Solitude Helps You Live a Far Better Life

Bill Abbate

Solitude. Don't you love the sound of the word? It reminds us of peace and calm, something most of us could use in our lives. We have so little time to slow down and experience true solitude; we may have forgotten what it was like.

With the constant busyness of the current age, how can solitude help us? How can we integrate it into our lives? How would doing so benefit us? Let's explore these important questions.

The importance of solitude

"In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion." Albert Camus (1913-1960)

Experience teaches us it is good to stop what we are doing and get away from the mad rush from time to time. In today's world, information and visual stimulation constantly bombard our minds. The positive effects of taking even small breaks are well documented, with numerous benefits, yet how often do we take them? If we have difficulty taking even small breaks, what makes us think we can find true solitude?

Yet, without reading the volumes of information on why it is good to take a break or to find solitude, we inherently know it is a good thing to do. If for nothing else, we need to do it for our health and well-being. I find my biggest leaps forward in life often come after times of solitude

Have you ever considered why people in the past could think such deep thoughts? They existed without the modern conveniences we enjoy today. Yet with all of these conveniences, we have less time to think! Think about that for a minute!

"Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character." James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

Integrating solitude into your life

Before continuing, let's get clear on exactly what solitude is and what it is not.

The definition in the Oxford Dictionary is "the state or situation of being alone." Most of the time, when you find solitude you will be alone. Although it is possible to find solitude in the presence of others through practice, it is far more effective when you are by yourself.

By the way, solitude is not loneliness, as they are entirely different ways of being.

"Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment." Richard J. Foster (1942-present)

You can practice solitude practically anytime and anywhere. Experiencing even a few moments of solitude can be helpful while practicing solitude more frequently can be life-changing.

Let me give you an example of my personal practice of solitude. For many years now, I find solitude each morning. Since I have always been an early bird and my wife is a night owl, I almost always have a couple of hours of quiet time each morning. It is then I find the silence I need, building peace and contentment in my life. After a brief scripture study, I sit and enjoy the silence and practice being mindful.

This practice has benefited me by adding peace and gratefulness to my life. The time I spend clears my mind and gives me thoughts I would never have had before starting to practice solitude. I find my journal invaluable during this time and have filled many over the years with what I learn.

How can you practice solitude in your life?

Solitude is about creating space for yourself. It is about setting time aside to be without pressure, uninterrupted, and alone. The only thing with you is your thoughts.

Find the time and place where you can begin to practice solitude. It can be almost anywhere at any time, but the quieter, the better. If we never find a quiet place where we can slow down, we will continue to rush through life, not making the best use of our time or the best decisions for our lives.

When you find this place of solitude and some time, you can use it to slow down, clear your head of all of the junk you encounter in life, and find a few moments of peace and quiet.

Turn off any electronic device such as a phone or computer. Remove your watch if you wear one and put it out of sight. If there is a clock in view, face away from it, or at least close your eyes.

As you enter the silence of solitude, pay attention to your breathing. Notice each breath. Tune in to your heartbeat. Notice the tension throughout your body and release some of it each time you exhale. Release the tension from your forehead, around your eyes, from your cheeks and jaw, from your neck, and on down your body.

Don't rush yourself. Take some time. Try to clear out all thoughts of things you must do, of anything that creates tension. Think of peace, joy, and happiness. Think about someone you love or a wonderful time of your life for a moment or two.

Now, open your mind and listen. Sit quietly. What do you hear? Listen to the sounds around you. Listen to the silence itself. Stay in this place long enough to allow your mind to be free from all stress, entering the calm of the stillness.

What thoughts come to you? What do you want to remember? With a pen and paper, preferably a journal, record what you wish to retain.

"Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life." Paulo Coelho (1947-present)

The benefits of solitude

The benefits of practicing solitude are numerous. If you want more peace in your life, practice solitude. If you want to reduce stress and tension, practice solitude. If you want more wisdom, practice solitude. If you want more life in your life, practice solitude! A few of the many benefits practicing solitude can bring to you include:

  • Learning more about yourself through self-reflection
  • Improving your health and well-being
  • Enhancing your burnout resistance
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Improving your health while calming you down
  • Enhancing your perspectives about life, work, family, and many other things
  • Providing you with time to think about the things that really matter in life
  • Getting in touch with your faith and hearing God speak into your life
"Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self." Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)

Final thoughts

A little solitude sounds invigorating, doesn't it? Imagine the peace you can gain from getting some quiet time in your life. Imagine what thinking more deeply and clearly can add to your life. Can you feel the satisfaction this will bring? The life you will gain?

Stop, breathe, release the tension, notice, and allow the benefits of solitude to enter your life.

"In solitude we give passionate attention to our lives, to our memories, to the details around us." Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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