The Importance of Solitude – Part II

TRANSFORM YOURSELF

Solitude is the tool you require to transform your bad habits and negative emotions. Being alone helps you see yourself clearly, repent your mistakes, and usher in change.

✴ The process begins only when you can pinpoint your negative qualities and shortcomings. 

✴ The next step is to think deeply about how you have affected others through your bad habits and unbridled emotions, causing them pain.

✴ The final step is to desire change and make an effort towards it. If you have a strict and loving spiritual mentor who is honest with you, you are fortunate, because he or she can help you see the things you need to change. 

Transformation requires a change in mental attitude, which makes solitude indispensable. 

When you’re constantly in the company of others, there’s pressure on you to conform. For instance, it’s extremely difficult for people to abstain from drinking and smoking when they are surrounded by friends who indulge in these activities. Or it might be your habit to sit in front of the television, drink in hand. Observing yourself objectively will help you become a better person to be around.  


ENJOY DOING WHAT YOU LIKE

One of the greatest advantages of solitude is freedom to do what you desire. You can read for as long as you want, watch that TV documentary about space without having to fight for the remote control, get up when you want, listen to your kind of music… the list is endless.   

No explanation of Solitude is complete without the inspiring example of poet, philosopher and transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau, who wrote Walden, or, Life in the Woods  –  a true account of his experiment in self-reliance. 

Thoreau lived for more than two years in a cabin he built himself on the property of his poet friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. The cabin was on the edge of Walden Pond, and here he spent his days, writing and contemplating himself as well as nature. 

With his writings, Thoreau inspired great minds like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Today, he is a beacon to those who look to solitude and nature for spiritual harmony within themselves. In pursuing solitude, you can look to his writings for some sage advice.

About Thoreau, Emerson said: “He was bred to no profession; he never married; he lived alone; he never went to church; he never voted; he refused to pay a tax to the State; he ate no flesh, he drank no wine, he never knew the use of tobacco… and knew how to be poor without the least hint of squalor or inelegance.”


THINGS TO DO IN YOUR SOLITUDE

What, you may wonder, can you do while you’re pursuing solitude? Do you have to just sit there and contemplate? No, not at all! There are many activities you can engage in while you’re alone.


Here are some great activities to do while taking advantage of solitude:

1. Keep a journal. Writing a journal is therapeutic and a stress-buster. It also helps you understand yourself because, in a journal, you describe your feelings, conversations with others, hopes and goals, as well as failures and successes. 

✴ A journal is your constant companion, and the most undemanding one. It doesn’t ask for anything and is always ready to accept. Writing in your journal is like talking to a friend. It could even bring out the talented writer in you. And someday you’ll read it again to refresh a cherished memory or go back to a lesson learnt. 

✴ Keeping a journal clarifies your thoughts and beliefs. It helps you look at challenges afresh and find solutions, but you must write every week, if not every day to see its benefits. According to research, journaling also has health benefits:

‣ Journaling boosts the function of cognition.

‣ It reduces the severity of asthma and arthritis, as well as other illnesses.

‣ It strengthens the immune system.


2. Reduce stress and promote healing with classical music. Much has been written about the “Mozart Effect” and its ability to improve spatial and visual skills as well as reduce the number of seizures in epileptic patients. But we’ll leave that behind and focus on the stress-relieving effects of listening to classical music. 


3. Do some gardening. Have you ever experienced the pleasures of eating fruit from your own garden? A garden is a perpetual wonder. Every day you can find something new – a tender shoot, a bud, the first blush of sweetness on a ripening apple, or the full bloom glory of a flower. As the gardener, you’re responsible for all this beauty!

✴ In addition, you’ll experience the sensual pleasures of soil and velvety petals, the burst of flavor in your mouth, the invigorating and tranquil effect of fresh air and the outdoors. What’s more, it’s good exercise. It’s well known that human beings have an innate attraction to nature. Just yield to it!


4. Read a good book. Choose what you read with care. Read books that have a positive message or those that teach you something valuable. Here are the many benefits of reading:

✴ Reading boosts your intelligence because it forces you to actively process information quickly and with great detail. It’s not a passive activity like watching television.  

✴ Books can teach you how to polish your skills. Think of any skill and there’s bound to be a book about it.

✴ Reading increases your vocabulary. 

✴ You can engage in some armchair traveling to places you’ve never seen.

✴ Your stress will be reduced as you lose yourself in a beautiful new world. The constantly changing pictures on television, and especially commercials, only increase your stress.

✴ Reading improves your concentration.

✴ You’ll notice a boost in your memory as you learn to remember plot details and characters. 

✴ Books help to furnish your mind with information on various subjects, which will help your creative quotient soar.

✴ Reading also makes you more knowledgeable and a better conversationalist.

✴ You’ll be able to discover something new and exciting. For instance, read The Secret Life of Nature by Peter Tompkins, who wrote the best-selling The Secret Life of Plants. If you loved fairytales as a child, you’ll be glad you did. 


5. Cultivate a hobby. Some people are lucky to have a hobby from an early age. Others find a passion for something constructive later in life. So if you don’t have a hobby already, explore your interests and abilities to find your passion.

✴ It’s easy to see how a hobby can reduce stress. Naturally, with less stress comes better health. Engaging in a hobby is a great way to unwind and rejuvenate yourself. It’ll feel like an oasis in a desert. Take a break from the daily grind and focus on something you love to do.

✴ You’ll also gain more confidence and self-esteem when you discover you’re good at something. As for your relationships with your partner or family, you’ll find more harmony and balance.

✴ Making someone the center of your life can lead to tension in the relationship, but when you cultivate a hobby, your partner will respect you and admire you even more. This will free them to do the same, and you’ll find your relationship becoming happier and healthier.  


As you’ve seen, solitude isn’t a lonely pursuit at all! Alone-time reduces your stress in healthy, enjoyable ways, strengthens your relationships, and, best of all, it helps you be the best you can be. After all, you deserve to live a fulfilling, joyful life!

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