The Power Of Solitude: Exploring The Deep Impact Of Spending Time Alone
Sometimes, to have success you may need to go away for a while – alone.
What may be one person’s nemesis could become your bliss. Being alone and feeling lonely are two completely different things. It’s possible for 2 people to feel lonelier than they could have imagined in a relationship where the connection has been lost. But this isn’t about loneliness.
This is about the benefits of the deep impact that spending time alone can bring.
The work ethic in the Western world is riddled with the importance of working hard and ‘busy-ness’. The pressure of ‘always being seen to be working’, and always at your desk carries a misplaced kudos that spending long hours in the office is the ‘thing’ to do.
Have you ever found yourself secretly craving an opportunity to spend time alone but, so far, have avoided getting anything in the diary?
What’s stopping you?
Busy-ness Is A Problem
“You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re busy, then you should sit for an hour.”
Old Zen Meditation
Or is it? Maybe it’s more that we don’t understand the deep impact of spending time alone and have not been taught to value it.
Having 10 minutes of quiet time without interruptions and no tech, is a start if you’ve never tried choosing to switch off before. But 10 minutes doesn’t really cut it.
Getting away for a minimum of 3 days, tech-free, will begin to show you what it’s all about. The deep, cathartic, changes you open yourself up to when you take yourself away from the mundane distractions of the day to day.
Solitude isn’t just for Buddhist monks and Hindu Sadhus. Solitude can be for anyone who wants to discover new perspectives on their work and life and come to uncluttered conclusions without the influence of others. It offers an opportunity to people who want to know themselves better, and be better.
When you remove yourself for more than just a few minutes from the habitual, mundane distractions that surround you, you may be surprised to discover how much you’ve been missing about yourself.
However, spending time alone isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, not least because it’s often been used as a form of punishment – from solitary confinement for some adults to disciplining a recalcitrant toddler in their bedroom.
However, spending time alone can be very powerful, as well as cathartic, and is an overlooked and under-rated opportunity for feeling your way to new insights. It allows us to see persistent problems from an entirely new perspective, and allows us to connect with ourselves in ways that we may never have done before.
Solitude For High-level Decision Makers
If you’re a high-level decision maker, consciously choosing to spend quality time alone to rinse away the over-thought and worn out ‘solutions’ that may be dragging you down, is at the very least deeply refreshing and often transformative. It can allow for previously unseen opportunities to appear in the present moment creating significant shifts from stodgy, tired thinking to sensing the possibilities. Spending time alone is an inspiring leveller.
When you leave behind the thrum of city life and everything that’s competing for your attention, you can give yourself time to stand and stare. To just be. Time to notice the small stuff. Being able to choose the rhythm of your day will help you condense and distil your thoughts. You can empty your head, stop the mind chatter, and then wait and see what fills the space.
“When I touch that flower, I am not merely touching that flower, I am touching infinity.”
George Washington Carver – American botanist and inventor
Packing just your vision or conundrum and leaving the rest behind means going offline, disconnecting from habitual distractions and connecting with your Self, and sensing your inner knowing, possibly for the first time. There is richness in being rooted in the present moment, and you’ll find that you’re able to evoke your most inspired ideas when you settle in to being by yourself for an extended period of time.
And time does matter. 10 minutes sitting against the trunk of a tree in a park at lunchtime can be very peaceful, however it will never match the deep impact that true alone time will give you.
When we separate ourselves from the white noise of our work environment and the habitual distractions of home life, curious and wonderful things can happen. By going some distance away, we change the perspective of what we are creating and get new insights into its development.
Being More By Doing Less
Best ideas are never created staring at the computer screen. It’s not about trying harder to think smarter – that lacks flow and inspiration. It’s about not thinking at all. Best ideas happen when we rest our minds and allow expansive awareness to take hold.
Usually, a walk around the block or a stroll through the park is sufficient to blow away superficial cobwebs and clear the head, but it has little impact on accessing the deeper areas where inspiration lies. Innovation and breakthrough thinking happen when we take considered, constructive time-out.
Spending an extended amount of time on our own gives us the space to develop an idea, solve problems and notice a connection to intuition in a deeper way. This allows us to trust our judgment without our conclusions being influenced or diluted by the opinions of others.
