“The antidote to loneliness is solitude.” – unknown British author

Is there a difference between loneliness and solitude? If so, what value could understanding that difference add to our lives?

Loneliness is associated with rejection or abandonment. It relates to our relationship with the outside world. The feelings generated by loneliness may include sadness, fear, or shame. They are very real. Shunning is still one way that society punishes those who don’t go along with the majority view.

Solitude, on the other hand, represents a conscious decision to cut off the normal hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Historically, mystics in all cultures and all major religions have practiced the art of solitude. They chose solitude in order to connect with themselves and with the universe in ways that we don’t normally take the time to pay attention to.

Solitude cultivates a felt sense of silence that supports our psychological and emotional well-being. It moves us out of our ever-chattering mind and into the presence of our bodies. Solitude is not about isolation, it is about connection to our sense of being and to the world around us. It allows us to suspend our normal preoccupations and defenses in order to rest in the wholeness and interconnectedness of life. This is one way that we access our innate wisdom.

Practicing solitude does not require spending long stretches of time in the wilderness. How can you practice solitude today?

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