Soul Sculpting Project: A Sip of Solitude

Soul Sculpting Project: A Sip of Solitude

Aloneness – Loneliness
There is a difference.

Loneliness is when our felt need for connection with others is not being met.

Aloneness is our natural desire for solitude.

But is solitude good for us?

In solitude we choose to step away from the demands and desires of others into a freedom that creates numerous positive outcomes.

Let’s begin with rest.

If you are like most people (and I am), solitude is where we go to rest. Solitude as a place to rest is confirmed by the world’s largest survey on rest, BBC’s Rest Test.

What do we do to rest in solitude? The top 4 activities are reading, sleeping/napping, looking at or being in a natural environment, and spending time on my own. Spending time with friends/family doesn’t come until #13 on the list, right after #12 – spending time with animals.

What else is solitude good for?

Researchers find that Solitude:

  • Increases our creativity and productivity.
  • Helps us regulate our emotions.
  • Boosts engagement with others. A time in solitude helps us reconnect with our self. This reconnection helps us connect with others.
  • Promotes a sense of freedom
  • Opens a door for spiritual renewal

Solitude creates a space for deepening our connection with God.

Solitude is a place to find clarity and direction.

Solitude is a formative place.

In the midst of his challenges Elijah fled to the desert and was led to a cave where he encountered the “still small voice’. Elijah received clarity and direction in this solitude with God. 1 Kings 19:9-18

Christians throughout history from the Desert Fathers and Mothers, to St Francis, to Mother Teresa, have used solitude to pursue their faith.

Henri Nouwen goes so far as to say, “without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.”

Jesus, himself, sets us the prime example of an intentional solitude practice.

Jesus began his public ministry with a 40 day withdrawal into solitude. Jesus continued his active life with regular times of solitude.

For example, on a Saturday evening early in his ministry, the whole town came knocking on the door of the house where Jesus was staying. He came out and spent his evening healing the sick and freeing people from demons. “In the morning a great while before day, Jesus rose and went out to a lonely place where he prayed.” Mark 1:35

Later in Jesus’s ministry “news about him was spreading even farther and great multitudes were gathering to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Luke 5:16

Read the Gospels with an eye for solitude and we will find that Jesus often stepped away from people to spend time alone with God.

When is solitude good for us?
  • When solitude is voluntary and we can step back into good relationships –
  • When we don’t let negative thoughts spiral us into a pit –

Then solitude offers us a door to increased creativity and production, regulated emotions, improved relationships, freedom, rest, and spiritual renewal.

Soul Sculpting Project: A Sip of Solitude

Set aside 3-5 minutes to withdraw from people (even social media) and engage with yourself and God.

Tips and ideas:

  • Take a short walk, sit with a hot drink, find some nature.
  • Journaling is an effective tool to work through challenging situations and emotions that may come up in solitude.
  • What are the odds that someone will want your care and attention in the middle of your tiny solitude time? Pretty high for some of us. Give love first, then try again for solitude. Eventually it will happen.

In the Song of Solomon we hear our invitation to solitude with God.

Come away, My beloved…

Song of Solomon 2:10

Enjoy your sip of solitude.

Gratitude to solitude researchers: Rest Test BBC; Margarita Azmitia, UC Santa Cruz; Thuy-vy Nguyen, Durham University; University of Rochester; Michigan State University Extension; Robert Coplan, Carleton University; Christopher R. Long, James R. Averill; Virginia Thomas, Wilmington College; Jack Fong, California State Polytechnic University; Kenneth Rubin, University of Maryland.

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