Learn to enjoy solitude.
I already really enjoy solitude, it’s my preferred state but it’s not the always most productive or happy state to be in.
I’m going to use another quote from Walpola Rahula’s “What the Buddha Taught” to talk about ‘solitude’ in everyday life.
He says, “It may perhaps be useful in some cases for a man (or woman) to live in retirement for a time in order to improve his mind and character, as preliminary moral, spiritual and intellectual training, to be strong enough to come out later and help others. But if a man lives all his life in solitude, thinking only of his own happiness and ‘salvation’, without caring for his fellows, this surely is not in keeping with the Buddha’s teaching which is based on love, compassion and service to others.” (p77)
Like most things in life solitude is something to be enjoyed in balance. Rahula says that solitude is useful for self-development and strength building. But in terms of living a worthwhile life solitude is selfish state to remain in.
It’s taken me a while to actually enjoy my own company. There have been times where it’s been so painfully uncomfortable being alone with myself that anything and I really do mean ANYTHING is better.
Like I said on Day 2, meditation/mindfulness exercises have been an incredible help for me. Once you’ve cleared your mind of all the knots and aches solitude isn’t actually all that awful. You can start to listen to yourself; get to know yourself and that feels pretty good.
Obviously, I’m looking at this topic having worked through a lot of the things that make me not want to be alone with myself. I know that it’s hard. I know that solitude can be a chore. But once you figure out how to enjoy your own company it’s great. You can feel your whole body smile.
I’m going to list a few of the things that, in my eyes, DO NOT count as enjoyable solitude.
(Although you may do them alone and they may be enjoyable they do not count. Solitude is supposed to be about self-developmental and calming the body and mind not dulling it/numbing it/abusing it.)
Binge watching Netflix/YouTube to the point of no return. That 15 second countdown is just so evil… And glorious.
Binge eating cheese puffs until your fingers are permanently orange and your hopes and dreams have been slashed.
Staring at the tv in a zombie state. You’re not even paying attention to Jeremy Kyle’s nuggets of wisdom anymore.
Gaming until your eyes are crying without your knowledge and the world starts to get dark.
These things are great, really really quite great… sigh… … …
What was I saying?
They don’t count as ‘enjoying solitude’ because you’re not listening to your body. You’re just blocking your thoughts with noise and distraction until it’s acceptable to go back to sleep. It’s not healthy.
If, like me it’s impossible to resist doing these awesome binge sessions. My tip is to do them once in a while and at double the intensity.
Here’s my list of acceptable ‘enjoyable solitude’ activities:
Reading. All the books!
Music. Just listen and lie around. Or play it. However you feel the music. (I can’t believe I just wrote that and meant it. What’s happening to me?)
Writing/drawing or general creative stuff.
Walking around. Or just generally being outside.
Intertwine this with a couple of episodes of your favourite tv show/films/games. NOT ALL 10 SEASONS IN A ROW! And you’ll achieve an ‘enjoyable’ solitary state.
Oh, my morning song today: Wilson Philips, “Hold On”
Annnnd a picture of my bookshelf with my awesome organisation skills:
Here’s the Key:
Orange: Kids books
Yellow: The ones that just wouldn’t fit anywhere else
Light Green: Overflow of non-fiction (Which lives somewhere else)
Dark Green: My ‘To Read’ pile
Light Blue: General Fiction
Teal-ish Blue: Random fun Fantasy/Sci-fi
Dark Blue: Myths, Legends and Fairytales
Purple: Manga, graphic novels and cute Beatrix Potter collections
Pink: Old Fantasy Favourites
Okay That’s the end of today.
Have a nice day of solitude.