"Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self."
- May Sarton
What is Solitude?
The word solitude evokes remoteness and seclusion; it evokes a place or state of mind that is set-apart and sheltered from interruption and distraction. While related, it is distinguished from loneliness because it can also imply that one has found solace and a source of inspiration in isolation or retreat.
How do I practice Solitude?
While solitude may conjure images of remote settings like Thoreau’s famous cabin at Walden Pond, one can find the peace of solitude even in an urban setting. To deeply contemplate the natural world, a poem or work of art can awaken a sense of cherished solitude. Likewise, cultivating an awareness of one’s own thoughts and emotions can create a sense of solitude. Solitude can be found in your home, a retreat center, a garden or in a local park.
Challenges and Commitments of practice?
Because solitude is related to isolation, it can be an intimidating – even frightening concept for many people. If you are made nervous or agitated when left alone, you might start exploring solitude in a group retreat. In that setting, if you feel overwhelmed by stillness or loneliness you can turn to your instructor and other practitioners for support.