“Understand that healing and growing can distance you from people who you once had a bond with, and it can also bring you closer to those who will heal and grow with you. The time in between can be difficult, but there is so much to learn in solitude.” ~ @themoontarot
There have been many occasions in my life where I’ve felt lonely. Some of these times I remember as incredibly painful; other times, I’ve relished in my solitude.
During some periods, I’ve even forced myself into seclusion, which comes easily to me as an introvert.
One thing all of these solo experiences have taught me is that it’s okay to be alone. In fact, with solitude, there’s a lot of self-growth to be had.
In today’s day and age, we’re expected to be social creatures. With the rise of instant messaging and social media, it’s easy (and addicting) to stay connected all the time.
This doesn’t mean it’s healthy, though. In fact, I’ve come to realize that solitude can be incredibly rewarding in a vast number of ways.
The Benefits of Solitude
Many nights of solitude have brought me epiphany moments. Ones where I have figured out what I actually want to do with my life. Ones where I’ve realized my spiritual path, and ones that have fueled new, exciting creative ideas.
Many authors, artists, musicians, and philosophers have attributed their best work to time spent in solitude. As Aldous Huxley once said, “The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”
We need time alone because…
- We can gain a deeper sense of self-knowledge when we are alone and can see what is important for us as well as what we need.
- We are better able to acknowledge our feelings and deep desires when nothing external, such as other people’s thoughts, perceptions, or expectations, stands in our way.
- We get space to quietly reflect and reassess, asking ourselves the questions that truly matter.
- We recuperate and recharge (especially necessary for introverts) when alone, which allows us to be more present with others when socializing.
- We can tap into our intuition and learn to trust ourselves and our decision-making.
By no means am I encouraging isolation. It’s not healthy to spend all our time alone.
However, I do want to challenge those feelings of discomfort that often arise when thinking of solitude.
Why Are So Many People Fearful of Solitude?
There’s no denying that for some, the idea of spending a day alone, without interaction, isn’t appealing whatsoever. Why is this?
Being busy, out and about with others, is a good distraction technique. When we’re surrounded by people, engaged in activity, we don’t face to face ourselves or our feelings.
Are you the type of person who has to be on the phone with others when walking to the store? Or, perhaps you feel a strong sense of disconnection after a few hours of no in-person interaction. Either way, you’re not alone.
Many people fear solitude because it’s unfamiliar. We don’t know what will happen when we finally face ourselves and are left alone with our thoughts and feelings, so we avoid it. But when we avoid being alone, we miss out on all the growth, healing, and creative inspiration that solitude can facilitate.
So, how do we move away from a place of fear when thinking about solitude to embracing its possibilities?
My Own Experience of Solitude
As a child, I was often content spending time alone drawing, writing, reading, and exploring the great outdoors.
During my school years I leaned into spending time with others, growing neglectful of my time with myself. The pressures of friendship groups, being sociable, and even ‘normal’ all took over my love for being alone.
By the time I’d graduated from university and stepped into the working world, I was so accustomed to spending time surrounded by people, I barely knew who I was anymore.
Coupled with confusion surrounding my career, a few failed relationships, and trauma from my childhood, I found myself in my mid-twenties reaching a pit of despair.
Following a messy breakup after a toxic relationship, living back at my parents’ house with no money, no job, and no self-love, I was forced into solitude.
I found myself alone in one of the darkest periods of my life, and it led to what I believed at the time to be an inescapable depression.
Each morning I’d wake up and lock myself away in my parents’ spare bedroom. I had few friends in town since I’d previously moved away to London, and I didn’t reach out to those I was still connected with because I was afraid they’d judge me.
It was just me and my cat spending hours alone in a small, dark bedroom. I cried a lot and I continually isolated myself. I hated the feeling of being alone, but in hindsight I needed solitude.
I was about to discover something magical—my inner strength and an infinite love of the universe.
What Solitude Brought into My Life
My story of the most profound period of solitude in my life isn’t a necessarily pleasant one, but I now recognize it as a turning point in my life.
When my depression hit rock bottom and I was feeling suicidal, I was overwhelmed with this inner strength that seemed to come from nowhere. It urged me to listen to what solitude was trying to teach me and helped me reconnect with my true self.
I had a new determination to pull myself out of my current state of despair and step into new territory. Unbeknown to me, I was about to enhance my spiritual journey and discover peace.
It was during a meditation session one night that I felt a warmth and deep love within me. I knew that there was a way out of my sadness, that being alone had the potential to teach me more than any book could.
In the days following my realization and connection with a power I still can’t describe to this day, I gained the courage to step outside the house.
I started noticing things around me on my solo walks like the vividness of nature’s colors, the soothing sounds of the river, and the tangible beauty everywhere around me.
I also noticed for the first time that everything is connected. All that is in the universe, is the universe itself.
How to Embrace Solitude
Even if you live with family, a partner, or roommates, there is always an opportunity to implement some intentional alone time.
For the most experienced spiritual folk, silence and solitude go hand in hand. However, for the sake of accustoming yourself to the intentional practice of solitude, you can start with the basics.
Here are three practices that can heighten your alone time:
Meditating in solitude can be an extraordinary experience. It enhances your ability to be present as you focus on just being.
Sitting in silence and stillness can also decrease your stress, boost your mental health, increase your self-awareness, help you foster self-acceptance, and deepen your self-compassion.
For me, meditation has been an ongoing practice, though not always consistent, that has brought about a deeper connection with myself and the universe.
Daily writing is a wonderful practice to enhance your solitude. Writing leads to self-awareness and personal insight and facilitates creativity because inspiration often arises during quiet moments of reflection.
Writing allows you to listen to the quiet voice inside your head, and it encourages you to ask yourself questions about what you truly want.
Journaling continues to be one of the biggest tools I use in my moments of solitude. I gain creative insights and feel attuned to my emotions thanks to penning my journal each day.
3. Connect with nature
Taking a meditative walk in nature is soothing for the soul and a guaranteed way to perk up our mood.
It may also lead to a greater sense of spiritual connection as you consider the larger, powerful natural force behind everything within the universe.
A lot of my inner happiness is dependent on the time I spend outdoors alone. I find I’m at my most peaceful when walking in the woods or by the sea.
However you choose to practice solitude, I encourage you to do the following.
1. Get rid of distractions
When you choose to spend time alone, really commit to your solitude. It’s tempting to grab your phone and mindlessly scroll social media or watch a YouTube video, but be disciplined and keep distractions at bay.
Your time in solitude won’t be valuable if you’re just distracting yourself. Instead, lean into spending time on your own and what the space can teach you.
2. Make it a priority.
Everyone has the time to dedicate to themselves. Even if it feels uncomfortable, or you feel strange rejecting a social invitation, don’t make excuses to avoid being with yourself.
The more comfortable you get with spending time alone doing things you love and reconnecting with yourself, the more connected you’ll feel to others. Self-love comes from solitude and with this love, you can give more to those you want to share it with.
I Challenge You to Spend Time Alone Intentionally
It probably won’t feel great the first time, and you’re likely to look for a way out of it, but spending time alone is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
There is so much self-growth to be had when you spend time nourishing the relationship you have with yourself.
I’m sending you the warmest wishes and all the good vibes as you embark upon spending (and loving) your time in solitude.