It is vital to take time to contemplate or think carefully because it gives our intuition time and space to speak to us. However, many modern cultures do not see the value of solitude. See why it’s essential.
Our modern culture values us based on our productivity. The corporate culture is all about engaging employees to get the most return on investment. To sit and think is unproductive, yet if you make a mistake, this is another reason to condemn your efforts. One must learn how to incorporate contemplation into their schedule, not an easy task.
“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; It isn’t easy in solitude to live after our own. But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Value of Solitude
We are creatures who need to spend time alone. It’s essential to have time for ourselves. Time alone is the most natural form of self-care. When we are alone, without a plan, it gives us time to think, feel, and normalize. It’s a way of connecting our creative and intuitive minds. So, a seeker of solitude is a call from our inner essence.
“Ah! I need solitude. I have come forth to this hill at sunset to see the forms of the mountains on the horizon – to behold and commune with something grander than man. Their mere distance and unprofaneness is an infinite encouragement. It is with infinite yearning and aspiration that I seek solitude, more and more resolved and strong; but with a certain weakness that I seek society ever. — Henry David Thoreau
When we take the time to contemplate or think carefully will help us avoid making errors in judgment.
“To seek solitude like a wild animal. That is my only ambition.” — Dalai Lama
There are many things to contemplate. What does it mean if we are not alone in the universe, or what if we are? What happens to my consciousness when I die? These types of questions are necessary to give our lives perspective. Contemplating these kinds of questions is a way of sparking our creative minds.
The problem is our modern culture does not value personal time. It looks at contemplation as a waste of time. It doesn’t appear that anything productive is taking place. The cultural narrative is all about being 100% you being productive 100% of the time. It is this constant drive for productivity that is unhealthy for our minds and our bodies.
We lose connection with our natural creative and intuitive abilities when we don’t make time to contemplate. Our intuition wants to speak to us, but we are too busy most of the time. So, spending time alone gives our intuition time and space to talk to us.
“I go in solitude, so as not to drink out of everybody’s cistern. When I am among the many, I live as the many do, and I do not think I really think; after a time, it always seems as if they want to banish myself from myself and rob me of my soul.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
Learning To Contemplate or Think Carefully
Spending time alone, especially in nature, is good for our mental and physical health. Spend time forest bathing or meditating in a garden. It is a simple way to connect with our essence. We are part of nature.
The seeker of solitude and nature go together. The wind and the environment bring much-needed healing to our souls. We can become so caught up in the commercialized culture that we forget who and what we are.
We conduct our introductory meetings near forests or gardens. The seclusion one experiences in nature will calm and focus the mind. We cannot overstate the value of spending time alone. It heals the soul, the mind, and the body.
When we take time to contemplate, we hear the messages from our bodies and our souls. If we stop long enough, things will surface that we have kept hidden because our mind focuses on daily tasks. Connecting with ourselves and our nature is the actual value of solitude.
A Seeker of Solitude Differs from Someone Lonely
We should not confuse time alone or seclusion with loneliness. Taking the time to contemplate or think is healthy. Being alone does not make you lonely. You can be lonely in a crowd. So, the lack of people around you does not make you alone or isolated. Seclusion is not the same as loneliness.
“Loneliness is not the experience of what one lacks, but rather the experience of what one is… It is ironic how much of our freedom we spend on power — on conquering death, disease, and decay, all the while concealing from each other our carefully buried loneliness, which, if shared, would deepen our understanding of each other.” — James Leonard Park, Essay on Loneliness of Spirit
There are three kinds of loneliness, social, emotional, and spiritual loneliness.
1. Social loneliness
When you are without reliable relationships. The lack of people to share interests with, on whom you could rely. It is a lack of trust.
“I used to think the worst thing in life is to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” ― Robin Williams
2. Emotional loneliness
Feeling like you have no meaningful connection or relationships. You don’t have a significant other, spouse, or partner. You feel distant from everyone, even your family.
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” ― Mother Teresa
3. Existential Fear
The loneliness that comes when we avoid the fear of death. We know this as spiritual or existential loneliness. This loneliness is a sense of longing. Social connections are not enough to fulfill this need. So, no matter how good our relationships are, you can still feel like something is missing.
“Fear isn’t the desire to avoid death or pain. Fear is rooted in the knowledge that what you recognize as yourself can cease to exist. Fear is existential.” ― John Scalzi, The Ghost Brigades
Religion cannot fill this void. It provides a counterfeit distraction it calls the afterlife. But this is merely trading one fear for another. Instead of facing the fear of death, we become obsessed with the potential loss of afterlife rewards. Now we get to fear hell.
You can still feel ’empty’ and ‘lonesome.’ If this sounds like you, realize you cannot fill this need through personal relationships. You can only quench it by following your heart. It’s the inward quest that Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey. (1) It’s what spiritual exploration is all about. And it is one of the first major spiritual lessons.
Learning to Contemplate or Think Carefully
Different types of contemplation lead to the same destination, our intuitive mind.
Subject Oriented Contemplation is where you ponder about a particular subject. It could be a person, place, or thing. You aren’t trying to solve anything; you are simply thinking about it or them. It is sometimes referred to as “aesthetic contemplation” or “higher contemplation” because you are thinking about the positive aspects of the subject.
“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” — Albert Einstein
Buddhism says there are six worthy kinds of contemplation. They contemplate Buddha, the Law, the Buddhist Order, observing the precepts, the benefit of almsgiving, and rebirth in heaven or reincarnation.
Chaotic Contemplating is where you allow the mind to wander without expectations. It is the most common type of practice. It opens the mind to the power of intuition, which can lead to eureka moments of clarity. Albert Einstein is a proponent of this kind of contemplation.
Theological Contemplation is pondering or thinking about a particular aspect of doctrine. For example, Catholic theology restricts this type of contemplation to the subject of God. Other religious sects are not as restrictive.
Contemplation is a Part of Spiritual Exploration
The seeker of solitude is often someone on a spiritual quest. The fact is, many of history’s greatest sages and teachers sought time to contemplate and think. Jesus of the New Testament went into the wilderness alone to confront and conquer his deepest fears. It is in solitude that he realizes his true nature. Buddha also went into the wilderness alone to meditate. They are seekers of solitude who had unique eureka experiences.
Spiritual exploration differs vastly from religion. Religion is dogma, centering on three things. First, what created our universe, or what ordering intelligence created it? Second, what happens when you die. Third, rules and values which control behavior. This doctrine revolves around fear and reward. There is the fear of eternal punishment for those that disagree and an eternal paradise for those who believe.
The value of solitude is immediately evident when developing your path. We all need to have time alone to think, meditate, and practice. When you do this, spiritual loneliness fades away. The inner quest is the answer to spiritual loneliness. And the ancient tools for expanding awareness and opening the doors to higher states of consciousness are the right tools for this quest.
Our modern culture does not understand the value of solitude, but taking time to contemplate and think carefully is vital. When you take time to think isn’t a waste of time instead, it is a necessary part of our emotional and physical health. Learn to become a seeker of solitude and reconnect with nature and your intuition.
(1) Joseph Campbell’s book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell#The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces