Solitude, Required Thinking


In solitude, thinking is involuntary; sometimes required of you. From the seeds of cognition, a greatness is born within that 3 pounds of neurological network you’ve got upstairs. It grows from the smallest spec of matter, floating in its own little existing corner of the universe like a glob of spacedust. And the only one who can nurture it is you.

That particle is inside of you right now; illuminating the smallest neuron of your brain, unbeknownst to symmetry everywhere. Your consciousness might not even yet be aware of its existence. That’s okay though. Just means that it’s not time for you to discover it yet.

I’ve only just begun to discover mine.

Silence is where your brain thrives. Anything and everything is capable of being born. Imagination is a wild and reckless place, easy to either lose or become lost in.

Or fall dormant to white noise.

According to Gregoire, neuroscience senior writer at The Huffington Post, “…making time for [silence] can make you feel less stressed, more focused and more creative.”

Meditative practice is rooted in this concept with good reason. Ancient cultures figured this out long ago. Logical human progress led us to this. So why do we limit ourselves with constant noise? Why do we seek to fill our heads with music and TV? Social media, video games, billboards, podcasts with endless sponsors, the traffic wrapped down the block. All of it. It’s always on.

Even the self-narration we generate inside ourselves.

You need to take some time to press mute. Escape to the sounds of nature or put on some noise-cancelling headphones. In common meditative practice it is considered sanctuary to be in utter silence.

Tim Ferriss explains the notion quite well in this short podcast.

“[M]indfulness helps cultivate appreciation,” he writes. “After just a week of mindfulness practice, you will complain less, react less, and more effectively fill your life with what’s important and valuable to you.”

This seems like it should be common knowledge, but more often than not it goes glossed over. I was only introduced to this metacognition after my undergraduate work at Rider. In the grand scheme of things, my understanding of it is infantile.

And even more so, it takes practice.

“[M]indfulness, and the related mental powers it bestows upon its master, is a skill acquired with grit and practice, rather than an in-born talent or an easy feat attained with a few half-hearted tries,” writes Popova, author of the great Brain Pickings.

One thing that I’ve learned in my short time though: silence is what cultivates that realization, that sense of self. Creativity, imagination, productivity, and peace are all born out of complete solitude, even if only for 10 minutes.

You’ve got to take some time to turn everything off. For your own good.