Yesterday I wrote about loneliness and how although loneliness is a universally understood feeling, by redefining and changing our perspective on what we previously thought loneliness to be, we can start to move forward and re-write our stories.
This post on solitude will focus on how solitude is a healthy and necessary part of being human, and while it is nestled under the same branch as loneliness, it’s not as debilitating. For starters, solitude is an active choice in being alone. We can all appreciate that some ‘me-time’ is extremely beneficial for our mental health. Without time in solitude we would not be able to reset and refocus ourselves.
Finding our voice
When we embark on a journey of solitude we are saying to the universe that we want some uninterrupted time to give our minds free reign to wander as freely as they once did a long time ago.
We are becoming modern explorers travelling to unmapped places, challenging our boundaries and our stamina all in one. It’s both exciting and terrifying.
What will we find? Will it be beautiful? Who will I meet along the way? What new things will I discover and learn not only about myself, but about other people?
“We travel, after all, to escape the uncompromising corners of our domestic origins – the rigid ordering of the households where we were raised. We seem to need agitation, strangeness, rough texture, in order to grow, to explore.” – Michael Harris
Solitude calls us back to wisdom we have long forgotten. It tells us that experience, not things bring us our greatest joys. We have allowed ourselves to become cosy and comfortable in our boxes. We have willingly allowed ourselves to be pulled along by the blanket of domesticity because it is safe, but it’s claustrophobic. It doesn’t allow room for growth, for change, for new horizons and perspectives. We have made ourselves a padded prison cell. Sure, it’s the best cell available with all the modern fixtures and décor, but it’s not stimulating that buried urge, that need to discover how much more of you is out there.
It wraps your identity up in a neat parcel rather than expanding it and letting it move to where it wants to go. Your identity and who you are is not based on the roles you fulfil. E.g. mother, father, son, daughter, grandparent, lawyer, cashier, lover etc. Those are only your roles. They are not you. When you take all that away, and when you take yourself away from all your roles, who are you? Who were you before you took on the roles? Who were you before society dug in its claws? I’m not disregarding the roles you fulfil, they play a necessary part for society to tick by successfully, but they are not life. They are not you.
When we start to feel lonely, we realise that we are unhappy with just fulfilling the roles. We need something more. As we move into solitude we are consciously choosing to take away the labels and see what we are left with.
We choose to embark on solitude to become acquainted with ourselves. We won’t like everything we see, but what we will see is all of us. There is no-where to hide. You can’t stuff down the parts of you that you find abhorrent. Usually, they’re the first parts that confront us. They’re not too gentle with their appearance, often slapping us in the face and stamping over our stomachs – just to make us feel extra uncomfortable.
Even though the vast majority of us hate change, we need changing environments to stimulate our minds and our spiritual growth. Change allows us to piece together our own version of reality and we learn to think independently and for ourselves. Being constantly surrounded by people doesn’t give us the chance to comprehend the world let alone ourselves. We take on the preferences and ideas of other people because society tells us our worth is defined by how much we fit in, the roles we play, and how ‘Jonesy’ we are.
It is unfortunate that in our society we are wired all the time. We are so busy from the moment we wake that daydreaming is now an indulgent luxury. Giving ourselves time to daydream freely and wander the depths of our minds has become unaffordable. We make excuses, put other people first and complete our to-do lists before we even think about maybe daydreaming. How many to-do lists do you make whilst trying to complete the other one? It’ll never be complete. How can you give 100% to others, if you refuse to give 100% to yourself? If you’re giving yourself 50%, you’re giving others 50%, so give yourself the full 100%.
Daydreaming is so important. It’s where our greatest ideas come from. Do you remember the last time you let your mind wander and a marvellous idea came to you from out of the blue? It came to you because you let your mind wander, because you let yourself relax, because you indulged in giving yourself that extra 50%.
Benefits of solitude
- You start to learn who you are without the voice of others interrupting – your voice has a chance to be heard and speak up.
- Time to daydream – you get to give your mind free reign to wander and indulge fantasy.
- Reboots the brain
- Increases creativity and problem solving by disconnecting
- You have a better understanding of yourself
- You gain mental strength and personal liberty
- We give ourselves ability to reimagine ourselves
Give yourself up to solitude. Travel without movement, conquer outdated ideas, build new ideas and rediscover you. Taking time out in solitude, in nature, gives us that opportunity to piece together our world outside of influence and expectation. We’re given a chance to be independent again. To be ourselves. We’re given the chance to think freely, uninhibited and authentically.
• Are you afraid of solitude?
• How domesticated are you?
• What percentage do you give yourself? What percentage do you give others?
• Do you allow yourself to be in solitude? Do you think you deserve solitude?
• When was the last time you allowed yourself the space to be in solitude and to be you?
Sit yourself in a comfortable position and focus on your breath.
Imagine white light entering the crown of your head and flowing down your spine out into the ground and rooting you there.
Imagine you’re at a party filled with everyone you love.
Imagine being yourself with no shame, no reservations – just absolute confidence. What does that feel like? What part of your body does it sit itself in?
Let that feeling flow through your whole body and into your mind. Fully imagine it. What can you smell? What noises can you hear? What does the food and drink taste like? Imagine every part in as much detail as possible. Really enjoy this party of yours! It’s for you.
When you’re feeling low remember that feeling and build on it by doing things that increase the feeling. E.g. dancing to an upbeat song, laughing, getting creative, going for a run or a walk, doing yoga, cooking etc. Carry that feeling through into your life and make those good vibes a habit. Once it becomes a habit it has filtered into your subconscious and you will automatically make yourself feel good. Ain’t nobody got time for negativity!
Be happy. Be you.