Solitude: A life changing practice!
What is solitude? If you have no idea whatsoever what solitude is, this article is definitely for you.
Solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation where one withdraws from contact with people. This may be caused by circumstances or deliberate choice. Solitude is not to be confused with loneliness or isolation. In fact, solitude can be said to represent the joy of being alone while loneliness or isolation represents the pain of being alone. In this article, the solitude I will be referring to is that of short periods of solitude being practiced over a long period of time.
I first came into contact with the practice of solitude in a Christian leadership camp somewhere in November a few years back where I had solitude time for about 3 hours on the second last day of camp. It was at that point life-changing as it helped me make decisions to change my life for the following year. It gave me time to reflect on my daily activities, my spiritual walk and also my priorities. I then decided to make changes that would lead me to better academic grades in school and a closer walk with God. I decided to distance myself from some friends who were not aligned with my priorities and were leading me in the opposite direction. Overall, I made positive changes in my life after spending some time in solitude.
Benefits of solitude as discovered by many:
- Increases creativity
- Develops independence
- Avoid burnout
- Increase spirituality
- Improves concentration and increases productivity
- Gives you an opportunity to discover yourself and find your own voice.
- Provides time for you to think deeply
- Helps you work through problems more effectively
- Enhance the quality of your relationships with others
These are just some of the benefits of solitude that many have experienced. However, what has bugged me most is how I have not implemented solitude into my regular activities even when it is so beneficial and I have tasted its fruits more than once. So, after reading many articles about building habits and its benefits, I believe it is time for me to practice solitude time as one of my habits this year.
How To Spend Time in Solitude??
- Set apart time weekly
I set apart about a minimum of two days a week where I have two sessions of 30 minutes of solitude. Find a time where you would not be disturbed or burdened with other responsibilities and stick to those times. A good time to practice solitude is early in the morning or in the evenings. Try doing certain activities deliberately on your own too.
2. Decide on a place
A good place to spend time in solitude is a place with at least some greenery. Furthermore, try choosing a place outdoors. Fresh and clean air in the mornings especially can do wonders to one’s soul. Besides, when choosing a spot, choose somewhere comfortable where you can sit for a long period of time (30 minutes or longer). You can also choose to go for walks in the park or in the mall as long as you are able to experience solitude.
3. Remove distractions
As teenagers, we often have our smartphones with us all the time. But, we often short-change ourselves by not using one of its most useful features–AIRPLANE MODE! By switching your phone to airplane mode, you can safely focus on solitude time without worrying about that latest notification from social media. Any other distractions should be removed or minimized too.
4. Spend time in solitude!
So, what do you do when spending time in a state of solitude?? There are various activities and plans that one could carry out when in this undisturbed and fully focused state. But, today I would like to share with you what I do when spending time in solitude.
Firstly, I look UPWARDS at an Almighty God and praise Him that I’m alive and am able to even spend time in solitude. I take time to be grateful for everything in my life thus far. I then look OUTWARDS at my surroundings and immerse myself fully in the experience, Remember the five senses we learnt about in primary school/kindergarten?? I try to use all of them to enjoy my surroundings (tasting being the exception unless I bring a snack). Lastly, I look INWARDS and reflect on how I spent my time in the last few days since my last solitude session. I ask myself questions like “Did I continue with my good habits and changes that I wanted to implement? What can I improve about myself? How can I form a plan to fulfill a goal I have set??” and many more question. Basically, these questions are very personal in nature and forces me to take a good and honest look at myself. We never like to be told by others that we are doing something wrong. So, it should then be our practice to look out for our own faults and rectify them personally and what better time to do so than during this period of solitude?
Lastly, after coming out with practical steps to make changes in one way or another in my life, I record them. I do so by keeping them in a journal in Evernote or you can do so by using a small notebook (the traditional way). After that, I leave my solitude and slowly embrace the world feeling refreshed and ready to take on life once more.
If you have read the whole article and would like to begin practicing solitude , I encourage you to do so and hope that it will ultimately make you a better person. Thank you for reading.