Getting some time alone can be challenging. Work schedules, living arrangements, social commitments and the general frenzy of modern life can pull us from one interaction to the next. And even when we are alone, we often find ourselves interacting with others via the internet.
Many people are socially exhausted due to an overload of connectivity. They rarely get time alone, their emails never stop, their phone continually buzzes, and they are almost always in the middle of getting back to someone about something. And much of it is work related, or it’s spam, or social media alerts they’re not really interested in.
Communication can be tiring, and this is especially the case when there are expectations and demands. And furthermore, if the connectivity isn’t in any way meaningful, it makes it feel more burdensome.
But even the gentle presence of those we love can also, in some subtle ways, exert our energy.
We are sensitive beings. And whether we are conscious of it or not, we are highly attuned to the thoughts, emotions and feelings of other people. Our nervous system and our consciousness can begin to become overloaded.
Solitude is vital. So much so that every night your body imposes it on you in the form of sleep. Your consciousness can then fulfil it’s background tasks of organising information and processing your thoughts and feelings. But some solitude during waking hours can also be highly beneficial.
True solitude is when you disengage from the demands of other people, and you also detach from their thoughts and emotions. By disengaging and detaching from other people, you can fully rest and recharge. In the stillness of solitude, you restore your energy.
Solitude also allows you to more readily gain access to your authenticity. We need quiet time alone to fully embody and understand who we are as individuals. When we are alone, we can more easily plumb the depths of our creativity and gain clarity. We are able to see through the haze of social influences, and more clearly recognise our own perspective.
You don’t necessarily need to be isolated to experience solitude. But you do have to experience a sense of freedom where you feel unencumbered by obligations, demands or constraints.
If you live by yourself, this is easier to implement. You simply let any relevant people know that you won’t be available for a couple of days. Turn off your phone and unplug completely from the internet. No emails, no surfing, no social media. Similarly, don’t answer the front door and don’t open any letters that may arrive.
I also recommend that you don’t watch television, movies, listen to podcasts or read books. Your aim should be to give your consciousness a rest and to rejuvenate in the stillness. Practise relaxation techniques and meditate. Spend time in nature. Watch the clouds go by. Let go of your efforts and just allow inspiration to naturally percolate. Take a few notes of any new perspectives and ideas that arise.
If you live with other people, there are some life hacks that you could implement. For example, some couples find a balance by getting up and going to bed at different times. So, one partner rises very early and experiences solitude for a couple of hours in the morning. And the other partner goes to bed later and experiences solitude late at night when their partner is asleep.
But occasionally, it can be helpful to get an extended period of time alone — away from the exertions that relationships and social situations can cause. And even if you live alone, perhaps there are too many distractions and habitual patterns in your home.
So, you could make arrangements to go away by yourself for a weekend or longer. Perhaps rent an Airbnb in the countryside. Tie up any loose ends as best you can before heading off.
Getting time alone allows you a greater appreciation of the relationships you have. It can help to deepen connectedness with others and restore meaning to your relationships. This is because the reflection and contemplation you can access allows you to see other people’s perspectives — it allows you to perceive ways in which you can resolve indifferences. Sometimes, we can only fully appreciate a situation by removing ourselves from it and thereby gaining another perspective.
Solitude allows your mind to unravel and process things. And this can result in a stream of worries and fears coming to the surface. If you experience this, you have to realise that it was already there, bubbling in the background. Interacting with others, staying busy or distracting yourself was only delaying the inevitable.
It’s a good thing to face your worries, fears and emotions. And you can use time in solitude to process emotions, overcome worries and let go of grievances. The more you are able to independently deal with troublesome aspects of your life — the more confidence, resilience and inner power you will attain.
By embracing solitude, you develop a fortitude that grants you inner strength and serenity. You align yourself with inner trust. And by nurturing the sacred spark of your individuality, you experience a quickening towards authenticity. You become more attuned to your inner values, and this allows you to understand your priorities in life.