Returning to our spiritual disciplines series, which focuses on exercises that can be used to train the soul. These disciplines' goals and practices are approached in such a way that they can be adaptable to a variety of belief systems.
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“Not all men are called to be hermits, but everyone needs enough silence and seclusion in their lives to hear the deep inner voice of their own genuine self at least once in a while.” When that inner voice is not heard, when a person is unable to achieve the spiritual serenity that comes from being totally at one with his own self, his life is always unhappy and stressful. Because he can't be happy for long until he's in touch with the spiritual life springs that lie concealed in the depths of his own soul. Man ceases to be a true person if he is constantly exiled from his own house, kept out of his own spiritual solitude. He doesn't exist as a guy anymore.” Thomas Merton (Thomas Merton) (Thomas Merton) (Thomas
They are the spiritual disciplines through which prophets like Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad prepared for their ministry and received insights that led to the establishment of new religions.
Plato, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne, Rousseau, Goethe, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Muir, Tillich, and Camus are among the poets and thinkers who have lauded spiritual disciplines (to name only a few).
Many of the world's greatest leaders, from Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln to Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt, used spiritual disciplines to make history-making judgments.
They are the spiritual disciplines of isolation and silence, which are essential for the soul's health (and of society).
They are undoubtedly the most fascinating and compelling of the spiritual disciplines, yet they also appear to be the most difficult to find in our crowded, noisy, modern world.
Silence and alone may appear to be beyond the reach of the normal man, or a luxury reserved for religious ascetics and hermetic philosophers, or a luxury afforded only to those leaders who must make difficult decisions with great risks.
Even in this day and age, finding solitude and stillness is attainable without having to go to a cloister. And, far from being a privilege reserved for a select few, achieving these states is a collective obligation.
Today, we'll look at why that is, how both spiritual disciplines are related, and how even the busiest of souls can seek out and acquire both.
What Is Solitude?
“I've never met a companion as companionable as isolation.” Thoreau, Henry David
Physical separation, stillness, silence, and social disengagement are all attributes typically associated with solitary, according to Philip Koch in Solitude: A Philosophical Encounter.
Except for one, he examines these characteristics and finds them all deficient as required prerequisites for isolation.
Isolation on a physical level? Certainly, this is what comes to mind when we think of isolation; we think of the monk alone in an abbey cell or the mountain dweller alone in a cabin.
But, even in the midst of a crowd, isn't it possible to withdraw inwardly? There are monks who live in communities with others yet are nonetheless very solitary. Even those who do not live in a cloister might experience a sense of seclusion when they shut off the world around them to focus on their own duties and thoughts. As Thoreau put it, “The miles of space between a man and his companions are not a measure of solitude. In one of the bustling hives of a college, the truly dedicated student is as solitary as a desert dervish.” As the Chinese proverb puts it: “In a crowded street, the greatest hermit.”
“Solitude is more of a mental and emotional attitude than a physical location. There is a kind of heart isolation that can be kept at all times. Crowds, or the lack thereof, have little bearing on this inward focus.”
Solitude implies the construction of one's own world, but such an universe does not necessitate the construction of physical boundaries.
For the same reason, quiet cannot be considered fundamental to solitude. Though quiet is strongly associated with solitude, as we'll see, if it's conceivable to beat an inward retreat while in the company of others, it's also possible to be lonesome while in the presence of noise.
How about silence? While we often associate solitude with meditating in an ashram or studying in a monastic cell, isn't a man hiking a trail or cutting wood by himself both alone and active?
Physical seclusion, calm, and silence are all beneficial to solitude, but they aren't necessary for it to exist.
According to Koch, this results in social disengagement “The most promising location for seeking solitude's center.” When we're surrounded by man-made stimuli, we can discover solitude if we don't pay attention to it.” Solitude is, at its core, “just an experiencing world in which other people are missing” regardless of whether they are physically separated from us or just by the way we choose to direct our mental attention.
On the basis of intentionality, we can further define isolation. It is possible to be disconnected from people, but it is not a choice. The effect is a sense of isolation. Solitude is a state, not an emotion, and it can be accompanied with any happy or negative emotion. So, while being lonely in alone is possible, feeling lonely is not always the same as experiencing loneliness. You're not just alone when you're alone in isolation; you've purposefully cut yourself off from the rest of the world.
As a result, we might define solitude as the deliberate disengagement from social contact when taken as a whole.
What Is Silence?
“To everything under heaven, there is a season and a time for everything… a time to maintain silence and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:17
It is not the literal absence of all noise in the spiritual realm, but the absence of all human-created stimuli. “Human-created” since most people would consider a walk in the woods, even if there are sounds of nature, to be a period of “quiet.”
Silence prohibits the consumption of any human-created information, including not only audible stimuli but even the reading of the written word an act that, while quiet, nonetheless entails “listening” to the text.
Silence also includes the quieting of one's own noise, as well as external noise caused by others; it necessitates the cessation of all talking, or speaking only when absolutely required.
The only words that one hears in quiet are those that are made internally, and the only words that one makes are personal writing/journaling.
This personal peace eventually extends not only to the consumption/production of words and sound, but to an entire way of being, as stated by Sioux tribesman Ohiyesa (Charles Eastman):
“The absolute equilibrium or balance of body, mind, and soul is silence.” In the mind of the unlettered sage, the man who keeps his selfhood ever serene and unshaken by the storms of existencenot a leaf astir on the tree; not a ripple on the surface of a brilliant poolhis is the ideal attitude and conduct of life.”
What Is the Relationship Between Silence and Solitude?
We highlighted in our definition of solitude that stillness is not a requirement for its existence. While silence isn't necessarily required for isolation, the two are inextricably linked.
Though it is possible to achieve solitude in the midst of people and noise by diverting one's attention away from these outward stimuli and channeling it inward, this is challenging in practice. When interruptions keep taking you out of your own world, your attention becomes divided and you can't get very far into it.
On the other hand, the more silent one's surroundings are, the easier it is to disconnect from social expectations and external distractions, and the deeper one's solitude becomes.
The profundity of silence and the profundity of loneliness are thus inextricably linked. Because the presence of the former is required to truly experience the latter, we will mostly be discussing silence and isolation as an inseparable couple.
Why Are Solitude and Silence So Compelling?
