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Revitalize Mind, Body and Spirit with Times of Solitude

2011 July 8
by Marquita Herald

Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement. ~Alice Koller

Value times of solitudeSolitude is simply the ability to enjoy inward quietness … the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. The primary difference between loneliness and solitude is in our attitude.

Times of solitude can be enriching and refreshing if we use them wisely. Choosing to set aside times of limited seclusion allow us to do the internal work needed to experience new perspectives that help us understand more fully the things that really matter. Solitude is the prerequisite for creativity and the place in which we can discover a treasure chest of tranquility and serenity and all their benefits.

For many of us achieving periods of thoughtful seclusion is not as simple as simply choosing to set aside a little alone time.

There are a great many people for whom there is no prospect more terrifying than that of a few hours with only their own selves for company. For some the experience of being alone can feel like painful loneliness. They feel the need to fill up space with noise and chatter, be it verbally or through music or the television. Sometimes just the sound of the television can stave off loneliness. Our extroverted culture encourages us to get rid of this lonely feeling by whatever means without ever really trying to understand it.

Solitude is strength; to depend on the presence of the crowd is weakness. The man who needs a mob to nerve him is much more alone than he imagines. ~Paul Brunton

Many people long for someone to come into their life to rescue them from the isolation that often comes with the feeling loneliness, only to end up in unhealthy relationships as a result of the desperate need not to feel alone. Sadly, it is possible to be surrounded by people and still feel lonely … this is perhaps the bitterest form of loneliness.

Negotiating with loved ones

Others of us may be challenged by the insecurities of loved ones. All too often men and women are threatened by their partner’s need for a little “space” and an opportunity to enjoy a measure of solitude. They somehow feel that if their partners really loved them they wouldn’t want to be apart from them. Or they take it personally and project that they must have done or said something that has offended their partner and she/he now wants to get away, when nothing could be further from the truth.

It is so important not to allow yourself to be overcome by the feelings of guilt simply for wanting to set aside some time for yourself. However much you love your family, you still occasionally need to dedicate some time to your own well being.

When we take some time to solely think about ourselves, and not have to consider our impact on others, we begin the process of true self-awareness. It can be a little daunting at first, but the result of this awareness is that you learn what drives you, what excites you, and what motivates you. This new-found self-awareness is a beautiful thing and it can have a dramatically positive effect on your life and relationships.

You are not alone

We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we differ in the amount of solitude we need … some solitude is essential; it gives us time to explore and know ourselves. It is the necessary counterpoint to intimacy, what allows us to have a self worthy of sharing.

Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life transitions when we may need extra strength to find joy at times. It allows us to feel we are in the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands from without.

Solitude revitalizes mind, body and spirit.

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32 Responses
  1. October 25, 2011

    I like your blurb about how some women think that if their partner needs some time away from them that they don’t love them. Is that considered co-dependency? I know that I get that thought every once in a while. I have learned that some time apart from the one you love is good from my mother. I love my mother but when we go on our girl retreats I just need some time to myself not that I am mad at her or don’t like her company … Sometime it is healthy just to be by yourself and reset.

    • October 25, 2011

      Hey Rosie,
      Good question! The term co-dependency used to be used mostly relating to issues with substance abuse, but according to my handy reference guide over time the definition has grown to include situations where family members manipulate each other. Another term that applies is insecure. Both ultimately exhibit similar behavior I believe, and I agree with you – sometimes it really is healthy to just have some quiet time on your own.

