The Value of Solitude & Silence
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” – Albert Camus
In a society where an aspect of success is measured by the accumulation of wealth, power, and prestige, it can be easy to lose one’s sense of self. The stress of feeling perpetually dissatisfied, comparing oneself to others, and ruminating on perceived shortcomings can take a hearty toll on your overall well-being. When each day has become bogged down with negativity, it’s time to pause and take stock of your life and priorities. If you are constantly chasing one marker of supposed success after another, it’s worth asking yourself some simple, yet important, questions. Only you know what resonates as true for yourself… and there are no “right” or “wrong” answers.
- How do I define success?
- How will I know when I am satisfied or content?
- How do I typically deal with setbacks or unexpected stressors?
- How do I manage stress?
In order to gain greater perspective on the life you have created for yourself and the goals you are moving toward, you must be willing to look within yourself. This means taking a momentary break from jumping from task to task in order to listen to your inner voice. It’s possible that the still small voice within has been muffled for some time from constant noise on the outside. It is not unusual to feel uncomfortable to simply be with… sit with… and listen to your inner voice. The value of taking the time for mindful solitude and silence from the external world may be much greater than you think.
According to Dr. Robert J. Wicks (2008), our interior lives “provide us with inner strength, a sound attitude, and a sense of honesty or transparency” (p. 73). Consider how much time – and the quality of that time – that you devote to self-reflection. It is worth noticing how much time is spent on mindless tasks, trivial concerns, or incessant worry. When the mind is filled with so much inner chatter, it’s quite difficult – if not impossible – to experience mental clarity, self-compassion, and self-determination.
The choice to integrate even one simple mindfulness exercise into your day has the potential to boost your physical, mental, and emotional well-being… really. If your mind is interjecting thoughts about how you’re simply too busy to meditate, try challenging yourself a bit. Practice being honest with yourself… do you have 5 minutes in your day that you could use for a positive purpose? I’m willing to bet that most of us spend a bit of time each day ruminating about the past, worrying about the future, or feeling scattered in the present. As Dr. Marsha Linehan, founder of DBT, puts it, “mindfulness is living with your eyes wide open.”
Mindfulness meditation offers the opportunity for self-renewal and a healing respite from constant competition, anxiety, struggle, and self-doubt. It is within these moments of solitude and silence that you have the opportunity to build the inner stability and confidence to live with greater meaning, purpose, and integrity. Today is the perfect opportunity to direct kindness toward yourself and practice self-care. Try giving yourself permission to take a short break from your daily routine to be still and listen to your inner voice. You deserve it.
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- UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: Free Guided Meditations
- The Free Mindfulness Project
- UCSD Center for Mindfulness: Guided Audio – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Wicks, R.J. (2008). The resilient clinician. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Featured image: Solitude at Dawn by Rick Schwartz / CC BY-NC 2.0
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