The experience of solitude gets a bad rap. Perhaps it is because it bears the same first few letters as the term “solitary confinement”, or maybe most people simply equate it with loneliness. Either way, we impose limitations upon this term by only thinking of it in those ways.
I utilize solitude in my life differently from what those associations imply.
- I actively choose solitude to be an integral part of my life. It is not involuntary in any way, such as being the result of irrepressible depression or anxiety. Instead, it is a tool I employ to combat sad feelings.
- Solitude can be physical space and slow time for me to be alone with my thoughts and to clear space in my head to focus in on a question or conflict I need to confront.
- Solitude is my time to be alone with no one else’s needs to address but my own.
- Solitude is a forum in which I can openly express my feelings such as anger, sadness, grief, disappointment, or joy. There are no judgments and dismissals from other people in my solitude.
- Solitude creates valuable moments for reflection and contemplation.
- Solitude is stillness. The chaos and disarray of modern life fall outside of its calm and peaceful territory.
So, how do I incorporate solitude in my life?
Honestly, there is not much to it. I basically seek out moments in which I can be by myself.
- When I am driving my car by myself, I turn off the radio and any music. Only the hum of my car’s engine and my speedy tires create a soundtrack to the quiet stillness inside my car and in my head.
- I go on walks by myself. I am lucky to have a driveway that is half of a mile long and surrounded by trees and hills. I also walk as much as I can pretty much anywhere.
- I sit on a bench in a park or at a desk in a library and put my headphones on. Usually, my headphones are not attached to any devices. They effectively tell everyone around me that I cannot be interrupted, and they suppress the daily sounds of an outside world.
- The bathroom is often a sanctuary for solitude. I am alone and relaxed.
- I lie down on my bed or on a sofa when no one is around and let my thoughts wander.
Perhaps you get the picture by now. Every life, person, and situation is unique. Wherever and whenever you carve out time to be by yourself is your prerogative.
There are, however, some simple rules I follow when I experience solitude.
- I turn off all cell phones and digital devices. This includes anything that can play music.
- I take at least a couple of deep breathes at the beginning. Deep breathing gets me to relax significantly.
- I go to quiet places. They are most conducive to solitude. It is not always necessary, but I find that having fewer distractions around enhances the experience.
Within the continuous juggling act of my daily life, I carve out moments of solitude so that I can find clarity and stillness. This gives me the silent space to look around and take a proper inventory of my life and my struggles. Most importantly, it gives me time to be alone with my feelings and to sit with them. They often have much to say, and I need to listen.
Do you have time and space in your life for solitude?
You have an entire universe of your own making to explore with one gentle and surefooted step at a time.
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