“Silence has the same effect on the psyche that sleep has on the body. It provides it with the required rest and recuperation possibilities.” William G. Simms (William G. Simms) (William G. Simms) (
The demand for peace and isolation appears to be extremely pertinent to today's over-convenienced individuals, who are overwhelmed by the constant cacophony that emanates from every nook and cranny of their existence. However, as previously stated, mankind have wanted these states for thousands of years, long before anything digital, electrical, or urban existed.
Humans are sometimes referred to as sociable animals, and we most certainly are. But this trait arose out of necessity rather than choice; people required other humans to survive, thus they were forced to live in communities. People, on the other hand, have always felt both grateful and resentful of this obligation. We love the companionship of others while wishing to avoid the responsibilities that come with being in a relationship. We value the herd's safeguards, but we don't want our individuality to be lost in the process. Our fellow man attracts and repels us in equal measure. We are healthy when we get a moderate dose of community; when we have too much of the other, we become sick.
We affirm our independent identity, the validity of our separate existence, when we are able to live alone, even for a short time. We momentarily thwart the law of the herd, which says we will perish if we leave the tribe, and show ourselves we can exist alone, at least for a while. This is the allure of solitude: the exhilaration of being alone.
Everyone requires the recharging spark of silent alone. Extroverts may require less, while introverts require more, but neither group can function without the other. This equation is unaffected by one's circumstances. Whether one lives in a position of wealth and loudness or deprivation and silence, solitude is a requirement.
Even though the eminent psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was imprisoned at Auschwitz, he could not have lived a more bare and vulnerable existence, he nevertheless felt compelled to separate from others:
“Of course, there were instances when it was conceivable, and even necessary, to avoid the mob….” The prisoner yearned for time alone with his thoughts. He wanted for isolation and privacy. I had the unusual luxury of finding isolation for approximately five minutes at a time after being transported to a so-called “rest-camp.” There was a calm space in a corner of the double fence of barbed wire surrounding the camp, behind the clay house where I worked and in which roughly fifty insane patients were crammed. A tent made of a few poles and tree branches had been erected there to shelter a half-dozen bodies (the daily death rate in the camp). The water pipelines were also accessible via a shaft. When my services were not required, I squatted on the wooden lid of this shaft. I simply sat and gazed out the window at the green blossoming slopes and distant blue hills of the Bavarian scenery, which were framed by barbed wire meshes. I daydreamed longingly, and my mind travelled north and northeast, in search of my home, but all I saw were clouds. I was unconcerned with the corpses beside me, which were crawling with lice. Only the footsteps of passing soldiers were able to wake me up from my slumber.”
Solitude and stillness compel us in the same way that food and sex do; they speak to basic human wants that, while not physically necessary, are psychologically necessary.
Because we never hit pause and move out of that clamorous flow, we never know how much so, and what effect a nonstop life of crowds and noise may have on us. We don't have anything with which to compare our “regular” lives.
When writer Patrick Leigh Fermor moved to a monastery in Europe to concentrate on a book, he first struggled to acclimate to his new surroundings and went through a period of withdrawal during his first few days there. The stillness and seclusion of the abbey depressed and burdened him, leaving him with “a sensation of loneliness and flatness that invariably follows the change from cosmopolitan excess to a life of rustic solitude”:
“Only by spending time at a monastery can one really appreciate how different it is from our everyday lives.” The two forms of life have no common feature, and the ideas, ambitions, sounds, light, time, and atmosphere that surround cloister residents are not only unlike what one is used to, but also seem to be the polar opposite. The process of conventional standards fading and the weird new world becoming reality is slow and painful at first.”
Fermor learned he'd been living with an inner debt of tiredness he'd been utterly oblivious of while he acclimated to his silent, alone surroundings:
“I discovered that my sleeping capacity was increasing: till the hours I spent in or on my bed considerably surpassed the hours I spent awake; and my slumber was so profound that I may have been under the effect of some hypnotic substance…
The explanation is simple enough: the desire for talk, movement, and nervous expression that I had brought with me from Paris found no response or foil in this silent place, elicited no single echo; after miserably gesticulating in a vacuum for a while, it languished and eventually died for lack of stimulus or nourishment. Then the massive accumulation of exhaustion, which must be a common trait among all of our contemporaries, erupted and engulfed everything. There were no automatic drains on my nervous energies once I had risen from that flood of sleep: there were no automatic drains like talking at meals, small talk, catching trains, or the hundred worrying trivialities that poison everyday existence.”
Fermor discovered that he only needed five hours of sleep per night after his body had become well-rested, and that he had erased the deep-seated fatigue caused by years of dealing with the “anxious trivialities” of everyday life, and that he had entered a “new dispensationleft nineteen hours a day of absolute and god-like freedom.” Fermor relished his new regimen, which included hikes in the countryside, reading, and an incredible amount of literary output.
“The unwinding process, after I had left, was 10 times harder,” Fermor said of the shift to silence and seclusion when he first entered the monastery. The Abbey began as a cemetery; the outside world, on the other hand, became a cacophony of noise and ugliness.
“It's all well and good to say that man is a “social animal”the reality is self-evident. But it is no reason to reduce him to a cog in a totalitarian machineor, for that matter, a religious one. In reality, society's survival is predicated on its individuals' inviolable personal isolation. To be called a society, it must be made up of people, not numbers or mechanical components. Being a person entails both duty and freedom, and both require an inner sense of solitude, personal integrity, a sense of one's own reality, and the ability to giveor refuseoneself to society.
Men lose their true humanity, integrity, ability to love, and capacity for self-determination when they are merely drowned in a mass of impersonal human beings driven around by automated forces. When a society is made up of men who have never known inward isolation, love can no longer hold it together, and it must rely on a violent and abusive power to keep it together. When men are brutally robbed of the solitude and independence to which they are entitled, society becomes putrid, festering with servility, resentment, and hatred.” Thomas Merton (Thomas Merton) (Thomas Merton) (Thomas
Simple kinds of solitude and silence provide a fundamental salve to the psyche when sought passively, out of visceral yearning; when sought consciously, for the aim of training and edifying the soul, solitary and silence become spiritual disciplines, and their benefits extend to the spirit.
When isolation and silence are actively practiced and cultivated, they provide a variety of energizing and strengthening impacts on the soul:
Ability to Listen to God's and/or Your Own Voice
The world is a clamorous, verbose place. Words are flowing from your loved ones, appearing on your smartphone, blaring from your car radio, pouring from the mouth of a television newscaster, and scrolling the bottom of the screen below it. There are messages in every nook and cranny of your existence telling you what you should do, think, and be. It can be difficult to hear God's voice and recognize your own in the midst of this incessant din. It can be difficult to tune into these lightest of frequencies in the midst of so much static.
