Solitude–spending time alone. Our mind may or may not be racing, we may or may not be truly be present in the moment
Silence–Being in a state where there is an absence of noise and sound, externally speaking. One isn’t necessarily alone at this time.
We sometimes tell ourselves, “I need some time to myself”. I wonder what people really mean when they think this…do they mean they just want time away from other people (solitude), or do they mean they want some time away from commotion, to have a chance to turn down the volume in life, and experience not only solitude but actual silence?
This begs the question….HOW does one quiet the mind? We can do so in several ways–by paying attention to our breathing–via meditation, yoga, or even via simple, mindful deep breaths (stopping, breathing from the abdomen, taking a minute or two to just be present).
Music can also help us do this, as can a gentle bath or shower.
We can also attain a level of silence by focusing on something–art, poetry, writing, even physical activity. If we do something we love, we can sometimes experience a silence and serenity that is very powerful.
Something else that I encourage: When we are first getting up in the AM, or laying down to sleep in the PM–take a few moments to be silent, breathe calmly and deeply, and appreciate the good things you have in your life. I also make it a point to read something inspiring, comforting, or hopeful during the first and last moments of each day. I’m convinced that this helps us set a positive tone for our day and for our rest. I believe that this ritual also cultivates serenity, a highly related concept!
One other question: WHY should we take time for silence in our lives? The benefits are many:
It allows us to reflect on our lives in a way that we cannot do when we are busy and there is noise around us
It gives us a greater sense of awareness of self and our environment
It can help us become more creative. When we are less invested in controlling our mind, creative and resourceful things bubble up in our minds
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you find that the experience of silence brings up painful issues for you, and/or creates more anxiety, sadness, etc. rather than doing anything good for you, I strongly encourage you to consult with a mental health professional! l can help you work through these issues and gain a greater level of serenity.