“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
Henry David Thoreau
It is said that Thoreau set out for the woods near Walden Pond in search of solitude. He thought it was an essential prerequisite to get on with his thoughts and his writing. Perhaps it was the harsh noise of the city life that led him to take to the woods.
He intended to live that way, the peace and the quiet allowing him to pour himself into his work. It was almost 20 years ago when I chanced upon Thoreau and his work. It fascinated me to read how the solitude of the woods had taught him about living. Quite an irony, I mused. And yet, I did not grasp the extent of what solitude meant to him until recently, when I discovered how much I’ve come to savour and depend upon the quiet hours to keep myself sane and centred in a world that continues to thwart my peace and calm.
I’m not a loner by any means. I love being around people that are dear to me. I’m not averse to meeting strangers either. I genuinely enjoy human company, and whilst I’ve always believed that I’ve been introverted for the most part of my growing up years, I’ve also surprised myself upon realising that I can be an ambivert too, at times. Maybe, a bit of both, at different times. And happily so.
And yet, when I start my day in the wee hours of the morning, while the world is deep in slumber, I realise how essential solitude is, to me. I sit in meditation for about ten minutes and then write in my journal about things that perhaps will never get a chance to surface through the day. The calm of the morning hours brings me the silence that I absolutely cherish, one, in which nothing matters, except the moment that lies before me. It feels as if time stops for a while and I’m given this most precious gift to learn what solitude has to teach me, so I can listen to the inner voice that gets drowned in the cacophony of a busy day.
In those hours of solitary bliss, I find the space to focus, to create and to truly be who I am!
Sitting alone and sitting still isn’t something that is easy to do. Agree, some of us are wired to find that comforting but many of us aren’t. And yet, anyone who meditates daily will vouch for the fact that it is a great way to recharge the mind, body and soul. If you asked me, I’d say—nothing, absolutely nothing can ever come close to this bliss! For me, the most interesting take from this practice is how much one learns about oneself and how one learns to be more mindful with each passing day.
The way I do it is very simple. All I do is keep aside a block of time in the early mornings to sit quietly and focus inwards. That is all one needs to do. Invest in the process and I can promise you what you’ll gain out of this practice will be far beyond your expectations.
The time I set aside each day is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. It helps me stay focussed on my goals and keep negative thoughts at bay. It makes a tremendous difference, to how I face the day ahead. The monkey mind that swings from one thing to the other is not juggling anything then, but sitting in stillness, working in tandem with the deep breaths and holding the consciousness in the here and now. The sense of comfort in solitude is often a bonus!
My only grudge is that these quiet hours don’t last long! Washing off the grime and dust of everyday living, they slip away as softly as they come.
As sunlight filters through the curtains, I know it’s time to head back into a busy world, once again. And as I do, I know I’ll be waiting for another twenty-four hours, before I find myself ready to be alive to the joys of solitude, once again!
Written as part of our #SoulfulSunday freewriting exercise—a concept ideated by Vinitha, Shilpa and yours truly.