You can finally focus on picking up on divine signals and listening to their urgent transmissions in the quiet of silent isolation, which provides the space needed for undistracted and hence beneficial meditation. You'll be able to hear God's “still, little voice” and understand his will better if you spend more time alone with him. The more you can tune out the din of the crowd, the more you'll be able to pay attention to your inner nudges and become self-sufficient.
We can't hear these voices over the din of our busy lives any more than a whisper can be heard across a crowded nightclub. Noise erects a wall of sharp spikes that pops intuition, insight, and personal revelation before they ever enter your mind; noise erects a wall of sharp spikes that pops them before they ever enter your consciousness.
There could be a slew of life-changing promptings brewing in your soul right now, and you'll never know unless you take a step away from the crowd and locate a quiet corner to yourself.
Discernment and Clarity in Decision-Making
“For, in the seclusion of a cellan existence marked only by silent meals, solemnity of ritual, and long solitary walks in the woodsthe troubled waters of the mind become still and clear, and much that is hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the surface and can be skimmed away; and after a time, one achieves a state of peace unimaginable in the ordinary world.” Patrick Leigh Fermor (Patrick Leigh Fermor) (Patrick Leigh Fermor) (Patri
When you're trying to make a big decision, the intuition-releasing nature of silent solitude is very helpful. Your viewpoint may appear hazy, like a jar of dirty water that has been disturbed. Silence and solitude generate an inner quiet that allows all the distracting details, competing interests, and external factors to fade away “shoulds” to settle, presenting a more accurate image of reality and a path forward.
Liberation from Living in Reference to Others
Social engagement is similar to a chess game or a dance. We correlate and change our behavior in response to the actions of others. We don't give it much thought because it's become almost second nature, yet we're always watching for and responding to others' signs and selecting how to act based on social standards. We must force ourselves to listen, exhibit attention, and refrain from making inappropriate remarks. We must be proactive as well as defensive: anyone can offend, shame, confuse, or manipulate us at any time, and we must be vigilant against such attacks. All of this must be accomplished while appearing to be effortless! Even when you're around people who allow you to “be yourself,” social engagement necessitates a high level of attentiveness and control.
This isn't necessarily a terrible thing; as we'll see later, social interaction is a vital counterbalance to solitude. Constant immersion in society, on the other hand, is taxing and depletes the soul's health. We need to go away from the crowd now and again, and take a break from thinking and acting in relation to other people. To experience a condition in which our thoughts and behaviors are merely active, rather than reactive, we must be able to let down our defenses and re-establish a self separate from its response to others.
Preparation for an Upcoming Challenge
“When we're on the street or in palaces, we need seclusion that will hold us to its disclosures.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (Ralph Waldo Emerson (Ralph Waldo Emerson (Ralp
It's no coincidence that Jesus began his ministry by fasting in the desert for forty days. This time alone helped him prepare for the difficult mission ahead.
When we know we'll be confronting a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual hardship soon, we can benefit from taking a silent isolation retreat, though it doesn't have to be as long.
Silence and solitude allow you to make more informed decisions. You make the decision that if X occurs, you will do Y.
Reaffirming your commitment to keeping a Stoic mindset rehearsing to yourself the idea that it's pointless to respond emotionally to things you can't change, and that you must focus only on what you can control is another way to prepare for the twists of fate in your path.
You can enter a task with a greater sense of moral courage if you prepare your mind ahead of time. By reaffirming your beliefs before entering the conflict, you'll be less likely to change your mind afterwards and thus less likely to succumb to the crowd's grip. You emerge from the quiet alone more prepared to make your own route rather than following the road laid out for you by others.
Lt. Colonel Michael Erwin of the Army puts it this way: “Leading oneself is a prerequisite for leading others. And seclusion is where personal leadership emerges.”
Strength to Rejoin the Fight
“An hour of contemplative isolation can prepare the heart for days of war, arming it to face even the most cunning foe.” Percival
Silence and solitude not only help you prepare for a challenge, but they also help you recover when you're stuck in the middle of one.
Frontline troops only spend a certain amount of time in combat before being rotated to the rear for rest and relaxation. Warriors who are constantly engaged in the heat of battle cannot perform at their best; tiredness sets in, wrong decisions are made, and the fighting force disintegrates.
Similarly, staying on the “frontlines” of life is detrimental to each of us. To sustain our morale, emotional balance, and ability to continue the struggle, we must rotate into silence and solitude. This break allows us to re-focus our priorities, re-direct our compass, and re-commit to a larger goal that may have become lost in the minutiae of daily living.
It's difficult to rationalize taking a step back when there's never a lack of tasks to complete or people who require immediate assistance. However, while a retreat may take up time in the short term, it allows you to work more successfully and sustainably in the long run.
Despite the fact that swarms of people seeking treatment followed Jesus around and he was well aware that his ministry would be brief, he frequently “took off to a solitary location” and “withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Short periods of stillness and seclusion re-energized him for another day of unselfish devotion.
Theodore Roosevelt withdrew to a ranch in the Dakotas after losing both his wife and mother on the same day. TR was able to regain emotional balance, re-orient his life, and re-enter public life with Bull Moose-like zeal after many lonely horseback rides through the Badlands.
You “sharpen the saw” in silence and solitude, regaining the edge you need to keep cutting through life's challenges.
Control of Speech and the Need to Explain Ourselves
“It is the want to be heard, not the desire to talk, that breaks our quiet.” Thomas Merton (Thomas Merton) (Thomas Merton) (Thomas
We've already said that silence isn't merely the quieting of external noise, but also the cessation of internal noise. We put an end to useless conversation, gossip, and small talk in silence. We no longer feel compelled to voice our opinions. We also have control over the desire to explain ourselves to others, which is possibly the most important aspect.
We all want to believe that others understand us. We have a strong need to uphold our reputation, create our image, and justify ourselves. We want to know that every action we take is accompanied by an explanation of why we did what we did; we want to know that our actions are being interpreted appropriately (i.e., interpreted in the best possible light).
We also feel compelled to utilize speech (including “speech” in the form of images shared on social media) to demonstrate that we're alive and well; words and photographs serve as third-party confirmation of one's presence. If your photo appears in the local paper, your mother will be overjoyed; she already knew you existed and that you were great, but now she has public confirmation! We all have the ability to provide this kind of “evidence of life” through social media, and acting without documentation can be difficult. Did anything truly happen if you didn't tell anyone or didn't take a picture of it? Are you the real deal?
