by Lori Rabun
It might seem somewhat strange to ask you to spend time alone. Spending time alone, however, is necessary for developing a healthy relationship with yourself and nourishing who you are. Time alone can involve quiet time in which you are doing nothing, or it can involve activities that you engage in by yourself.
Spend Quiet Time Alone
Getting to know yourself requires a lot of self-reflection. Self-reflection is best done in a quiet space. By being alone in quiet, you think more and are forced to pay attention to your feelings. So often, people drown out any opportunity to hear themselves by flipping on the television, listening to distracting music, or engaging in some other activity that requires concentration. When your focus is shifted to other things, there is no chance to just “be” with yourself and experience whatever comes up.
Self-reflection helps you figure out who you are. You can begin to appreciate how you feel about certain things. It allows you the time to process and sort out your emotions. You can use this time to work on building your character. It is not a time to criticize your weaknesses, but instead to focus on healing and learning from life’s lessons. It gives you the opportunity to brainstorm solutions to challenges and ask yourself how things should best be handled. All of this brings you closer to knowing who you truly are.
When you are quiet and still, you can more clearly hear the voice of God and your own intuition speak to you. You need to quiet your mind’s chatter and the background noise of your day to make room for the still, small voice to speak to you. It may be the voice of God giving you an answer to your prayer. That little voice could be your intuition nagging you to make a different choice in your life. It is through quiet and solitude that the truth speaks the loudest.
Spending time in quiet solitude nourishes your soul. Why do you think you feel so refreshed after a good night’s sleep? When your body and mind have completely shut down they are refueled for a new day. By spending time in quiet solitude, you recharge your battery. You only have so much energy to function on before you start running out. When you start running out, you become short-tempered, irritable, impatient, tired, or even spacey. Regular time for yourself will do wonders for keeping you refueled, emotionally available, relaxed and happy.
Spend Quiet Time Alone Engaged in Activities You Love
During your alone time, give yourself the gift of engaging in activities you love but seldom get the opportunity to participate in. Engaging in activities that bring you joy is another way to nurture your soul. Every night before bed, I escape to my bedroom for my nightly ritual of reading. I love books! I spend some time reading spiritual material that feeds and grows my soul. Then I indulge in whatever fiction book I happen to be reading at the time. My husband, on the other hand, stays up late at night watching his Rolling Stones DVDs or listening to his favorite music. This alone time for each of us is extremely important. We protect it like a mother bear protects her cub, because it’s what we need to wind down and refuel for the next day.
Spend Time Alone Engaging in New Activities
Engaging in new activities during your time alone can help you explore more about yourself and learn things you didn’t know before. One summer, I decided to take a much needed weekend retreat by myself. I drove to Door County, Wisconsin – a beautiful place for enjoying nature. I brought with me an open mind and a desire to try new things.
One activity I participated in was a trip to a local art studio. It was a two-story house set up for all kinds of art activities — ceramics, glass painting, metal, wood works, etc. I chose something I had never tried before – creating a mosaic piece of art. There were jars and jars filled with tiles of every color and texture you can imagine. There were endless possibilities for creating mosaics on wooden boards. I chose a board in the shape of a big coffee cup that I could hang on my kitchen wall. I had so much fun creating it; plus I learned something about myself. I really enjoyed doing mosaics. Had I not ventured into something new, I would have never known this about myself.
Find Time to Be Alone
For some people spending time alone is something they wrestle with. It may be scary for those who fear being alone. Initially it may feel boring. It is easy to become distracted and lose your alone time. It may be difficult to make time for being alone, especially if you live with other people or you’re a mother of small children.
To begin, you will have to acknowledge the sacrifices you may have to make in other areas to create time for yourself. Perhaps you’ll have to leave the house or escape to a private section of your home. You may have to unplug the phone.
You will need to choose a block of time that feels comfortable and ask other family members to respect this time and assume responsibilities, if needed, to help you out. You might consider going to your local coffee shop and having a cup of coffee with yourself. Consider a personal retreat. Find a corner in your local library. Explore a bit of nature. Go for a walk in the park. Shoot for a block of at least 30 minutes several times per week.
During your time alone, spend time reflecting on your life. Think about areas in which you would like to grow. Write your thoughts and feelings for the day in a special journal. Participate in activities you love or experiment with new activities. Make sure some of your alone time facilitates you enjoying yourself. Your emotional well-being, spiritual and physical health depend on taking alone time for you.