Solitude is powerful. A peaceful mind with no distractions can delve deep into the obstacles we need to be able to get past when there is no one else there. I can run down a trail and clearly see my footpath ahead of me amongst the rocks and roots. I can feel my center of gravity shift as I turn and extend and transfer my energy into the stone or weight I am throwing. I watch it ascend, and descend and I can see the results of my effort. When I’m alone, the mindless repetition that would otherwise be interrupted by conversation becomes a rhythm I find hard to break from. I become focused entirely on the perfection of a single movement and the beauty of that. It soothes my savage mind.
The ability to train alone is a skill that must be developed. Some are born with it. Most of us are not. At first we prefer the social distractions of training in a gym with the constant whir of the cardio machines and the clinking of the weights. We crave the music, the happy smiles, the grimaces and sweat of others, the praise from our trainer, coach, or fellow gym members. Our physical practice becomes something we do while we socialize, not a thing in and of itself.
“Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.”
― Zhuangzi, Nan-Hua-Ch’en-Ching, or, the Treatise of the transcendent master from Nan-Hua
While we may not all have the ability to practice in solitude, we do have the ability to focus on our bodies, our strengths, our weaknesses, our capabilities in the moment. The difficult part is to not judge ourselves based on what we are doing or how we feel, but to simply live in the moment. Simply accept what you are doing. And let it flow.