This urge to provide explanation and existential evidence is a sign of a need for others' acceptance, as well as a lack of faith in the worth and validity of your soul in the absence of external validation.
You learn to reject these compulsions in silence, happy to let your actions justify themselves. To do what you need to do and let others interpret your actions as they see fit. To be concerned only with God's approval and your own conscience' acceptance.
Why is it that the majority of people rarely encounter isolation and silence, despite the fact that they seem to scratch a basic human itch and, when followed as spiritual disciplines, may give such an edifying influence on the soul?
When was the last time you purposefully carved out time to pursue these activities as disciplines, much less find yourself in a space of sheer isolation and silence?
From morning to night, if you're like most people, your life is undoubtedly filled with noise (both audible and non-audible). You check your phone and switch on music or the radio as soon as you wake up. The stereo is turned on when you get in the car to travel to work. You're never completely disconnected from the people around you at work, or from your phone, which provides a continual stream of information throughout the day. After work, it's another music- or podcast-filled ride to a noisy gym, followed by a trip home to talk with your family, surf through your phone, and watch Netflix. Even if you're not actively attending to it, you can listen to music or watch TV in the background to keep yourself company. Even the briefest moments of silence feel empty and unsettling.
There are various reasons why humans cling to noise like this so tenaciously, ignoring the constant but easily drowned-out cry of stillness and solitude:
Discomfort With Boredom
Silent alone can be exasperatingly monotonous due to the lack of distractions, noise, and stimuli. Humans despise boredom. It's annoying, inconvenient, and unneeded. As a result, people will go to great lengths to ease it (even giving themselves painful electric shocks).
However, it turns out that boredom is essential for a healthy mind and soul. According to studies, as Manoush Zomorodi told me in my audio discussion about her book, Bored and Brilliant, “When you let your mind wander and blank out, certain extremely essential things happen:
“That is when we conduct some of our most innovative and creative thinking. We take diverse ideas and combine them to create new thoughts.
We construct our own concept of self. It's self-referential processing, or the process of putting together a cohesive picture of ourselves. We play a game called theory of mind in which we try to imagine what other people are thinking. We develop empathy with them, and we engage in a process known as autobiographical remembering and planning, in which we reflect on our life, mark the highs and lows, create a personal story, draw lessons from it, and then move on. We have something called perspective bias, where we look to the future and anticipate what our life may be like, and we make goals for ourselves and break down the actions we need to take to achieve those goals.
You may argue that the ability to think about “Who am I?” is what makes humans human. ‘Where do I fit in the world?'
Boredom is best compared to physical exercise in that it may not feel good in the short term, but it makes us better and stronger in the long run. A fundamental technique to develop the soul is to face and embrace boredom via the practices of isolation and silence.
Fear of Facing the Self Without Distraction
We avoid quiet and solitude for the same reason we avoid self-examination: we're terrified of what these disciplines might reveal about ourselves.
We must stare directly at our motivations, values, compulsions, loneliness, and disappointments in a space of silent solitude, without the option of avoiding our sight with a distraction. That which we usually hold at away with loudness becomes visible. Puritan theologian John Owen put it thus way: “That is exactly what we are, and nothing more. They are either the best or worst of our times, in which the principle that governs us will manifest and operate.”
What do you think about when you get a few moments to yourself? Do you consider God, your aspirations, lofty aims, and principles when you think about God? That are the people who require your assistance? Or do you consider who has been wronging you recently? You still have grudges against someone? Do you have any images that you don't want your wife to see? Do you like the guy you meet while you're alone? If you don't, you might be tempted to turn on the background noise to avoid having to address him.
However, if you avoid this encounter, nothing in your life will ever change since you will be unaware of which areas of your soul require attention.
Have you ever been depressed about something or uneasy about how your life was going, and instead of sitting with your feelings for a time, you went online? In the midst of it all “You quickly forgot what you were worried about thanks to the “noise” of the internet… but you also missed an opportunity to get to know yourself better and take action to remedy whatever had caused the empty feeling in the first place.
Lack of Motivation in the Absence of an Audience
Reality show producers claim that the popularity of their shows is on the rise “When these series' stars cease filming, they frequently get melancholy. Their lives appear less essential, meaningful, and authentic without cameras following them about. While this may appear pitiful, it's really simply a version of what most of us go through when we leave behind “For a period of silent seclusion, I abandoned my “regular” life.
Life can appear less significant and acts less worthwhile in the absence of an audience. Without the kind of third-party validation we discussed earlier, our reality can appear more flimsy. Nobody is evaluating your report, verifying your hours, or complimenting your work. There's no one to offer you a thumbs up, either physically or digitally. In silent solitude, as Adele A. Calhoun describes it in her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, “The world of acclaim, achievement, and praise vanishes, and we are left alone in front of God.”
Dealing with this can be difficult “The lack of intrinsic motivation that comes with performing in front of others, as well as “nakedness.” When we think and act for no one but ourselves, though, we can better determine what thoughts are worth thinking and what actions are worth taking.
The Perception That Silence and Solitude Are Luxuries
There have been individuals who believe that seeking silent solitude is “indulgent” an attempt to avoid the cares and responsibilities of everyday life since ancient times.
However, as shown above, these states are more comparable to sleep than recreation or relaxation, and are better conceived of as essential human needs. Silence and solitude are necessary for people to function at their best in their daily lives on mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. Solitude can be used as an escape or a hideaway from reality, but it can also help you embrace it more effectively.
We despise solitude because it feels inexcusably unproductive, but it is the oil that keeps our lives running smoothly.
The Feeling That There's Not Enough Time
This is arguably the most popular justification for not devoting time to solitude and silence.
Fortunately, this is the easiest difficulty to deal with and overcome, as it stems from misunderstandings about what these disciplines really entail.
“If we have inner solitude, we don't fear being alone because we know we're not alone.” We also have no dread of being in the company of others because they do not have authority over us. We are settled into a deep inner calm in the midst of noise and commotion. Whether alone or with others, we always have a portable sanctuary of the heart with us.” Richard Foster (Richard Foster)
Many individuals fantasize about isolation and silence in the same way they fantasize about owning a second home on a lake, quitting their work, or touring the world something they can enjoy vicariously but not realistically. They are attracted to these disciplines, but they do not pursue them. Silence and seclusion are firmly entrenched in the category of “Wouldn't it be lovely if…”
Because people imagine (consciously or unconsciously) that they must do something similar to Fermor shut up in a monastery for a weeks-long retreat to experience these emotions in a worthwhile way, solitude and quiet feel like an unachievable adventure fantasy.
