The state of being or living alone; remoteness from habitations; a lonely, unfrequented place. This is the definition of solitude that is given by dictionary.com.
As spiritual beings we do need time, sometimes daily, to be by ourselves. That time is needed to get away from all the noise of our everyday world, the computers, cell phones, and to-do lists. That time by ourselves is needed to reconnect with the Divine and while some may meditate, write a letter (by hand!) or take a nap, it is not what you do that is important. It is the quiet that allows that reconnection to take place, and it is in that time that we will become refreshed, centered and ready to handle anything else the world has to offer.
The state of being or living alone. That is definition one for solitude. Not everyone chooses this option, but most of us experience it at least once a lifetime. It can be due to life circumstances and not specifically to live apart from others. Solitude can feel like a punishment, especially if you live “outside” of yourself and depend on lots of activity and stimulation through social contact and technology. If you are heart-centered and find fulfillment and purpose by looking inside of yourself to see what is there, living alone can be a gift. That gift is finding out about what you’re really made of through time spent alone.
Remoteness from habitations. That is definition two for solitude. Even though not everyone chooses to live alone, most of us do still live close to others in apartments, subdivisions, or cities. Living completely apart from others with little social interaction is taking solitude to the next level. Many religious and spiritual orders have groups of people who choose to be sheltered from modern society so that they have the quiet they need to connect to the deity of their choice. There are also those who normally have active lives who feel called to spend time alone in remote locations to journal, reflect and get to know their spiritual selves. Many authors have shared their personal experiences in their quest for enlightenment. One such author is Jane Dobisz. She wrote The Wisdom of Solitude: A Zen Retreat in the Woods. Jane recalls her stay in a cabin for 100 days during a New England winter. She shares her experiences and also the fact that she came back as the same person, but not the same.
A lonely, unfrequented place. This is definition three for solitude. Even though dictionary.com is referring to solitude as a physical place, I believe it can also apply to the feeling that one can get when they stray from their spiritual self.
Solitude scares some people because they are afraid to look behind the veil and see what makes them tick. When they are in a place of quiet and no distractions all they have to do is look within. Most of us have regrets, failures, disappointments and dark emotions that we have hidden within ourselves, bottling them up so that nobody can see them and deem us unworthy of love. So what happens when something is stuffed down? It will come back up the first chance it gets. If you haven’t explored and accepted that perceived dark side of yourself, then the first moment of quiet you have, it will come back up. That is likely the biggest reason why we keep so busy, busy, busy all of the time, so the “bad things” don’t come back up when we’re unable to deal with them. That is when solitude can seem like a bad thing. The sad thing is that many feel that they are the only ones who experience this or feel this way. The “lonely, unfrequented place” of solitude is made into a prison instead of the gift of walking with the divine.
How can we take solitude back from a personal hell and turn it into our personal heaven? First of all, know that whatever you uncover, it is okay. In fact, every little aspect of ourselves is beautiful and perfect as it is. Even the “ugly” stuff. Before you enter the solitude of your own mind, invite God, Spirit, the angels or loved ones in spirit to be with you when you take that step. With that invitation, know that you can explore all aspects of yourself un-alone. Make that invitation to Spirit every time you delve into these negative emotions and you will find that gradually the journey within can be a peaceful one.
In the end, solitude is what you want to make of it, whether it’s a few minutes of “me” time, spending time away from others, or even time away from our true self. Solitude isn’t defined by a definition in a dictionary, but by what you choose to do with it. My wish is that you find peace and spiritual growth in your times of solitude.