EDITION: October - December 2014

The Power of Solitude

Text: Ruth Osborn
Solitude is a powerful investment in you and spending quality time alone can help your development, awareness and self-knowledge. As we strive for a balanced lifestyle, it is often one aspect that we neglect. Having a dose of alone time, as well as a healthy social life, greatly benefits our wellbeing. Taking a few hours, a day or even a week for you may sound selfish, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Investing time in yourself helps you be a better, calmer, kinder and more giving person, which benefits both you and the people around you. It is important to remember to look after ourselves first so that we can truly look after others. If we neglect ourselves, then in the long run it can be to the detriment of our other relationships.   
Seeking solitude in our day and age is difficult, if not sometimes impossible. Not only as we often juggle many different roles – mother/father; husband/wife; friend, lover, worker… Somewhere in it all, sometimes, we can forget to just be us. When we spend time with just ourselves it reminds us who we are, the things in life that are essential to our identities. It allows us to think deeply about our lives, explore our emotions and allows us to hear how we are truly feeling. 

In our lives today we are almost constantly connected, distracted and interrupted through email, telephone and social media. There is always a chance that someone or something is going to interrupt what you’re doing, perhaps changing your plans, or the path of your life for that day. Or we actively wait for that something to happen, smart phones at the ready in case something more exciting is going somewhere else and we might miss it. What would happen if we disconnected from all forms of communication, just for a day or two? Instead of checking Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds, check in with yourself – you might learn something life-changing.
Without the distractions of daily life we can slow down, rest and recharge. In solitude you can clear out the cluttered closet of your mind, reflect on your life, and your hopes and dreams for the future. Having time away from the constant company of friends, colleagues and family can give you the space you need for clarity. Plan in some you time and simply do nothing: not cooking, shopping, cleaning, organizing, or working – just simply being. Rest, be still, truly and deeply relax. We are human beings, not human doings. 

Enjoy your time with you! If you’re nervous of spending time alone this will empower you. You’ll learn that you don’t need someone to go to the movies with, or to go for a walk. Do it solo, with your good self for company, and take some quality time for you. You might also enjoy the freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, following your thoughts, feelings and desires and setting your own agenda. Get to know yourself. You may find you return a more relaxed and more liberated you. If you are holding back from doing things you really want to do for fear of doing them by yourself, doing the occasional thing on your own will benefit you greatly. Your confidence and self-esteem will grow and your fears of being alone dissipate. Time spent in solitude provides us with an opportunity for personal growth. 

There are various ways in which we can seek solitude. Meditation is one of the primary ways in which you can be still and really connect with yourself. There are many good meditation guides online and books available to guide your meditation practice or give you tips on how best to start out. Or you can simply make a date with yourself, make you a priority and stick to it, spending that time productively with your thoughts, feelings and reflections. It is in solitude that you can learn to sit with your thoughts and feelings, even the uncomfortable ones, and learn not to react but to let them pass – an essential life skill that will make your life calmer and you and the people around you happier. It is in times of solitude that we can find pleasure and happiness within, instead of searching for it externally. •