It's true that achieving the level of immersion Fermor experienced can't be done on the spur of the moment. And if you have time in your schedule for a long retreat or even a few days of solitary camping/backpacking, you should definitely take advantage of what will almost certainly be a life-changing experience.
If your life is now in overdrive and you can't even get away for a weekend, let alone a week, there are still plenty of opportunities for stillness and alone. You don't need to become a full-fledged monk to practice these practices; instead, you can create your own hermitage right in your own home.
“Withdraw four times a year for three to four hours in order to realign your life goals. This is a simple task that can be completed in one evening. Stay late at work, do it at home, or go to a large library and locate a peaceful area. Rethink your life's aims and aspirations. In a year's time, what do you hope to have accomplished? What will it be like in ten years? We have a propensity to overestimate what we can achieve in a year while underestimating what we can achieve in 10 years. Set attainable goals, but be open to dreaming and stretching.”
Everyone, regardless of circumstance, can make time for these little, periodic escapes from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Second, think about how you can add pockets of isolation and stillness into your regular routine. Often, you won't need to modify your schedule at all; instead, you'll just need to tweak and improve a few behaviors you currently have, keeping these recommendations in mind:
- You don't have to be physically secluded to benefit, but the more you are, the better. As previously mentioned, isolation can be found even in a crowded environment if you socially detach from people. However, the more physically alone you might be, the more isolated you will feel. When you're out on a hike, simply seeing and waving at another person in the distance might transform your experience of solitude, as psychologist William James noted. You don't have to travel far to be alone; simply find a quiet nook or closet in your home, or a park bench away from traffic. Pursue solitude to the greatest extent possible.
- Turn off all sources of input, particularly your phone. If you don't use these pauses to check your phone or listen to music, there are numerous moments in your day that are already suited to silence and solitude. You pop the gossamer walls of these potential pockets of quietude as soon as you put in your earplugs or swipe through your apps.
- Consecrate the time on purpose. Even if you pass through times of stillness and alone unknowingly, they are beneficial to your mental health. However, if you want to get the most out of these disciplines, you must actively devote time to them and commit to using them as a spiritual salve.
With those ideas in mind, here are a few places where you might discover isolation and stillness in your daily life:
- Wake up 20 minutes earlier than the rest of your family, or if you're a night owl, stay up a little later than the rest of the family.
- Treat your shower as if it were a castle of seclusion. Every day, it's the closest most of us come to a monastery cell.
- Run or workout in silence every day. I understand that your music gets you psyched up and makes your workouts more enjoyable. When you workout in silence, however, you'll be surprised at how many insights come to you. When the beats of your music pierce your intuition bubbles, they never get a chance to rise to the top. Exercising in the lack of noise can be tedious at first, but it's a habit that you'll grow accustomed to and eventually appreciate. Don't only skip the music during your workout; leave your phone at home as well. Otherwise, you'll check it at the end of your workout, cutting short what could have been a longer period of peace and alone.
- Taking the bus to work in silence is a great way to start the day. Your car is a mobile refuge that is largely underutilized. On every solitary drive, you can obtain perfect seclusion and silence. A drive without music, radio, or podcasts may seem interminably tedious at first, but keep in mind that this isn't necessarily a bad thing. You don't have to spend your entire ride in silence, but you should devote a few minutes to it.
- If you can't bear driving in silence, take a few minutes to sit quietly in your car once you get at your workplace's parking lot. Before you dive into the commotion and stress of your shift, take advantage of the silence and solitude. Leave your phone at the office and dine at a peaceful park during your lunch hour.
- Stop by a church that keeps its sanctuary open on your way home from work and sit in a pew for 10 minutes. If you don't know of a church with an open sanctuary, hospitals frequently have a chapel that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Before going to bed, sit in your closet for five to ten minutes. It may sound unusual, but a closet's enclosed space feels weirdly solitary and creates a cloistered sense that is out of scale to the actual situation.
There are several ways to expressly practice the discipline of quiet that do not necessarily require solitude:
- Rather than getting out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off or checking your phone as soon as you wake up, lie in silence for a few minutes; you'll often receive quite powerful insights at this time. Don't check your phone for the following 20-30 minutes to extend this silent start to your day.
- Perform your morning grooming/dressing ritual without the use of music, radio, or podcasts. Your mind will be free to wander as long as your body is kept busy with routine tasks like shaving and dressing.
- Eat your meals alone, away from your phone or any other source of distraction.
- Take a look “Tech Sabbath” is a 24-hour period when you don't use any electronic gadgets (with a screen).
- Consider this: “Input Sabbath” entails not just putting away your electronics, but also refraining from reading, listening to music, or reading publications in fact, any human-created input at all.
Once you start looking for them, you'll find that there are a plethora of opportunities for silence and alone in spare times that just require little adjustments to your daily routine.
Do not feel as though these few moments of alone and stillness are insufficiently real or “authentic.” According to Donald S. Whitney, practicing these disciplines in the form of “minute retreats” develops the soul to be able to go deeper if the opportunity for a longer retreat arises. If you haven't been regularly exercising these “muscles,” you won't be able to receive any benefit from a prolonged period of silent solitude it will leave you bored and antsy. At the same time, these quick spiritual workouts keep your soul in good shape, producing results that are outsized in comparison to the time commitment.
What Do You Do During Times of Solitude and Silence?
What do you do with yourself once you've dug out a little corner of isolation and silence?
Calhoun views isolation as a “container discipline” since it is a discipline in and of itself, but it may also hold other disciplines. Silence, of course, is one among them, but there are others as well:
“Solitude reveals who we should be, while society reveals who we are.” Lord David Cecil (Lord David Cecil) (Lord David Cecil) (Lor
“Do not withdraw from the community into seclusion. Find God in the community first, and He'll lead you to solitude later.” Thomas Merton (Thomas Merton) (Thomas Merton) (Thomas
“It is simple to live according to the world's opinion in the world; it is easy to live according to your own in solitude; but the great man is he who, in the midst of the throng, retains the independence of solitude with perfect sweetness.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (Ralph Waldo Emerson (Ralph Waldo Emerson (Ralp
After reading this extensive list of the benefits of solitude and silence, one might conclude that these states are superior to those of community and society that life outside the crowd is more real than life within it; that we are only our true selves when we are alone; and that the more “authentic” solitude we can get and the less “artificial” society, the better.
