Being alone. No distractions. No Wi-Fi. No email. No Social Media. No other people.
Just you and your thoughts…
For many solitude can be a terrifying idea and frustrating practice.
It was for me. I wanted to shut my brain off not give it more space and encourage it to think…
One day, after a workshop I facilitated, a woman asked me how I was able to slow my mind down. When she tried solitude she went stir crazy and couldn’t handle even 5 minutes. I laughed a knowing laugh. Nodded and leveled with her.
Solitude takes daily practice, prayer and discipline. I told her to start with 60 seconds and build from there. There is no light switch. But that is not the answer she was looking for and it wasn’t the answer I was looking for either when I was searching for peace. I wanted to be that person sitting alone in a crossed legged position on a yoga mat without a care in the world…
What I learned though, is that solitude is a LOT work! What you see on a peaceful person’s face is the outcome of solitude not the effort. Solitude is very much a sport. God will give you peace but you need to do your part. Here are 4 reasons why:
1. You Have to Practice: Solitude is like any other new thing. You can’t expect your busy mind to grind to a halt when you haven’t taught it how. When I moved from MI to CA, without a job, my former co-workers teased me that I would wear a hole in the new apartment floor from pacing because I didn’t know how to sit still. That was my starting point. The first 30 seconds of solitude was torture but I kept at it. Now many years later I crave solitude but it was a process.
2. You Have to Deal with Other Players:Others in your family may not understand your want or need for solitude. What they do need to understand is that this is something you want to do and you need their support. If the end result is a calmer and more peaceful you it’s really in their best interest, isn’t it?
3. Solitude Requires Discipline: Solitude requires discipline which is different then practice. Discipline is the self-control to push yourself to practice when you don’t want to; to turn the cell phone off even though you may miss something and to tell your own will “no”.
4. Your Opponent Plays Dirty: The game is to beat your feelings with your mind. To not engage the negative thoughts, to not give in to all you could be doing when you are practicing solitude. Feelings of guilt and shame will come up making you want to never do this again. That is why you have to have a solid defense, to fight those thoughts and replace them with good thought s- fight guilt with God’s grace. I use the word of God, music, quotes I like etc. to re-frame my thinking.
How do you get yourself ready to play the sport of solitude?