer and longer times. The longer you go, the more you’ll be able to hear the subtle whispers of your Higher Self.
You’re welcome to spend your time in full or partial seclusion, according to whatever you feel will be most helpful to you, and also whatever you’re ready for. To make things easier, we have badges that you can wear, which say “I’m in Silence.” Whenever you put it on, that lets everyone else here know your intentions, so that they can honor them by not trying to discuss things with you.
Below are some articles we’ve collected to give you more of an introduction to this sacred practice, since many people feel uneasy about jumping into this the first time.
Articles on Seclusion
- “Lessons learned” by a young meditator, comparing an earlier unsuccessful seclusion attempt with a later successful seclusion after she had become a more seasoned devotee.
“Free from the hopes engendered by desire,
and untouched by any craving for possession,
the waves of feeling in his heart controlled by yoga concentration,
the yogi, retiring alone to a quiet place,
should try to unite his little self with the Supreme Self.
—Bhagavad Gita, 6:10
Most of the scriptures of the world recommend seclusion in one way or another, and the practice of seclusion is very common in places where people try to live their lives focussed on God, including Ananda. Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda secluded regularly and counselled others to do the same. Most if not all of Ananda’s senior acharyas also take regular seclusions, and many community members set aside one day of the week for seclusion.
“Seclusion is intensely enjoyable! I went for 2 weeks to a little village in the Himalayan foothills and I just spent my whole time talking to God and taking long walks. I found there was so much enjoyment that it took a lot of will power to have to leave it. I could have been there the rest of my life and never cared to go anywhere. It was so blissful”.
—Swami Kriyananda, Episode #40, Ask Me about Truth
What Is Seclusion?
Seclusion means spending time alone and in silence, and dedicating that time to deepening our spiritual lives. If we don‘t take time to deepen our spiritual lives, then our spiritual lives won‘t be as deep and fulfilling as they could be.
“When we are too much around others, too much involved and identified with our work and family, we lose sight of the innate greatness of our soul (and that of others!). Most people on this planet have never been alone for more than a short time. The opportunity for seclusion is a privilege and a grace” says Nayaswami Hriman McGilloway, in his blog “Seclusion is the Price of Greatness: My Week, and How & Why to Do It! “
Just as we need to refresh and recharge with rest each day and an occasional change of pace in our routine, so too we need “spiritual time out”. Seclusion brings incredible clarity to our minds and lives. The benefits of seclusion even spill over to others in our lives!
Many people find seclusion so delightful that soon after their first one, they‘re eager for longer and more frequent seclusions. On the other hand, it might take at least once to “really get into“ seclusion, depending on your circumstances.
Each seclusion is a somewhat different experience and you learn something new—not only in inner communion but also about doing seclusions.
How Long Should I Seclude?
How long your seclusion should be depends on what you‘re ready for, although it‘s sometimes good to stretch yourself and aim for something a bit longer than you think you can handle. Swami Kriyananda urged Ananda members to try to seclude for one or more weeks every year. Others start with just a few days or even less and build gradually. If you‘re not sure how long you can go, you could experiment by trying for a week with the option to come out of it if it really proves to be too much for you.
Another important principle: If you go into a seclusion feeling exhausted or stressed, you may find yourself spending a few days resting or even sleeping a lot. Doing so is fine, especially if you need to, but you can‘t count days you dedicate to rest as also being dedicated to deepening your spiritual life. If you think you need a few days to catch up on rest, try to do so in advance, or schedule your seclusion for considerably longer so you don‘t end up only resting rather than having a real seclusion. Seclusion has far higher goals than vacation!
When and Where Should I Seclude?
There’s no wrong time to seclude, and for most of us, seclusion will only be possible when we can manage to get away from our other responsibilities for a while. If you’re lucky enough to have more flexibility than this, monsoon season could be one of the better options, because it’s such an inward time of the year.
…whether for just a few hours, a day, a week, or longer.
Although secluding is possible at home, that can be challenging, especially if you share your home. Even if everyone else will be away during your seclusion, reminders of your daily life will be all around you, pulling you toward your habitual routines and thoughts. And you may have unforeseen interruptions at home even if you‘re alone. Going elsewhere is often much more conducive to seclusion. We invite you to discover the joys of seclusion at Ananda Meditation Retreat, nestled in the beautiful Sahyadri Mountains within easy access of Pune and Mumbai. Pictured on the right is our cosy guest facility in monsoon season, run by staff who love to share the joys of seclusion they know from their own experience.