Solitude: not all bad!

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Ending of the Contemplative Practices

You may remember reading the other 2 blog posts on contemplative practices and how they can help speak life into each Enneagram type. If you don’t remember, here they are:

  1. Silence Read it here
  2. Stillness Read it here
  3. Solitude (today’s post)

We have covered silence and stillness, which are some great practices for everybody. Silence is especially great for Types: 5,6,7 and Stillness is especially great for Types: 8,9,1. But what about our “head/fear triad?” What about our Types 2,3,4? What about SOLITUDE? While this is great for Types 2,3, and 4 it’s also great for all of us. Personally, I love solitude and I practice it weekly! Multiple times in fact! And, get this, it’s not all that bad! In fact, you might even look forward to it after practicing it a few times.

Solitude Defined.

Well what do we mean by “solitude?” We do NOT mean prison! It should not feel that way at all. We also do NOT mean being a “loner.” What we DO mean is finding that space and that time to be completely alone to engage with yourself, your fears, your strengths, your thoughts, and more. If you’re a follower of Jesus like myself, this is a great time to engage with Jesus. In fact, Jesus was famous for being alone multiple times to engage with God. Solitude is recharging!

Solitude is when we intentionally go out and be alone to be with our thoughts and to grow as human beings. Many find this peace in nature or on the water. I find it anywhere outside! Or in my favorite coffee shop with my journal. What is that place where you can peacefully be alone? Note the keyword: peaceful.

How to practice Solitude.

This seems kind of weird doesn’t it? “How” do I practice being alone. Seems self explanatory: go where nobody else is. But there’s more to it than just being alone. Far more! Let me lay out some helpful tips as you engage with this practice. If you’re a Type 2,3, or 4 this will seem scary at first but the payoff is incredible. Give it a chance! Here’s some helpful tips.

  • Find a place you can be alone that is peaceful to you. This could be a park, your living room as the kids sleep, your car to go for a drive, or just a walk through town. The goal is to find a place with no distraction that you can have peace as you practice solitude. For me, a great place to practice solitude is on the water in a kayak or a paddle board. Another great place is a hiking trail. Recreation is a great time to just be alone.
  • Allow the thoughts to come in that are drowned out normally when you’re surrounded by people. Don’t be afraid. And don’t think things just won’t get done, they will! Take a journal and when you are finally able to get over the fact that you’re alone, write! Write what you feel, what you think, whatever comes to mind as you are alone. For me, this is a great time to pray and remember who Jesus says that I am. ** just a tip, LEAVE YOUR PHONE BEHIND!
  • Give yourself time! Sure you can do this in just 30 minutes which could be really helpful on a normal basis for you to have just 30 minutes alone each day. BUT, I would also challenge you to go beyond that and map out some time as often as you can to spend 1-3 hours in solitude.

Why practice Solitude?

Those are some simple, helpful tips to get you started. It will look different for everyone but those tips can really help you as you try this at first. All this talk of Solitude begs the question of “why.” Why should we leave our busy lives to go and just be alone? There’s too few seconds in the day to practice solitude.

I promise you that you will not be “behind” from taking the time to care for yourself. You will even see that many of your greatest ideas come to you when you slow down and just go off alone to recharge. You will also notice that your body, your mind, and your soul just flat out FEEL BETTER! It’s great medicine. Many who practice solitude realize that they were carrying around the weight of their world and they feel lighter when they offload that weight and refuel themselves.

Another reason to practice solitude is that it’s fun! When do you have an excuse to just go and do something you love without feeling guilty? Never! But when your spiritual and emotional health depends on that time alone you can do just that. You are a better person when you are just “with” yourself and you can mine the depths of your heart instead of other people’s.

Practice Solitude.

We could spend an entire blog series on each of these amazing practices. Specific Enneagram Types (as we have outlined) benefit from each one but all of us can grow as we practice these. Solitude is by far my favorite! I am a better man, husband, pastor, and follower of Jesus as a result of my time alone.

I hope you have the courage to practice solitude. At best, you will come back brand new and re-fueled with probably your best ideas you’ve had in a long time. At worst, you got to spend time doing something relaxing and fun to you. Win win!

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