A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free. ~ A. Schopenhauer
There are supposedly two main characteristics that have helped us stand out in our evolutionary journey; our unique 3D vision and our ability to work in groups.
Many people attribute our social instinct as one of the main reasons for our survival in an environment full of dangerous threats. Of course, there were a few lone wolves here and there who managed to survive on their own, but the majority felt comfort in being part of a larger social structure.
Within the last century or so, with the discoveries of science and the development of technology, something unique has begun to occur. Mass fabrication has become possible, and due to the massive developments in media advertising and the discovery of our sense of identity (also known as the Ego), mass consumerism has been born.
Suddenly we’re informed that we all have the opportunity to be unique, to stand out from everyone else in the way we dress, the cars we drive and the houses we live in. Consumerism has provided a way of expressing our individuality, with more and more inventions coming out that promise us a happier life and lifestyle.
As a stronger sense of self has emerged within us, so too has a greater desire for self-fulfillment. We live in a time where we crave self-fulfillment as unique individuals. This is evident from the large numbers of psychologists, gurus and life coaches readily available to us at a click of a button. However, the more we adopt the solutions provided to us by society of consumption and ambition, the further away we find ourselves from inner-fulfillment at all.
Often we get lost in our search for answers in the external world and we forget that most of the answers can be found internally – if we provide the space for them to manifest themselves.
Now that our sense of self has become so strong, it has made itself more available to allow for its own evolution, or Involution, and personal growth. I believe we are at the beginning of an evolution of the self that will require immense Solitude to aid it.
It’s a great time for us to live in, and to begin our acceptance of Solitude now will make it a lot easier to be who we are destined to become in the future.
These are seven lessons you can learn when you find the space for Solitude.
1. Solitude Centers You
How often do you feel that life is living you, rather than you are living life? In the fast paced society that we live in, we often feel that our lives are controlled by the schedules, commitments and demands in our daily routines.
In conversations with others we touch on the surface of many different topics without allowing ourselves to be completely absorbed by any single one of them. Solitude provides a strong center, an inner core, that makes your attention feel centered rather than dragged around by different social or environmental stimulations.
2. Solitude Connects You With Yourself
Stimulation in our technological age is everywhere, and it’s all too easy to spend a few hours drifting from page to page on Reddit or YouTube, playing games on your phone or watching endless amount of television. The truth is: technology disconnect you from yourself.
However, technology is not to blame, but rather our poor use of it. It captures our short attention spans and distracts us from true deep effort and work within ourselves. Social media also gives us a superficial sense of socializing, which is the true deep and multi-dimensional friendship equivalent to masturbation, compared with sex.
3. Solitude Makes You Authentic
It’s surprising and shocking when you become aware of all the ways in which other people influence the person you are. I have asked many people why they chose the jobs they did, or the places they live in and many told me they did so because of their friends or family.
It’s easy to get a job in a place where your friends work or go live where your family members live, but sometimes those decisions aren’t authentic to who you’re meant to be. The easily available options in our lives are not necessarily the truest to ourselves. We often get so consumed by listening to and watching others, that we forget to listen to ourselves.
How many people live in the city they were born in, work in the first field they decided to study, and have the same friends that they had in high school? I’m certain that these decisions we made because they were easy, or obvious at some point in life. Solitude helps you to listen to yourself, and your own needs.
4. Solitude Creates Space To Grow
We are all interconnected in many ways, but sometimes we need to find the space to allow ourselves to grow. Many of us have responsibilities as friends, partners, parents or sons and daughters, but these responsibilities can limit you.
Fitting into the expectations that the people around you have makes you less capable of truly finding out where your limits are. Social dynamics require a lot of energy and focus, and to truly grow and evolve you will need to use that intensity of energy and focus to push yourself towards new boundaries.
5. Solitude Inspires Creativity
Most of the greatest artistic works and inspired inventions have come in the midst of solitude. Solitude works as a catalyst providing the necessary time, space, intensity of focus and energy that is required to bring anything to life.
Without any external distractions, Solitude allows you to dig deep into your thoughts, your sense of beauty, and observe that which is true within you.
6. Solitude Makes You Better Company
As you begin to discover more about yourself in Solitude, you begin to find new interests and passions. It is through the cultivation of these interests that you become an interesting person.
When you spend time alone you find the passion and space to pursue unusual fields of knowledge and in doing so you accumulate information that is worth sharing.
I’ve observed that in some circles of friends, they repeat the same facts or jokes because they all spend so much time around each other. Nobody goes out of their way to seek interesting hobbies or knowledge and so they have a limited circular library of information they share repeatedly.
7. Solitude Teaches You To Be Alone
Many people associate being alone with feelings of loneliness, but this is far from the truth. Whereas loneliness de-energizes you and is a burden to experience, aloneness re-energizes your body and mind.
And what about Solitude? Well, Solitude teaches you how to be happy alone and enjoy your own presence without feeling lonely. If you’re capable of being comfortable with your own company, this can also greatly benefit your social life, helping you to stop leeching off company and depending on other people to banish your feelings of loneliness.
Instead, Solitude allows you to enjoy their company unconditionally, being unattached, centered and with no hidden agendas.
Cultivating The Art Of Solitude
Depending on our temperament, we all need different amounts of solitude. But solitude these days is absolutely essential.
Solitude creates the space to explore yourself and the opportunity to become intimate with who you really are. Solitude allows you to become centered and in control of your life again.
You don’t have to become a hermit to enjoy Solitude – even small moments of Solitude are often enough. Ways you can incorporate Solitude into your life include reading a book, going on solitary walks, picking one day a week to go without technology, taking a relaxing bath, or even spending a few moments in the garden just contemplating the beauty of nature. Whatever works for you!
I’d like to hear some of the ways you practice the art of Solitude in your life, let me know in the comments!