In the wake of the riots that started in my home city of London and spread across the country, there’s been a lot of hysterical media frothery about how Blackberry Messenger, Twitter and other social media networks are to blame. It all got me thinking about how ultra-connected we are right now. A message here, a tweet there and things escalated out of control in the blink of an eye. Moments of genuine peace, quiet and solitude seem all the more rare and precious in the face of how connected we are today. Don’t get me wrong: I adore those moments of connection with loved ones, gossiping with my girlfriends over a coffee or putting the world to rights over a long, leisurely meal. But I think we’ve increasingly begun to conflate solitude and being alone as being synonymous with feeling lonely. Carving out moments for solitude from others and from the hustle and bustle is essential. In my moments of solitude, I’ve found I’ve created some of my best work.
Here’s a quick run down of the benefits I’ve experienced from my precious alone time:
- Time for reflective integration
- Time for gentle questioning with myself
- Distraction-free time to create
- The chance to allow myself to be grateful for everything I have
- Time away from the influence of others allows me to tune into the internal radio station of my own wisdom
I’m sure you’re reading through this list you’ve automatically added some of your own benefits…BUT it took this extrovert a long time to come to terms with the benefits of solitude. As I’ve increased my tolerance for and enjoyment of my moments of solitude, I’ve noticed some of the things that held me back in the past.
- I didn’t like my own company – this is key to experiencing the benefits of solitude. I found the cacophony of voices in my head too overwhelming, so I’d go back to the distractions of the television, social media and calling my friends. The key to tackling this is to begin by finding your own level of “aloneness” first. A two week silent mediation retreat right out of the gate is probably too much! Start out experimenting with a 20min walk without your iPod or your phone, or an hour of just people watching without hiding behind a book…just let your thoughts wander.
- It made me feel guilty – I’ve now come to understand just how much of a wasted emotion guilt is, but when you start taking time out for solitude you might feel exactly that.
Time for a reframe – taking time out for solitude is not only beneficial for you but also for everyone else in your life.
You wouldn’t expect to be able to make a call on your mobile phone if the battery was flat, would you? It’s the same for you…solitude allows you to plug in and recharge your batteries.
- I didn’t make it a part of my routine – I didn’t start off by respecting my time and acknowledging the benefits of solitude, so even if I had set time aside, if something “better” came up I’d do that instead.
Now, I’ve reframed my alone times to be important tools in my self-care tool box and I ring-fence my alone time. If you don’t respect your time, don’t expect anyone else to.
- I stopped waiting to be granted permission – as my tolerance for alone time increased I realised how much I’d been denying myself the experiences I craved because I didn’t have anyone who wanted to them with me.
So now, instead of cancelling my plans to travel, dine out, see an exhibition or just head out of town to the beach because no one else is free to join me, I relish those experiences as opportunities to reconnect with my desires.
Why should I (or you) have to miss out!
About Author: Tamarisk Saunders-Davies is the founder of Tamarisk SD, enthusiastic speaker and relationship coach to women who want to take their relationships from average to awesome. Tamarisk’s philosophy is that the quality of our lives is judged by the quality of our relationships and she delights in providing women with the tools, strategies and camaraderie they need to have relationships with everyone in their life that make their hearts sing.