“I go into solitude so as not to drink out of everybody’s cup. When I am among the many I live as the many do, and I do not think I really think. After a time it always seems as if they want to banish my self from myself and rob me of my soul.“ –
Human beings are said to be social animals. And to some extend that is true. But just like we have a need to socialize and connect with others, we also have a deep need to connect with our own selves. And when we ignore this need to connect with ourselves, we create an imbalance.
It’s sad that not many societies give value to this inner connection. People are encouraged to be more outgoing, to socialize more and avoid being alone. Being alone is equated to loneliness, depression, social phobia, anti-social and many other negatives.
The body’s inherent need for solitude
Our body needs solitude to recover.
To some extent, our body takes care of this need through sleep. When we sleep, we are alone. We go into ourselves. But the issue with sleep is that we cannot remain conscious while sleeping. And one important prerequisite from getting in touch with our inner self is to remain conscious while in solitude. This is why, being alone with yourself makes sense only when you are in a wakeful state.
Being alone in solitude
When in solitude, you get an opportunity to be alone with your thoughts and emotions. This gives you an opportunity for deep self reflection and inner connection and through that connection with a deeper intelligence.
The three prerequisites for this inner connection are as follows:
1.) Outer silence: It’s hard to focus on the inside, when there are too many distracting sounds on the outside. Even though this should’t be a deterrent, it is always advantages to be a relatively silent environment. Night times are good, being in nature is good.
2.) Inner Silence: The next step is to calm down the mind noise. Let the thoughts arise and be a silent witness instead of activity engaging with the thought. Soon the thoughts will die down.
3.) Being Conscious: You need to stay alert and conscious of your attention. If you are not alert, your attention will be pulled in the thoughts and the mind noise will continue.
Immense power lies in solitude
The following are some deeply insightful quotes by some great thinkers on the value solitude and transformative power it holds.
“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” ~ Aldous Huxley
Mindlessly following the head is the quality of a dull mind.
An original mind finds it hard to fit in and hence is naturally inclined towards solitude. Vise versa, being in solitude is a great way to develop your mind to make it powerful and original.
“All of man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.” ~ Blaise Pascal
There is tremendous transformative power hidden in solitude that most of us never experience because we are too afraid to spend time with ourselves.
When one sits alone without any distractions, the mind quiets down, and there opens a channel for higher intelligence and new understanding to seep through.
“To have passed through life and never experienced solitude is to have never known oneself. To have never known oneself is to have never known anyone.” ~ Joseph Krutch, ‘The Desert Year’
When your mind is constantly occupied with distractions the outside world presents, it becomes impossible to engage in any kind of self reflection. You become completely lost in the mind and the thoughts it generates. You become one with your ego/self image.
In order to become self aware, one needs to come out of the mind and look at the mind objectively. This is where one starts to understand his/her true nature.
“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Getting in touch with your inner self is a beautiful experience. It’s like meeting a long lost friend. Once you find your inner self, it’s hard not to want to go back and explore more.
“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms
When the mind is free from distractions, thoughts begin to settle down and the mind becomes ‘still’. This is where a person starts to get a glimpse of true freedom. True freedom exists within, it cannot be found without.
“But many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” ~ bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions
Being alone can feel maddening to some cause it causes so much psychological agony. But it’s only by passing through this agony can one reach a place of inner stillness and knowledge that allows one to truly love and understanding oneself and others.
Once you get to know yourself, you will no longer seek company merely as an escape mechanism. There will be a deeper purpose and meaning to your relationships that was lacking before.
“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” ~ Rollo May
All the greatest artists known to history have enjoyed working in solitude for in solitude, they found the source of their creativity. When the mind gets past the thoughts and becomes still in solitude, one starts to access deeper layers of intelligence and creativity. It’s as if the universal intelligence starts to flow through the person whose mind is still in solitude.
“People are always so boring when they band together. You have to be alone to develop all the idiosyncrasies that make a person interesting.” ~ Andy Warhol
When people are in a group, they try to mimic the group’s ideology and hence present a fake sense of self to fit in. The individual mind does not exist, it becomes one with the group.
Take the same person out of the group and he reveals his true nature – all his idiosyncrasies come to light that were previously masked by the group’s collective identity.
“Spend time alone and often, touch base with your soul.” ~ Nikki Rowe
Solitude is the gateway to access the deepest parts of you – your inner self or your soul.
“Quiet reflection is often the mother of deep understanding. Maintain that peaceful nursery, enabling stillness to speak.” ~ Tom Althouse
Let the mind become still and then use the still mind to reflect on the situation at hand. Solutions are bound to come by as you are now thinking from a state of higher intelligence.
“The best lessons of life are learnt in silence and solitude.” ~ Abhijit Naskar
When the mind is still and there are no distractions, one starts to enter a deeper state of understanding as he gets in touch with the source of higher intelligence.
“Sometimes you just have to turn off the lights, sit in the dark, and see what happens inside of you.” ~ Adam Oakley
The process of consciously watching yourself starts when you are alone with yourself. This is something that every human being should indulge in to realize his/her own true nature.
“Your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
When you have a deep connection with your inner self, your inner self becomes your anchor that you can hold on to in times of uncertainty and it will guide you in the right direction. And the only way to reach your inner self is through solitude.
“Blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do, something to amuse themselves with, something to judge.” ~ Paulo Coelho
Within you lies the gateway to the deepest secrets that the universe holds. And everyone has access to these secrets if only they get comfortable in being alone with their own selves.
“Only those who spend long times with themselves can touch the depths of life!” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan
Overly extroverted people live shallow lives as they are never motivated to take time to be with themselves and explore their inner selves. The only way to bring depth to one’s life is to embrace introversion and become open to spending time with oneself.
Men without the aptitude or opportunity for solitude are mere slaves because they have no alternative but to parrot culture and society ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Without getting in touch with one’s true nature, it becomes difficult to think for oneself. Such an individual automatically starts to find groups to fit in and becomes open to mindlessly following the herd and conforming to authority.