Transform depressing loneliness into nourishing solitude by seeking spiritual purpose
When we are placed in situations that distance us from others, we may naturally feel lonely. And that loneliness can drain and depress us. But it doesn’t have to; we can turn it into solitude.
The key differentiator between loneliness and solitude is the direction of our consciousness. If our consciousness is centrifugally directed, but finds no avenue for going outward, then we feel lonely. In contrast, if our consciousness is centripetally directed, then the removal of things that distract it outward can help us to go inward.
Loneliness is the state when we crave company but don’t get it. Solitude is the state when we seek to take a deeper look at ourselves: to understand what things truly matter for us; to remind ourselves of the values and purposes that are sacred for us; and to accordingly re-align our daily activities. The Bhagavad-gita (13.11) states that solitude is a characteristic of knowledge — solitude gives us the space to internalize the life-lessons that lie latent in our many daily experiences. We can access and assimilate those lessons only when we give ourselves a break from constant outer engagements such as socializing and chitchatting.
For most of us, the inner territory doesn’t seem very interesting or can even seem confusing and disorienting. That’s why we need appropriate resources to tap the power of solitude. Some such resources are wisdom-texts such as the Gita and introspective practices such as yoga, meditation, prayer and journaling. Ultimately, solitude helps us come closer to our essence — our soul as well as the whole whose parts we are, Krishna.
When we tap solitude as an opportunity for spiritual growth, it can nourish and energize us while we are alone. And later when we resume our social engagements, the reorientation resulting from well-spent solitude can help us become more focused and effective.
Think it over:
- What is the difference between loneliness and solitude?
- How can we transform loneliness into solitude?
- What tools can help you tap the power of solitude?
13.11: … Constant and unalloyed devotion to Me; aspiring to live in a solitary place; detachment from the general mass of people; … [ – all these I declare to be knowledge].
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