While some persons are called to a life of utter solitude and silence as a vocation, the benefits of these disciplines are found in their contrast with society, not in their isolation from it. When compared to life spent together, the benefit of living apart is the different set of attributes and perspectives it provides. Silence and solitude are best used as complements to society rather than as replacements.
In truth, both solitude and community are essential; each serves as a critical augmentation and balancing mechanism for the other.
We gather fresh intuitions and ideas in solitude; in society, we test and validate them. “Profound visions occur in solitudebut so do enormous delusions,” Koch adds, “so public screening of our private pondering is vital.” The audience may point out flaws in our ideas, which we subsequently address in isolation.
We gain fresh insights in isolation; we have the pleasure of building on them in conversation with friends in society. Such debates generate their own insights, which we might then ponder in private. “The soul surrounds itself with companions, that it may enter into a greater self-acquaintance or solitude; and it goes alone for a season, that it may exalt its discourse or society,” Emerson exalted in this reciprocal dynamic.
We form bonds with folks in solitude that are stymied in some ways by the closeness of physical intimacy. That is, when we are apart from someone, we typically appreciate them more than when we are together. We get a chance to dwell on our affection for someone, the qualities they possess that we respect, and who they are to us outside of the immediacy of social engagement, the frenzy of response and counter-response. For example, I probably feel the most affection for my children when I think about them while laying in bed at night, rather than when we're together during the day. We are thus more willing to re-engage with our loved ones in the flesh after returning from the affection-swelling, love-reaffirming state of solitude.
In solitude, we can gain a greater understanding of ourselves; in society, we must be careful not to become too self-absorbed. Emerson stated it like way:
“Let him who can't stand being alone beware of community.” Those who are not part of a community should be wary of being alone. Each has its own set of hazards and dangers. “Those who seek solitude without fellowship perish in the pit of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair, while those who want fellowship without solitude perish in the void of words and sentiments.”
In what Henri Nouwen refers to as a “dynamic union,” society and solitude each constitute one half of a cyclic process; each state checks and propels the other. “The virtues of isolation find their fulfillment in meeting in a variety of ways,” writes Koch.
While doing everything for the sake of an audience restricts our ideas and behaviors, the desire to share the thrill and joy of discovering Truth and Beauty with others is not only human, but especially virtuous. As Koch puts it:
“We forget that, as Anthony Storr once put it, ‘art is communication… the work that is produced in solitude, implicitly or expressly, is intended at someone.'
The vast majority of solo creative effort is intended towards an audience… refusing to seek this communion is both immoral and self-defeating: the desire to keep what you have learnt to yourself is not just disgraceful, but also destructive. You lose everything you don't give freely and abundantly. When you unlock your safe, all you discover are ashes.”
“How sweet, how fleeting, alone is!” But give me a companion in my loneliness, to whom I can whispersolitude is sweet.”
How can I practice spiritual solitude?
“Things mirror themselves undistorted only in calm waters. “Adequate perception of the universe is only possible in a calm mind.” Hans Margolius (Hans Margolius) (Hans Margolius) (
It's no secret that we are inundated with communications every day. Advertising is a $412 billion-per-year industry in the United States that continually tells us what to watch, where to go, and what to buy. Our televisions, radios, laptops, newspapers, magazines, and morning commutes are all filled with their messaging. The industry eagerly spends this money because they know it will influence our minds, hearts, and spending patterns over time. When you consider all of the political pundits and experts that fill our airwaves telling us what we should think, it's evident that we're assaulted with messages that others want us to hear and believe virtually every second of our lives.
All of these messages begin to mold our life inexorably. The signals we get through our eyes and hearing do have an impact on our hearts and minds. And the loudest voices that get through steadily nibble away and re-form our lives (there's a reason they're shouting so loudly for our attention).
Whether you're seeking a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, “Whether you're living a “less is more” lifestyle or simply looking for better health and fulfillment in your life, adopting a solitude discipline will provide you with numerous benefits.
The opportunity to rediscover our lives is provided by solitude. By means of “We can eliminate the molding influence of others and refocus our hearts on our deepest ideals by “choosing to consciously withdraw from human relationships for a period of time.” We have the ability to assess our culture's assumptions, claims, and messages. We frequently discover that these shaping influences were erroneous all along. And it is because of them that we have lost our lives.
While anyone can practice solitude at any time by just finding a peaceful area to sit for a long amount of time, I've found the following suggestions to be especially useful in building a discipline of concentrated solitary:
Allow yourself plenty of time. Try 30 minutes if you're just getting started. Typically, the first 15 minutes are consumed by an active mind that is still racing. However, after around 15 minutes, your mind will have calmed down sufficiently to allow you to ponder deeply. The more time you give it, the further it will go.
Make a schedule. If all you want is an extra 30-45 minutes in your day for solitude, it will never happen. It is necessary to desire, schedule, and make time for alone.
Look for a quiet spot. Your environment will have a significant impact. Stay away from it “locations that are “fast-paced,” such as workplaces, kitchens, or any other place that reminds you of work Also, keep in mind that if your home is clear, you'll find isolation more rewarding.
Allow your thoughts to roam. There are no hard and fast rules on what you should be thinking about. Allow your mind to wander. As previously stated, it will skip around at the beginning. Your head will finally decide on something that your heart has been trying to tell you all along.
Don't give up simply because you don't like what you've discovered. It is not always a pleasant voyage into our hearts. We don't always like what we find when we peel back the layers of our hearts and discover our deepest motivations. This can be difficult for some, and it may force others to give up entirely. But don't do it. It's only a matter of time before you have a richer, more fulfilling existence.
If you do fall asleep, don't worry. While solitude is not the same as napping, if you find yourself falling asleep during these peaceful intervals on a regular basis, your mind may be trying to communicate with you. You should probably pay attention.
Pray. If you are spiritual, take advantage of this opportunity to connect with God. If you are not spiritual, isolation may bring you closer to God if you are willing to listen. We can't hear God because he communicates in a faint voice that is often drowned out by the world's noise, so we have to actively listen for it.
What is the biblical meaning of solitude?
When we are most alone, we realize God is right there with us. As we begin to address the things going on in our lives, thoughts, and existence, the solitude allows us to come closer to God. We can plainly understand what is significant in our life when we look at it from a Godly perspective. We get away from all the things that distract us from our reality when we spend time alone. We are able to glimpse inside our own life, thoughts, and actions. While we're alone, we can find calm that we can't find when we're surrounded by others. It allows us to unwind and de-stress after a long day. Yes, solitude can become loud with the clanging of thoughts bouncing around in our heads, but at least that clanging is isolated from the cacophony of noise brought in by the outside world.