  2. Steve-Personal Success Factors
    July 15, 2011

    Solitude, like prayer and meditation, is a way to plug the cord of our soul into the Power of nature and God (yes, I’ll use that term :) Yet I find that it’s often ‘easier’ to be ‘busy’ and ‘noisy’ than to quiet down and get in touch with Someone greater than myself. Thanks for the challenge!
    Steve-Personal Success Factors recently posted..7 Self Help Motivation Tips From John Wooden!My Profile

  3. July 13, 2011

    I mostly prefer to be “left alone”. I am not such a party kid or even hanging out with friends is not my thing. I find that when I am having silent times, my brain is super productive. I can concentrate much (just like anyone else, I need silence too). But the strange thing is that I am an introvert in real physical life, but a talkative online!
    Jane recently posted..Is Facebook Challenging Google+ With Skype Video Calls?My Profile

    • July 14, 2011

      Hi Jane,
      I’m the same way – I’ve never felt comfortable in crowds and much prefer either alone time or quality time with close friends. I’m also an introvert, but most of my career in sales and travel was spent in front of groups so go figure. All that really matters I think is coming to terms with what makes us happy and allows us to be our best. Mahalo!

  4. July 12, 2011

    I am an introvert, so I enjoy being alone. But I made an alarming discovery on sending my 3 youngest off to school after 19 years of homeschooling. All those years, when I had 7 children underfoot in a small home, 24/7… I thought they were the reason I felt so fragmented all the time. But from the day I sent the boys off to school, I discovered that *I* am my own worst distraction and interrupter!! It is a challenge for me to silence the chatter in my mind and just enjoy the solitude.
    Willena Flewelling recently posted..Napoleon Hill – The Power of the MastermindMy Profile

    • July 14, 2011

      Hi Willena,
      Sounds like you’re going through a number of transitions, but it also appears you’re learning some very valuable lessons about yourself. The important thing is you enjoy the process :-)

  5. July 12, 2011

    I absolutely couldn’t agree more. With two self-employed adults, two kids and two dogs in the house life can get nuts. I try to get away by myself for pure nothing 1 time a year. And then hubby and I take time away together where we get time alone as well. There is something to be said for being with yourself and with your thoughts. One of the things I would really like to try soon is to go on a silent retreat. I wonder what profound thoughts would come up for me if I could really just be still for a week. Oh my, that sounds amazing! Thank you Marty for getting me back on the track of thinking about this topic.
    VaNessa Duplessie recently posted..Happy Birthday America!My Profile

    • July 14, 2011

      Hi VaNessa,
      I can certainly relate … when I was worked in travel my friends always used to give me a hard time because they couldn’t imagine how I could travel “alone” around the world but to me that was the most amazing experience. I’ve never been on a silent retreat, but those ads for retreats in Sedona certainly look tempting! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. July 12, 2011

    Marty, I love time alone. I love my family like it hurts, but ohhh… time alone is awesome. I have always been a bit of a loner at heart and really enjoy my own company to think.

    I have lots and lots of friends, and though I make time for them…. sometimes I choose to be by myself instead.

    I do feel guilty sometimes, but only because I do have people in my life who don’t get it and take it as a ‘slight’ against them.

    For me though solitude is a time to get things done, thought about, planned and organized so when I do choose to spend time amongst the crowds, I can enjoy it.

    I really related to this post.

    Sorry for the long response time… I am in a bit of a remote area when my internet is ‘iffy’ at best.

    Jayne Kopp recently posted..Get Clicky to Build Your Business | Uncover Personal Strengths & Go with the FlowMy Profile

  7. July 11, 2011

    Hello Marty

    You are not alone, is one of the reasons for solitude. Most of the time our lives are filled with mind chatter and what is going on around us. Solitude for me is turning all that off and being in the presence of the divine. I begin my day with a period of solitude to tune out the world and receive guidance from the divine. Through out the day I find periods of solitude to tune in to see that I am still on the right track. Thanks for this article about a very important time in ones life.


    Perry A Davis Jr
    Music City
    Perry A Davis Jr recently posted..What is the one thing that network marketers need to know about leadership?My Profile

  8. July 10, 2011

    Hi Marty,
    so good to read your article on solitude!
    For me time by myself, with myself is very essential.
    Lately I have been enjoying at least one day a week when I stay home and see nobody.

    As you said “… some solitude is essential; it gives us time to explore and know ourselves.”

    Great post! Loving it!

    Thank you!

