By Gwenn Voelckers
In a world that constantly moves at a breakneck pace, solitude can feel like an elusive luxury.
Yet I’ve come to cherish and celebrate those moments when I find a quiet moment to reflect, contemplate and rediscover the simple joys of life.
I’ve learned that solitude is not about isolation; it’s a chance to reconnect with oneself and everything around us.
It was a gorgeous fall day when I took a walk in Mendon Ponds Park and was filled with the joys and benefits of solitude. On that crisp, cool afternoon, I heard the leaves crunching beneath my feet and listened to the wind rustling through the trees.
I was surround by the colors of fall, and was reminded that solitude isn’t an empty space, but rather an active state of being present with myself and the world around me.
It felt like a breath of fresh air for my soul.
• Personal Reflection — One of the greatest joys of solitude is the opportunity for personal reflection. In the midst of our daily chores and chaos, it’s so easy to lose sight of ourselves.
We’re often too preoccupied with our roles and responsibilities, constantly reacting to the world around us. I know I am.
But when I slow down, I can pause, take a step back and contemplate who I am, what I value, and where I’m headed. It’s a chance to reconnect with my “true north” and ensure I’m on the right path.
An anecdote that beautifully illustrates this occurred during a solo retreat I took last fall around this time. With no one to talk to but myself, I began a conversation with my own thoughts. It was during those moments that I realized I had been neglecting some of my passions and dreams.
This solitude provided me with clarity. It inspired me to make positive changes in my life. On returning home, I rededicated myself to my music and my writing.
• Creativity Unleashed — Another remarkable gift of solitude is its power to foster creativity.
In the peace and quiet, our minds are free from external distractions, allowing our thoughts to meander and merge in unique ways. Surrounded by silence, I find myself lost in thought, daydreaming about stories to share or problems to solve.
Solitude is a space where ideas are born and nurtured, unfettered by a “monkey mind,” which can overtake our thinking.
For readers who are not familiar with monkey mind, it is a Buddhist concept that describes a state of restlessness and lack of control over one’s thoughts.
The idea for this column on solitude was illuminated for me during one of my morning meditations. In that secluded moment, with my cat on my lap and no interruptions, I reflected on the topic and composed the words I am sharing with you now.
• Gratitude and Contemplation — Solitude also teaches us the profound art of gratitude and contemplation.
In the tranquility of time alone, we’re better able to reflect on the blessings that surround us. Whether it’s the taste of a warm cup of tea, the scent of a distant bonfire, the wonderous look in a child’s eyes or a friend’s warm hug, solitude amplifies our capacity for gratitude.
It makes us aware of life’s simple pleasures.
At the end of the day, before drifting off to sleep, I often take time for calm contemplation, considering life’s many intricacies and, sadly these days, life’s atrocities.
This restful lull before dozing off helps me count my blessings and appreciate the beauty that resides in and around each of us.
• Recharging the Soul — For me, one of the most valuable aspects of solitude is its role in reenergizing my soul. Life demands so much attention and energy. As my own sole provider, I’m pulled in many directions, as are all those who live alone.
Tranquil introspection allows me to slow down and recharge my batteries. It’s a sanctuary where I can step away from the hustle and bustle, relax and reconnect with what matters.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, as are the holidays in December. Social gatherings and obligations can be overwhelming. And exhausting.
I’ve learned that stepping away for a brief period can help me regain my balance and perspective. I can then truly enjoy and appreciate the time I’m spending with the people I love.
• Wrapping up … — It bears repeating: Solitude is not an escape from the world, but rather a gateway to rediscovering its profound wonder and beauty.
It allows us to tap into our creativity, embrace gratitude, and recharge our spirits.
While it’s crucial to nurture meaningful connections with others, we should also remember the joys of solitude, especially during hectic and challenging times.
In closing, know this: In the stillness of your own company, you just might find the inner contentment you’ve been seeking all along.
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Alone and Content empowerment workshops for women (now on hiatus) and the author of “Alone and Content: Inspiring, empowering essays to help divorced and widowed women feel whole and complete on their own” To contact Voelckers or purchase her book, visit www.aloneandcontent.com