On the benefits of solitude.
Solitude is a word that can feel negative or positive, depending on each person’s pre-conceived ideas of the word’s true meaning. If one associates the word with a feeling of loneliness, then a negative association becomes a part of the word. However, if solitude conjures up images of reverie or self-introspection or communing with nature, then the word becomes associated with something positive.
Let’s discuss the negative images that the word “solitude “ can invoke. For some “ solitude sounds too much like “solitary”, as in to be put into “solitary”.
For anyone who has been exposed to any good prison dramas on television, knows that to be put into “solitary” is a further punishment for those who are already punished by being in prison in the first place.
To be put into solitary is to be placed into an enclosed room alone for an unspecified amount of time. You will receive meals, but you get no social interaction, or sunlight, or moonlight. It is just you alone with your thoughts and fears. Your personal demons will poke their heads to the surface of your consciousness unbidden.
The ignorance of when this punishment will end is one of the worst things about it. Time seems to drag on in a molasses-like pace, and no clocks to tell you how much time has actually passed. There is also a possibility that hallucinations could be induced in such a state, though probably not pleasant ones.
Or perhaps solitude brings up the thought of playing “Solitaire”, a card game played alone. Perhaps this image reeks of loneliness to some rather than a fun activity.
If these are the images one associates with solitude, or even an image of being lost in the woods, it isn’t surprising that these individuals have such a distaste for the word “solitude”.
The benefits of solitude
On the other hand, “ solitude” can also spur some pleasant imagery for others. In this case “solitude” invokes a feeling of deep work, contemplation,and self-exploration.
This can also bring up images of a sense of self-rule and doing whatever one wants, whenever one wants.
Along with these images, solitude also conjures a feeling of communing with nature on nature’s terms. Watching the sunrise while your bare feet glisten from treading upon the grass bejewelled with morning dew.
Such lovely imagery aside, solitude does have a number of benefits for those who do not associate it with prison and utter loneliness. What are the benefits of solitude?
Only when we are alone for a prolonged period of time can deep, internal contemplation happen.
Along with intense self-reflection, solitude affords us the time and forced focus to produce what Cal Newport terms “Deep Work”. Deep work requires lengthy amounts of time in solitude, not just minutes.
Solitude is the apt time for formal meditation. One can focus on one’s in and out-breath during this meditation, or upon a mantra, or yantra (image used for meditative contemplation).
Solitude is a perfect opportunity to read, listen to music, listen to a podcast, or watch your favorite film or television show without being disturbed.
Alone time is also perfect for nap time.
Remember to balance the social aspects of your life with moments of solitude. You’ll recharge and grow because of it and experience the benefits of solitude