    Love and Joy
    Yorinda recently posted..Good ideas – Doing something about themMy Profile

    • July 11, 2011

      Hi Yorinda,
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m with you as far as making time for myself a priority – that’s when I do some of my best thinking!

  9. Elise
    July 10, 2011

    I really enjoyed this blog entry. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on solitude.

    • July 11, 2011

      Hi Elise, Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed the article and I do hope you’ll return soon :-)

  10. July 10, 2011

    Hi Marty, I love quiet and I don’t mind being alone. I do enjoy interacting with others, but my personality doesn’t crave it. I also love my 3 grandsons and need my grammie fix. :) I found it interesting when you spoke of those who may be offended or hurt because one wants some solitude. Possibly a personality difference here.
    In our busy lives it is hard to find that solitude time where we can reflect and evaluate who we are and where we are going. I feel that is necessary, but too often, being introspective isn’t high on the list of things to do. Those solitude times of introspection should be done at the beach, I’m thinking. :)
    Thank you Marty for your inspiring writings.
    Lynn Jones recently posted..Eat that Frog…..or is it Eat Liver?My Profile

  11. July 10, 2011

    Hi Marty,

    I love this post and the distinction between “solitude” and “being alone”…

    I know for me and for my wife, we definitely need our “alone time” and we don’t feel threatened by that. We know how important it is to re-energize and re-focus and it works to help our relationship.

    There are so many pressures and stresses in life and in relationships that we need the time to feel renewed.

    It does help that we have different body clocks where I go to sleep late and have time in the evenings and my wife wakes up at the crack of dawn and that is her “time of solitude”

    This is also a part of achieving life balance. This is your opportunity to have some quality “Me Time” .

    Thanks for keeping us inspired,
    Marc Korn recently posted..Who Is Responsible For Your Success ?My Profile

    • July 11, 2011

      Hi Marc … so glad you liked the article. It’s funny that long before I understood the big picture about allowing ourselves some measure of solitude, I used to joke with friends about needing to take a time out in “Marty’s closet” …

  12. July 10, 2011

    Beautifully stated Marty! Solitude is a daily necessity for me (lol). During my times of solitude I get to receive Divine guidance and nurture my spirit, my thoughts, and creativity. It allows me to feel renewed and then I can continue to give and be of service with an open heart.
    A. Leigh Edwards recently posted..Take 5: “How to Meditate” for BeginnersMy Profile

  13. July 10, 2011

    Hey Marty,

    You made a number of great points here, but 2 that particularly relate to me.

    First the one about filling the alone time with noise like the TV. When I used to live alone, the first thing I would do when I came home was turn on the TV. I wouldn’t even watch it, but wanted to fill the void I was feeling with some noise.

    I suppose at that point in my life, I had too much alone time and simply wanted to hear other voices in the room!

    Next, your point about not feeling guilty about wanting some alone time hit me hard. My first wife never wanted me to be alone, I guess she felt threatened or something. But I felt I needed that time and would take it for myself. But I often felt guilty because I knew others felt differently.

    It shouldn’t have mattered but it did. I allowed it to ruin the time alone that I had, so it did no good anyway.

    I’ve come a long way since then but still have much work to do.

    Thanks, Marty for this inspiring post!
    Dr. Bob Clarke recently posted..You Can Create a Popular Blog in 90 Days or Less Part TimeMy Profile

    • July 10, 2011

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story Bob. Yep, my ex-husband was the same, so I understand – glad we both have been able to move on to much better places :-)

  14. July 10, 2011

    true marty
    sometimes i need times alone to adjust things and to arrange new information in my mind even though i am an extrovert

  15. July 9, 2011

    Very nice post!

    Alone time is so necessary to stay sane in this world that we live in. I feel like there are so many people that can’t slow down for even a minute. Taking time to yourself and enjoying it re-energizes you and allows you to get so much more done as a result. I’m practicing setting aside alone time to re-energize in between 2 hour work periods and so far it has made me feel great and has lead to more productivity.