“If you can have the experience of being in the moment for two or three days, we don’t only feel restored, it seems to produce a difference in qualitative thinking and mental performance.”
David Strayer, Cognitive Psychologist
When you give your brain the chance to adjust into relaxation, then you begin to connect to your hidden seams of inspiration.
When you’re immersed in solitude and your intention is to spend that time allowing your vision to develop in an unconstrained way, you’ll notice a sense of anticipation, and completeness. A blending of you with it and it with you. Spending time alone with your vision allows you to re-calibrate, re-evaluate and re-group.
Being Alone On Purpose
Where you choose to spend ‘you time’ alone matters too. Find somewhere that is immersed in an intense creative field giving you the opportunity to access a place of deeper knowing and repose. A place that offers you the privilege of living to your own rhythm, time passing as it wants to pass.
You now have the privilege of living to your own rhythm, the luxury of pleasing yourself, ensconced in your own thoughts with nothing and no-one to distract you.
The thing about spending time alone for the first time is we have nothing to compare it to. With nothing to calibrate it against, we may wonder if it’s worth taking a punt.
Being alone on purpose for the first time is to flirt with a change of consciousness and to soak up the privilege of being present.
This sojourn will trigger fresh thinking and focus the mind.
You’ll be presented with new perspectives. After a couple days, you’ll notice that the part of you where all the answers are held is eased open. The hidden seams of inspiration in your subconscious mind. Keep a notebook and pencil beside you, because answers and ideas will begin to show up as you sense a connection to something much bigger than yourself.
When you return to your work, your vision will have deeper clarity, you will be more focused, and you will have a fresh perspective on the work. What is precious about spending time alone is that inspiration is unpolluted and pure. Your thoughts are free from interruptions or the opinions of others.
Our inspiration and sense of self is smothered by the 21st century distractions of Wi-Fi, smart phones and smart TVs. Offline is becoming a necessity where we can access those instinctive and intuitive parts of our Selves.
Spending time alone with a purpose, is very different to ‘going on a retreat’ for self-reflection.
When you are being pulled along by a deep desire to lead a change, taking time to be alone with an intention to create and refine your vision, is unquestionably an advance. Making a conscious decision to take time out and to tap into the subtle dynamics of being alone is likely to turn it into something extraordinary.
When we allow the process to unfold naturally and trust that everything we need to know is already here, the subconscious readily offers up to us everything it has been holding onto, waiting for this moment. The more we connect with our subconscious the more it gives us.
Ultimately, by regularly tapping into the creative potential of taking time out alone, it’s possible to access our infinite well of creativity and innovation at will.
Being alone gives you space to be yourself – giving you time and space to feel who you are so that, when you return to being with others, you will have developed an inner strength and deeper knowing of your Self.
Solitude Can Strengthen The Mind
Learning how to be comfortable being by yourself builds a mental resilience and self-confidence in knowing that it’s not necessary to rely on others all the time. Studies have found that people who set aside time to be alone often tend to be happier, more satisfied with life and have lower levels of stress.
“It might take a little bit of work before it turns into a pleasant experience. But once it does it becomes maybe the most important relationship anybody ever has, the relationship you have with yourself.” Professor Matthew Bowker – Psychoanalytic Social Theorist
Being alone gives your brain a chance to relax, to let go and to wander. Without the need to meet a schedule, be socially interactive or meet deadlines you will begin to sense a growing confidence in the truth of your deeper thoughts.
Spending time alone is something to embrace, cherish and respect. The more you do this, the more you will notice deeper clarity and a sense of grounded certainty in your way forward.
During 2022 we will be running a series of Open Days at the cottage. As well as the small workshops introducing you to the fundamental inner work needed to help navigate personal and organisational change, you will get a sense of how the deep impact of spending time alone can accelerate the changes.
With best wishes until next time
Second Open Day – 20th May 2022 (10am – 4pm)
To dip a toe in the water of the experiences we offer, I am inviting a small gathering of like-minded business leaders to an Open Day at the cottage in the forest in the stunning surroundings of the Llanthony Valley, in the heart of the Black Mountains, Monmouthshire.
The Day can be enjoyed on its own or used as a route to hear more about the range and scope of the experiences we offer.
A luscious lunch is included and we’ll also be exploring some fundamental concepts of choice and thought processes, with the intention of introducing a clear direction of how you can lead differently.