What does it mean to practice solitude?
Meditation is a fantastic method to have some alone time. It amplifies the power of presence by concentrating on simply existing. Our ability to accept ourselves and consider others is strengthened when we use reflection to seek silence in the world. Meditation in the morning can help you reconcile your desires with your existing situation.
Meditation pulls you away from whatever difficulty or obstacle you're dealing with by focusing on an important practice that allows you to experience everything you do: breathing. That difficulty will very certainly persist after you have your period of alone, but your reaction to it will change dramatically if you concentrate on presence and consider how much influence you have over your own reactions and being. Focusing on a problem or event that persists in our lives allows us to consider a solution.
You can be alone because you have the ability to be. A quiet time isn't something you dread; it's something you relish. In an ever-connected society where we may use electronics while standing in line or listen to music while walking 300 yards, taking a step back and getting some silence is good. Silence promotes contemplation. Relaxation and even creativity can be sparked by reflection.
What does the Bible say about silence and solitude?
Have you ever considered how often Jesus spent or attempted to spend time alone in silence? Although Jesus' formal career is thought to have lasted only three years, we find Jesus striving to get away from the crowds to spend time with the Father in silence throughout the Gospels.
If we were informed we only had a few years to fulfill our life's mission, many of us would rush to get as much done as possible. Isn't that what we're here for? We attempt to jam as much as we can into our days, weeks, and years.
But it's not only something Jesus does because He's God's Son. He instructs his followers to do the same. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted area and rest a while,” Christ advises them in Mark chapter 6. Or when he is alone and his followers are present in Luke chapter 9, while he is praying. If you read the Gospels carefully, you'll note that Jesus' ministry always includes time for silence and seclusion.
So, what is it about being alone and spending time in silence that makes it so worthwhile? Why does Christ not simply practice what he preaches?
In a nutshell, Scripture teaches us that we must have silence in our lives in order to properly listen to God. Take, for example, Elijah's story. He is hiding from Israel's citizens. They've turned away from God (again), and this time they're out to eliminate all of the LORD's prophets.
Elijah is full of doubts he has done everything correctly in the eyes of God, but horrible things continue to happen to him. It has left him feeling befuddled and bewildered, and he longs to hear from God in this time of affliction. As a result, he goes out to the mouth of the cave where he is hiding and waits for God. Strong winds, earthquakes, and fires pass by, but God remains silent. God, on the other hand, communicates in hushed tones.
It's an excellent reason to spend some time in solitude if God isn't found in spectacles but rather in quietness. Isn't it true that we, too, are on the lookout for answers? In difficult circumstances, we question where God is. We are looking for His will and answers to our prayers.
So What Stops Us?
Our current culture isn't particularly fond of taking time away from the rat race to listen for God in silence. Taking time to be alone isn't always okay. Silence and solitude go against productivity and continual electronic connectivity, both of which are widely prized.
Jesus, on the other hand, invites us to come and rest in Him. Jesus informs us in John 10 that He has come to give us life to the fullest. You can be confident that if He teaches that spending time in silence and alone is beneficial to the whole Christian path.
Brothers and sisters, if you are having difficulty hearing from God, or if you are distracted by the world, or even if everything is going well for you right now, you are urged to prioritize some stillness and isolation to be with God. Make time in your schedule to listen for God. Give yourself permission to step out of the rat race and live out one of Jesus' teachings.
May you uncover the blessings that can only be realized when we take the time to listen to and experience God in the present moment.
Set an alarm for 5 minutes
I make it a habit to read the Bible (almost) every day. However, I'm prone to reading for the sake of getting the job done rather than listening for what God wants me to hear. As a result, after I've finished reading and penning some analytical remarks, I set my phone alarm for five minutes and practice stillness. I take a deep breath and wait for God to speak to me. I still have a lot to learn about this discipline, but even in its most basic version, it compels me to slow down and concentrate on listening.
Don't touch that dial
I've gotten into the habit of fastening my seatbelt in the car, and I'm also really good at turning on the radio while driving. But there are moments when I prefer to stay silent and listen. “Is there anything else you want me to hear, know, or do, God?” I don't always do this, but it's more enjoyable than listening to talk radio, ads, or changing stations in quest of the ideal tune.
Stay unplugged when exercising
When I workout, I like to listen to music or podcasts, but I also prefer working out in silence. This allows me to reflect, listen to God, and pray. I only do this about a quarter of the time, but when I do, I notice that I'm sharper, more creative, and more tuned-in to what God is up to in and around me.
Put yourself in the story
Stop after you've finished reading the Bible and imagine yourself in the situation. How would you react if you were one of the charactersor if you were a bystander? Retell the story to yourself in your imagination and pray as you go. Imagine being there and pleading with God to guide you. In what ways does the story allude to contemporary events?
How do you get to solitude?
First and foremost, accept that solitude will be tough to come by. Our society is designed in such a way that quiet alone time is discouraged. Advertisers, applications, television, friends, and family all vie for our attention. This climate has made us all apprehensive about being alone in solitude. Years of external stimulation have strengthened our neurological circuits, making us need more of it.
Breaking this loop is critical for our survival and the survival of our species. Turning within, rather than adding another task to your to-do list, is the only way to discover our deepest purposeand the best method for us to help the world.
Here are the best tools I've found for finding solitude in the midst of 2019's tumult. They're straightforward, but the best answers are frequently straightforward.
Get up early.
I've been standing on my early morning soapbox for a long now, and I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. You won't realize how beautiful the early morning hours are until you've made it a habit. It takes weeks of persistent trial and error to establish a habit, but once you do, you get to enjoy the world each day before answering phones and emails, before other humans are awake and generating noise, and before your mind begins to chatter.
My favorite part of the day is the first hour. I can think clearly and receive messages from my deepest soul in this quiet.
Richard Branson (Virgin), Oprah Winfrey, Tim Cook (Apple), Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo), and Jack Dorsey (Twitter, Square) are just a few of the people that wake up before 6 a.m.
Run, walk or bike.
Physical activity is the ideal companion for isolation. Your mind quiets and you gain a new perspective on your life and all of its complexities when you put on your shoes or hop on your bike and leave the house to explore the world. This isn't something you can do while sitting at a desk.