    Thanks for the post,
    Kyle recently posted..High School TripMy Profile

  16. July 9, 2011


    Solitude is essential for allowing your own genius to emerge. When we spend time in quiet, especially connected with nature, we allow our brain to sort through our experiences, to make sense of current dilemmas and to find solutions that could not have been reasoned out with our busy and overworked mind. Thanks for explaining in so much detail why solitude is so important for us.

    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted..Your Mind Controls Your BodyMy Profile

  17. July 9, 2011

    Yeah, sometimes we need to be in a serene place, faraway from the cacophonous noise of the urban area. Not to be alone but to get the opportunity to treat ourselves – to relax, meditate, think and enjoy.

  18. July 9, 2011

    Great post, Marty! I think that one of the keys in talking to your loved ones about the need for space is to simply put a time on it. It can get pretty easy to simply say “I need my space” and have it come out wrong because of some people’s tendency to use that as a euphemism for something more destructive in a relationship. With me, it helps that I tend to sleep a lot less than my wife does, so I usually use the time either just before I go to bed or after I wake up, depending on how much earlier I wake up. This can also work for anyone who is on a different sleep schedule, even if only slightly, than his/her family members.

  19. Mandy Swift
    July 9, 2011

    Hi Marty, I love the way you paint the difference between ‘lonliness’ and ‘solitude as being simply a difference in attitude. I have had periods in my life when I have felt intensely ‘alone’ in the midst of a hive of people and activity and periods of blissful ‘solitude’ when I have been so alone, I could be the only person on the planet. So definitely, I feel that how you perceive time alone has a lot to do with how your ‘soul’ is feeling at that moment.
    A great ‘food for thought’ post. Thanks a lot :)

  20. Debbie Lattuga permalink
    July 9, 2011

    I think for many moms, solitude is like gold. When my kids were small, I started running. And what I liked most was the solitude.

    Many people equate solitude with inactivity. Many hobbies like gardening, exercise and making art are ways you can be active and experience solitude at the same time.

    I really enjoy meditation. It helps me reconnect to my inner strength.


  21. July 8, 2011

    Hi Marty,

    I too love my own space and adore the silence in solitude. I have to have it, quite a lot of it in fact which has always been an issue in relationships. Now I wouldn’t even consider having a relationship with someone unless they felt the same way.

    I meditate twice a day to get my dose of extreme solitude and never have a radio or television on as background noise. I am either listening attentively to something or not at all.

    One of my favorite solitude quotes is:

    “Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.” ~Marcus Aurelius


  22. Jeanine Byers Hoag permalink
    July 8, 2011

    Marty, time alone is my absolute favorite thing! And I loved the quote at the beginning of the article. Really great post.

    What I find in connection to other people is that they “miss me” (my son) or fear they will miss me: “if you had a whole room to yourself, we’d never see you!” (my partner). As it is, I often miss me!


  23. July 8, 2011

    Oh I love being alone Marty… No music playing, no TV going, no one talking, just me and nothing at all. Some of my friends question me and wonder how I can really enjoy that. It’s hard to explain, I just do.

    I’ve been in past relationships where the guy would freak out if I wanted to be alone for the weekend and not spend it with them. That are insecurity issues with them, that has nothing to do with me. Guess that’s why most of my relationships never lasted. :-)

    I believe spending time alone is healthy. It gives you time to reflect and think about where you are and where you’re going. I find that when I’m alone, that’s when my best thoughts start flooding in. I’ve also had plenty of aha moments and realized certain signs that were being presented to me but I was too busy to pay attention. Yep, solitude can be a very good thing.

    Appreciate you sharing this with us. Hope others will see the benefit this can bring to them as well.


    • July 8, 2011

      I agree, not only is time alone is healthy, it is also vitally important for a number of reasons, including of course the areas of mind, body and spirit.

      Of course time alone is not to be confused with the old fashion siesta which can also do wonders for anyone’s state of mind.

      Take the time to be us again, recharge, reboot!

      And keep the Smiles

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