The Beauty of Solitude
By Lori Radun
Resist the urge to skim through this article in a hurry to absorb quick information and move onto something else. Allow yourself ten minutes to slow down, drink in the words you are reading, and then sit in silence for a few moments. If the phones are ringing, the kids are screaming or a work project is looming over your head, come back at another time and give yourself the gift of solitude.
- When was the last time you sat in complete silence for 30 minutes or more?
- Can you remember the most recent time you allowed yourself to stop and do nothing?
- How does stillness make you feel? Does it frighten you? Do you feel restless?
- What might you hear if you were silent? Who might be speaking to you?
- What might you learn about yourself? What answers might come to you if you sat still?
John Ortberg said "Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart." As we approach the holiday season, hurry becomes even more prominent in our lives. Our workload increases as we prepare for holiday cooking, holiday shopping, and the entertainment of family and friends. For most of us, these are happy times, but that doesn't mean it's not stressful. Living a life of constant hurry leaves us feeling ragged and depleted.
Solitude is beautiful. I can remember being tucked away someplace private in our home. Although I don't remember exactly where I was, I know it was someplace unusual because no one could find me. I sat quietly where I was, breathing in the moments of solitude. I could hear my kids asking "Where's mom?" I chuckled to myself because I wasn't about to give up my hiding place. The time alone was too precious.
Before you give me a list of reasons as to why you cannot allow yourself 30 minutes of solitude, let me share with you the benefits you would receive if you temporarily put your defenses down:
- Solitude slows your mind and body. Constant hurry and rushes of adrenaline puts stress on your body. Stress affects us mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Some of us are so addicted to being busy that it might even feel uncomfortable to slow down and experience silence, but your health depends on slower states and periods of rest.
- Solitude connects you with your thoughts and feelings. Have you ever heard the saying "I cannot even hear myself think?" When we allow ourselves to sit in silence and solitude, we can finally hear our thoughts and feel our emotions. For some, this is a welcome opportunity. For others, it creates fear of what might surface. It's okay to allow the feelings to surface or the thoughts to run through our minds. It's important to know who you are and honor these significant parts of yourself.
- Solitude can give you much needed wisdom. When we are quiet and still, we allow the voice of God to speak to us. God doesn't want to have to scream at us to get our attention. He will if He has to, but He much prefers to gently deliver His wisdom. Have you been worried about anything in particular? Are you searching for answers that seem to be eluding you? Get away and spend some time alone with God. Ask Him your questions and then sit still and listen for His answers.
- Solitude renews your spirit. When my son was home with me all day, there came a point in the day that I needed a break. My energy was low and my patience would be waning. I would take a 30 minute solitude break in my bedroom. While my son napped or watched a television program, I would refuel by lying down on my bed in complete silence. After spending some time alone, I was energized and ready to engage in the rest of my day. My disposition was much happier and my spirit was peaceful.
If you've never practiced solitude before, you can expect it to feel a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. You might have a desire to be around people, turn on the music, or drown out the silence with television. Resist that urge. Figure out the best time of day for you to schedule some alone time. Is it early in the morning before the kids get up, or later in the evening when everyone is asleep? Do you need to hire a babysitter so you can go someplace quiet and still? Start with a small amount of time so you can be successful. Practice it regularly until it becomes a habit.
Close your eyes for five minutes right now. Imagine the gift of complete and utter silence. No children crying or calling out your name. No hustle and bustle to complete all your daily tasks. No stress or mess to clean up. Just quiet and stillness. Only you and your breathing.
Lori Radun, CEC is a certified life coach for moms.