Being bored is a skill often overlooked by this generation. Solitude is a word that is forgotten. Why should anyone ever do nothing? Not only does it sound weird, you will receive a funny look when you answer you were doing nothing.
But what if I tell you doing nothing for short periods of time is what will enrich your life and give meaning to it?
It is the art of doing nothing.
Do You –
- Pull out your phone waiting for the elevator
- Take your phone to the bathroom
- Use your phone during ads or boring parts of the movie or tv show
If you have more than 25 seconds of free time do you pull out your smartphone to quickly “check” it. Do your hands twitch or you have an urgent need to do something, anything when you are bored?
This generation is experiencing something called solitude deprivation.
What is solitude deprivation?
“A state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds.” (Carl Newport)
It is normal today to be anxious all the time, but what is happening is we have so much input and information overload in the hyper connected world of the 21st century it is short circuiting our brain. Our brain needs time off to reflect and realign itself. Not once are we alone with our thoughts!
Infact, today we are so scared of being alone we view loneliness as a disease. Being seen alone is seen as defeat. People today are scared of being alone with their own thoughts, they are terrified of being alone or worse being bored.
The rise of social media and being connected and fed information all the time can be directly linked to the lack of solitude in the personal lives of the millennials. Direct scientific evidence proves the sudden rise in the spike of anxiety amongst the youth can be directly linked to solitude deprivation with the advent usage of social media.
“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”
— Mark Twain, 1835-1910, American writer
How to practise solitude?
To practise solitude and for it to be effective, certain conditions need to be met.
It has to be voluntary, loneliness with self reflection is solitude but involuntary loneliness is harmful.
Ensure you have no external sources distracting you. Start by breathing slowly as just feel your body relax, feel your brain cool down. Do nothing, stare at the ceiling, look outside the window, people watch, go for a walk (without your phone/silent). Just THINK, let your brain run free, don’t try to control it. Reflect and relax.
It is often assumed solitude is only achieved during meditation. Why do we enjoy nice long showers, quiet night drives or early morning jogs? It is because we are in a state of serene solitude, we are reflecting and letting our brain relax from accepting new information.
Solitude is something precious to me, it brings me immense peace. I often zone out when doing work on auto-pilot; it adds a sense of stability and meaning to my life. It allows me to look at things from a different perspective and I believe one can find answers to a lot of life questions in their solitude. It makes me much more creative, my mind can run freely when nothing is holding it back. I am not scared of being alone, because I can enjoy my own company.
A life without solitude is like climbing a mountain without stopping to admire the views. Meaningless.
“How can you hear your soul when everyone else is talking?”