This year I have learned to savor solitude.
Being a full-time caregiver for my mother before she passed away in June certainly made me appreciate solitude.
Last Saturday, my mother-in-law’s “celebration of life” after her brave battle with ovarian cancer was attended by over 400 people. The service and gathering afterwards were lovely, but after weeks of being with people, my soul craved an escape to a quiet haven where I could peacefully be alone with my own thoughts.
As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
The word solitude is defined as the state of being alone. However, that can mean different things to different people. The word ‘solitude’ can take on a negative connotation and be paired with words like loneliness and isolation.
However, in this article I am referring to a few hours of peaceful, quiet solitude. As a quote by Paul Tillich so accurately describes, “Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”
Benefits of Solitude
Solitude can help you re-energize, reflect, and relax. When I force myself to be social all the time or when life gets too demanding, I feel all my energy, perspective, and joy draining out of me. All the hectic noise obscures my inner voice and thoughts. That’s why as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to embrace my need for quiet time and solitude.
Like most writers, I’m a bit of an introvert and must have time to meditate on spiritual matters, take quiet walks alone, write, and reflect quietly on the day’s events, I don’t consider it a guilty pleasure or selfish. When I honor my need for solitude, I become recharged and better able to help those around me,. I actually become a better person.
Even if you’re an extrovert, you can benefit from the simple pleasure of solitude, stillness, and quiet time.
A bit of solitude will give you an opportunity to connect with your spirituality, meditate, pray, and count your blessings. Being alone with your thoughts provides time to get to know yourself better, to reflect on your life, what you’ve learned along the way, and how those life lessons can help you going forward. You will have time to consider what you still want to accomplish. Quiet time will help you find your own voice and be more creative. Solitude gives you the chance to unwind and enjoy peace and tranquility.
As Albert Einstein wisely said, “Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature,”
Before you can find the peace that comes with solitude, you’ll need to let go of your worries, anxieties, and to-do lists. Be assured that the world can get along without you for a short period of time.
Find a place where you can escape the frenzy and hubbub of life. Disconnect from your phone, technology, and social media. You may have to schedule and create time for solitude, but it’s worth the effort.
Take a walk alone, find a shady spot under a tree and read a book, indulge in a cup of tea on your patio, or write in your journal in a comfy chair by a fire. It may be as simple as turning off your radio during your commute to work and simply letting your mind wander. Or sitting on a park bench during your lunch break where you can allow nature to sooth your soul.
Savor solitude, silence, and serenity. Never feel like it’s selfish or frivolous to indulge in some quiet time. Honor your need for solitude in this fast-paced and noisy world knowing that is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your loved ones.
Images courtesy of razvan ionut and anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.