Making time for solitude in our busy schedules seems like a difficult and also a bit frightening proposition. Some feel it won’t make any difference plus who wants to be alone? ‘I will get bored.’ ‘I will feel so lonely.’ While others who religiously believe ‘Time is money,’ line up important tasks for the day and feel that getting them off the to-do list is their top most priority.
But once you try to find some me-time (which is not just about meditating), you will begin to appreciate what it does for you. It will reveal what lies within you and help you take an inward journey. When you intentionally withdraw yourself from human relationships for a certain period, you are able to focus on values close to your heart and manage to avoid shaping influence of others.
Let’s understand why solitude is beneficial.
Do you know anyone who is into creative arts, someone who likes to write, draw, compose music? Or maybe you yourself are a creative person.
The point I am trying to drive here is that to create anything worth value, you need a space where you can be alone for hours and work peacefully. Many artists prefer working in a private studio or a cabin.
Our brain comes up with new and creative ideas when allowed to wander. Agree?
Helps You Know Why You are Doing What You are Doing
In this maze of constant rush, impatience, and misdirected aspirations, most of us don’t know what we really want and where we are going.
We plan our vacations to the last detail, leave nothing to chance but when it comes to the larger picture, our lives, we don’t know how to make the most of it. Spending time alone helps us re-evaluate our lives and make sure that all this hustling and bustling has some meaning. That what we are doing is aligned with our goals.
Nothing is worse than spending later years of life thinking of all the things you did not do, chances you did not take.
Builds Mental Strength
Strong social connections foster a sense of belonging but solitude has its own benefits too. Most of us don’t like the idea of being alone but studies have shown that spending some alone time is linked to better stress management, increased happiness, and improved life satisfaction.
All these benefits contribute to building mental resilience and dealing better with overwhelming emotions and feelings.
Creates a Deeper Sense of Empathy
Feeling emphatic does not come easy to most people. It’s not like that it is entirely our fault but most times, the exigencies of our lives just make us a little numb and selfish.
When you seek solitude consciously, a change will come over you. You will be more sensitive to others’ feelings, experiences, and aspirations.
Helps You Know Yourself
How well do you know yourself? We always have a thing or two to say about most people but how do we size up ourselves. Are we doing we what we really want to do? Do our actions justify what we say?
Being alone makes you self-aware. You begin to get more comfortable in your own skin. Rather than getting influenced by external influences, you look within yourself. You begin to understand who you are and what values you cherish.
There are no strict rules around practicing solitude. You just need to find a quiet place to sit where you can spend an extended period of time.
Some of the tips that have helped me develop a routine of concentrated discipline:
It might seem hard at first to find time out of your schedule but start by setting aside at least 30 minutes each day. For the first 10 to 15 minutes, your monkey mind will keep jumping from one thought to another. Quite natural to happen. But your mind will slow down later and let you reflect quietly.
As you continue with the practice, your mind will find it easier to go deeper into the thoughts.
Find a Calm Location
Here are two scenarios: You are sitting by a lake at sunset and there are a handful of people around.
You are in a crowded bazaar carrying bags in both hands, jostling for space to walk, and your phone starts to ring.
When are you more likely to feel calm? The scenario one, most of you would agree. If you have really figured out how to stay calm in the second scenario, do contact me. I am sure you have mastered the art of zen.
When it comes to finding solitude, your surroundings make a big difference. For some, a dimly lit room might work while others might prefer a quiet location outdoors in a garden or a community center. Whatever you choose, make sure that the place doesn’t remind you of work.
Keep it Minimal
Dress up in comfortable clothes. Take a bottle of water. That’s all you need. No electronic devices, no phones. Minimalism is the mantra here.
Allow Your Mind to Wander
Some may say that you focus on a certain point on a wall or an object in the distance. You can. But there are no set rules regarding what you need to think about or where you need to focus. Let your mind wander. You may be bombarded with the most ludicrous thoughts and you may begin to wonder where all these thoughts are coming in from.
Give yourself some time. The mind will begin to settle and you will see what has been a source of frustration, impatience. It will be like putting a mirror to your heart. You will identify things that need your attention, that you need to work on.
Don’t Quit Just Because You Don’t Like What You Find
For most of us, everything in the world falls into two categories: wrong or right. Black or white. But most things are rather grey; neither black nor white.
And when you peer into your heart, you may want to categorize things you see into black and white but don’t. I am saying this because you will realize your deepest motivations and what drives them. And if you come across something unpleasant or don’t like what you see, don’t stop. Continue to dig deep. You will soon be able to make adjustments when you can see yourself in the clear waters of solitude and calm.
Don’t Worry If You Doze Off
It’s not desirable but if you consistently find yourself sleeping during these me-times, there might be a problem. It could be fatigue, an overthinking mind, or boredom.
Don’t discontinue these sessions. Your mind is trying to send some signals. Don’t ignore them. They are very likely to be a stepping stone to something beneficial and insightful. Listen to them closely.
You try hard to make so many things work. Be it your career, your health, your family; you leave nothing to chance. But in this process, you forget someone. Yourself.
Take care of yourself. When you feel good inside, your relationships with people will automatically improve. That’s why try giving solitude a chance. You will gain so much. And all it takes is some minutes every day.