- Avoid the treadmill or stationary bikea it's pain when compared to getting out and about.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Jay-Z run, Boeing's Dennis Muilenburg and Brent Bellm (BigCommerce) bike, and Impossible Foods' Dennis Woodside competes in Ironman triathlons.
It's no longer just for kids! Daydreaming is now widely accepted as a healthy and beneficial brain activity by scientists. When our thoughts wander, “Marcus Raichle, a neurologist at Washington University, adds, “It's really accomplishing a huge amount.”
Daydreaming will divert our attention away from the task at hand, but our brain will be working on other things while we're doing so. It gives voice to our subconscious, which contains much of our wisdom, goals, dreams, and motivations. Hyperfocus, on the other hand, can keep us from accomplishing our goals “Generating new ideas and solutions,” says researcher Jeffrey Davis.
Much of our creativity comes from our subconscious mind, and tapping into this natural skill is the only way to perform outstanding work. Are you still not convinced? According to a 2012 study, those who took a break from hyperfocus were better at solving difficult problemsby 41%.
Albert Einstein's extraordinary use of his wandering mind is renowned. He came up with his special theory of relativity when he was 16 years old, imagining what he would see if he could travel at the same speed as a beam of light.
If you're a good driver, you've probably had the experience of getting in your car and arriving at your destination with no recollection of the ride. Your thoughts wandered in the silence.
Complicated driving necessitates your brain's higher executive functions (i.e., your attention), while on routine routes, the duty is delegated to your frontal lobe. Always drive cautiously, but remember that long drives provide opportunities for creative thinking.
Highway driving is particularly monotonousand a great place to get some alone time. I used to drive two hours every other week to see my long-distance lover when I was in university. Some of my best recollections are from that time alone with my thoughts. Through those peaceful contemplation, I was able to solve a number of problems.
At the age of 58, Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck embarked on a 10,000-mile car journey. He went on to write a best-selling book on his time alone with his dog.
Make a reservation for one.
My mother adored repeating the story of how she once walked into a restaurant and requested for a table for one, only to be told, “Oh I'm so sorry,” by the host.
Dinner alone bears a stigma for unclear reasons. However, after weeks in the villages creating a renewable energy firm in Zambia, my favorite thing to do was go to a movie by myself and then indulge on a steak supper and glass of wine. When I know my wife will be gone for the night, I still do the same thing.
Taking the person you love the most in the world (ideally yourself) out on a date is a wonderful gesture of self-care. You'll wake up feeling revitalized and ready to accomplish your best work the next day.
The paparazzi have caught Daniel Radcliffe (yes, the Harry Potter) eating alone, as have Renée Zellweger, Tom Hanks, and even Bill Clinton. Their entire lives have been based on their celebrity, but even they require a solitary date again and then. You are free to do so as well.
Go camping by yourself.
I was stuck a few years back. My company was just breaking even, so I started selling credit card processing machines door to door part-time to make ends meet. I couldn't seem to make any progress, no matter how hard I tried.
I rented a car on a whim, drove into Algonquin Provincial Park, and spent two nights alone in the bush, miles from civilization. As I faded to sleep, I watched the steam rise from the lakes, peered into the bonfire for hours, and listened to bullfrogs.
My thinking became clearer without the city's distractions. I realized exactly what I needed to do. When I got home, I quit my sales position, which was making me miserable, and liquidated my company's assets, saying goodbye to a corporation that wasn't helping me achieve my highest goals.
Now, every summer, I go on solo camping vacations and have life-changing epiphanies.
You're not a fan of the great outdoors? That should be changed. By moving outside of our comfort zone, we can grow. It doesn't have to be a three-day, 35-kilometer hike your first time. Begin by looking for a peaceful campsite where you can park for the night. Alternatively, go for the day. Nature is just too vital to be overlooked. You don't have any wheels? Park shuttle buses are available in several cities.
Henry David Thoreau, a famous 19th-century philosopher and writer, lived in the woods for two years, two months, and two days. Walden, the book Thoreau wrote about his experience, is an all-time classic that I read every year to remind me of the uplifting effects of alone in nature.
Simply said, we're all too damn busy. We cram our lives with activities and brag about it, but how many of us are striving to cure disease or bring world peace? The majority of our efforts are in vain because we haven't taken the time to consider what we truly desire in our brief life.
The answer is solitude. Make time for yourself to be alone, and your heart will tell you the same thing.
Why is solitude important?
Going alone can allow you to connect with nature, test your body, and enjoy some quiet time. Researchers believe that spending time alone in nature might help people focus on their objectives, appreciate relationships more fully, and create better goals in the future.
When did Jesus practice solitude?
Jesus would withdraw from the crowds and spend time alone with the Father. He did it a lot in the mornings when it was still dark (Mark 1:35). Jesus was able to devote his complete concentration to God by praying late at night or early in the morning, on a mountaintop or in a remote location.
How can I practice solitude at home?
- Train your mind to create images, scenarios, or optimistic possibilities through creative visualization.
- Pay attention to the noises of the birds or even the city. Thank God for what you've heard.
- Find a quiet place to observe in a park, on the beach, or along a hiking trail.
- Look for an interesting tree or sculpture to talk to yourself about what it means to have this time to yourself.
- Go to a flower shop or look for a garden. Consider the delicate beauty of the petals.
Making time to be alone in our hectic lives can be challenging and even terrifying. Silence and solitude are often feared by people because they evoke feelings of loneliness. However, there is a significant difference that you will notice if you set a date with yourself.
Solitude uncovers hidden treasures within us, things that can be both uplifting and restorative. Men and women often do not pay attention to their inner world until they are in conflict or in suffering. And all too frequently, instead of turning to their own inner resources, people turn to a pill, a bottle, or a narcotic for comfort. It does not have to be this this. We've been indoctrinated as a society to look for aid outside of ourselves. Those who make time for moments of alone, on the other hand, will find that the effort yields insights, solutions, and a sense of calm. Watson (Watson, 2000)
Why do I find peace in solitude?
Solitude can help us recognize and appreciate crucial personal relationships while also motivating us to reorganize our priorities. We can clarify, assess, and redirect ourselves by setting more authentic goals for the future when we practice solitude; it can also prompt a new or renewed consideration of the spiritual and/or religious aspects of life that may have been suppressed or pushed to the back of our minds.
Solitude, particularly in nature, can heighten spiritual awareness by bringing us closer to God or something larger than ourselves. It has the potential to encourage people to tune into spirituality in all of its forms.