Is your life over-scheduled? Frenetic, over-active whether at home, at work, or even on vacation? Is your life crowded with people? In our pedal-to-the-metal society, we focus on “doing” rather than on “being.” The capacity to pull away from the world, to be silent, still, and alone is strangely liberating. It’s a marked contrast to the noise and visual stimuli that bombard us. It frees us from addictions, from overeating, or worries about our weight.
Solitude is not loneliness or alienation. It’s a getting-in-touch with yourself. It’s experiencing life satisfaction, what I call the Satisfied Soul. Instead of feeling depleted and fragmented, solitude and silence help us feel centered and whole. The words “whole” and “holy” are similar in sound and meaning. In Hebrew, “shalom” means both wholeness and peace. There’s a holy sense of peace in just sitting with yourself. It’s coming to terms with who you really are and your place in the world.
Schedule a sacred alone time into each busy day. Nourish yourself during those quiet moments. Watch a candle, a tree swaying in the wind, a flower. Make a list of 10 things you are grateful for. Imagine that your demanding thoughts about a hit of pot, a visit to Casey’s Casino, chocolate doughnuts, pain pills, that six-pack in your refrigerator, shelling out for yet another pair of boots, or computer surfing are on the rim of a wheel. You are in the still center of the wheel, quiet and at peace with yourself.
Create a special space for yourself. Do you have a room or chair you can set aside for quiet times? On a small table or desk, arrange some meaningful objects: that glass egg from a trip to Mendocino, a spiral shell, arrangement of dried grasses, crystals, a photograph of a much-loved grandmother.
Paul Tillich, philosopher and theologian, best known for The Courage to Be, said, “Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being.”