I turned solitude into an either or. Either I create lots of solitude each day, or I have none at all.
We do this often. Either I meditate 15 minutes a day, or I skip it. Either I have "enough" time for my workout, or why bother? Either I stretch for 20 minutes a day, or what's the point?
We let our notion of what we think we should be doing impede us from doing what we can and building progress towards becoming what we want to be.
The type of solitude I seek does not require being alone, but rather being free from inputs. Though being alone can make solitude easier, we can benefit to intentionally seek time without inputs. Otherwise, we can easily get caught up in a vortex.
There is no perfect level of solitude, of course. Nonetheless, I was letting my idea about what the "right" amount of solitude looks like prevent me from capitalizing on the opportunities I already have for solitude. I was letting what I surmised others do discourage me from creating any solitude at all. Today, I flipped that.
It started with one decision, to pause. Taking a pause is never easy, but there are times when it's easier. As I woke up this morning, my cortisol rushed in and I was ready to go.
The puppy is awake, I love coffee, I'm excited for a work project, and there's only so much time, let's go!
I was ready to run down the stairs, enter the world of inputs from my phone, and get this show on the road. But instead, I paused. I remained in bed and breathed mindfully for a few minutes before taking a minute or two to just be.
Starting with a moment of solitude to start our days is helpful, but how can we break from being reactionary to the many inputs we receive during the day?
By taking a pause. Start with one, just one moment. Don't be like me and think it's either hours alone in a room with your thoughts or no free moments at all. Start with one breath. Build up to one minute. See what that does for you, see where that takes you.
Even freeing up a minute or two for solitude each day can serve as a reminder to oneself: solitude matters.
I've found that we have most control over the bookends of our days: our mornings and our evenings.
Over 50% of people now use their smartphone before even leaving their bed in the morning. This is not a statistic we want to be a part of. This is not a behavior that enhances our well-being.
It's surprising how a simple change to start our day can have a profound effect on the day at large.
And in the evening? Well I never miss the opportunity to recommend a Digital Sunset. Even when I get caught up in the world of inputs, I always have the reprieve of my Digital Sunset to look forward to.
There is no right way to practice solitude. There is no optimal amount of time for solitude. That being said, some is better than none. Solitude or otherwise, don’t allow what you think you should be doing stop you from doing that thing in the first place.
Oh, and Happy New Year. Let’s have some fun.