I am a solitude junkie. I honestly can say I feel absolutely complete after spending the morning, the day or the weekend completely alone. Hanging out with my bad jokes and wandering aimlessly from café to café or beach to beach without achieving much it would seem (from the outside), but more than you can imagine (from the inside), really lights my fire. Being alone is my refuel time. I fill up on the things that really make me feel good. I take time to potter in the kitchen, ground in meditation, play outside, find new favourite places and to practice my yoga. At the age of 18 I was known as one to disappear, often grabbing my sleeping bag and surf board in search of a secret location to sleep. The thought of no one in the world knowing where I was or am, accept for me, still gets me a little excited.
For some the concept of solitude is hard to grasp, why does one need to be or enjoy being alone when there are so many amazingly fun and wonderful people surrounding you? Well let me start with a definition and a few benefits of practicing solitude which may help clear these perfectly rational questions up.
Wikipedia defines Solitude as, “a state of seclusion or isolation, i.e., lack of contact with people. Short-term solitude is often valued as a time when one may work, think or rest without being disturbed. It may be desired for the sake of privacy. A distinction has been made between solitude and loneliness. In this sense, these two words refer, respectively, to the joy and the pain of being alone.”
The joy and pain of being alone… yes there is a difference. Solitude is about joy and growth whilst loneliness can be painful and empty. If solitude is something which makes you feel uneasy, know that once you by pass the fear of the first few hours or days alone, there comes an ability to see things as they really are which then leads itself to some wonderful opportunities to explore self-growth and development.
Numerous amazing benefits will then start to arise:
- You start to feel and listen to your soul and intuition
- The space allows you to connect and ground with nature
- It provides a time and place to nurture yourself and give yourself your complete attention
- It offers freedom from distractions, obligations and responsibilities (both real and non-existent)
Finding solitude when you live in such a fast paced and highly connected global community is challenging, which means you need to make a conscious effort to disconnect for even just thirty minutes each day. Regular disconnection is vital if you wish to have a soulful existence and inner happiness. Stepping away enables you to get to know yourself on a whole new level, one free from the bombardment of society’s concepts and ideas of who you should be and how you should act. By being present and having no obligations you can feel and be grateful for all you have, for who you are and for the world around you.
The space also allows you to heal wounds and make peace with them. A lot of the time our daily lives are only “oh… so busy” as we use activities, responsibilities and jobs as distractions to avoid looking closer at ourselves and our innermost feelings. This I know from personal experience, I was (and still am to a degree) one of those people who was always busy… running around doing stuff, meeting people and achieving what?? Busyness? I am now, still occupying my time fully but in a more balanced way which supports my life purpose. It’s a habit which requires gentle reminders and ongoing practice. I can truly thank my little yogi master and my dedication to my daily rituals for setting me straight on this one! (Luke, you are da bomb!)
Without realising it many of us are fearful that if we stop doing we may have nothing left, and heaven forbid… what might arise? What if I don’t actually like my life or my partner when I stop running around after everyone else? These may be some of the hardest questions you need to ask yourself… or some of the hardest conversations you need to have with a partner or friend. But they are the ones that actually matter most and can set you (and your people) on a path of truth and purpose – as honesty and actions based on love can perform miracles.
Solitude can be found anywhere, but nature is an amazing place to use for retreating. Nature can help heal as spending time outdoors reminds us that we are part of the universe, and when we absorb its beauty with our senses (sound, smell, touch, taste and sight) it gives us the opportunity to energise. Obligations and certain people can in some cases drain us of our vitality. Sometimes distancing yourself from your world, your friendship circles and even those you love can help you understand your relationship with the people you share your precious time with. Distance can highlight what and who really matter. Be sure to show love and kindness to all, but choose whom you spend your time with wisely so your energy levels and vibration remain high. Know that withdrawing does not mean forever or even physically, it simply is an opportunity to create some valuable space for you to reflect in, free from the assumptions and judgments of others (even those who hold seemingly good intentions for you).
It may also be important to note that bad habits and destructive behaviour are often the result of our need for some inner musing. These actions can sometimes be a product of an imbalanced perspective on things and a small shift, perhaps through a moment of peace and refection could create profound changes in your external circumstances.
Most of all the real benefits of solitude are found when you start practicing it regularly and truly enjoy it. To be alone, and listen you have no other option than to find your inner most self. Especially if you chose to support solitude with mindfulness and meditative practices. Only when you know your true self can you start following your life purpose and start making meaningful choices. You can also learn to consciously relax, which means you can consciously reduce stress.
Solitude should also be playful and fun, think of it as a chance to explore or and become childlike again. Take trains to random places, draw a picture by the sea, wander aimlessly and see where you find yourself. For me an adventure in the bush, or to sit in a new place breathing in the surrounds, the walls, the strangers, the sand, the trees, to the sound of my own breath is precious time.
Creating some solitude in your daily routine is a perfect way to start the awakening of your inner voice, to energise your inner child and to balance emotions. Small pockets of time to sit and breathe, have a quiet cuppa, climb a tree and simply “be” with yourself can help deepen your connection with your soul. Solitude is an art, one that we are all capable of perfecting and enjoying passionately!
“I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” ― Henry David Thoreau
Reference: www.mindandsoul.info Article: Solitude and being alone