“Your inner voice is the voice of divinity. To hear it, we need to be in solitude, even in crowded places” – A. R. Rahman
The widespread use of technology has improved connectivity immensely while at the same time inadvertently isolated us from ourselves and others. We spend so much of our daily lives staring at backlit screens. We compulsively search for things we don’t want and learn about people we don’t know. This hoarding of nothing and everything is perhaps a manifestation of our desire to seek the world beyond, at the cost of the world within! We compulsively post updates on social media and follow others online to make up for this self-imposed isolation. We then expect and wait for the reciprocation of likes and thus form an illusion of knowing ourselves through others. Although we feel connected in the (digital) space, we have become more lonely.
Unsurprisingly, the very thought of being cut off from others brings intense fear and apprehension. We often deal with this restlessness by trying to appear constantly busy. The nervous stutter, seen in social or awkward situations, seems to have taken a physical form, wherein one is repeatedly checking their smartphone. This impatient pretence of connection is a mere manifestation of isolation. This edginess is underpinned by fear of missing out (FOMO). Perhaps, we have come to equate loneliness with a sense of horror.
Solitude Is Not Isolation
“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulate the creative mind.” – Albert Einstein
Solitude is one of the most overlooked aspect of modern life. One reason for this could be the notion that solitude equates to isolation and loneliness. It is essential to understand that solitude and isolation are entirely different. Solitude is a conscious choice that people make to be alone and reconnect with their surroundings. For example, some people choose to be alone in a serene, tranquil place to connect as one, with nature and more importantly with the self. Solitude is a positive state, as it’s not withdrawing or going away from others and society. It is immersing into your being.
On the other hand, isolation is the state of separation or being apart from others. It is a form of suppression or withdrawal. Isolation may be externally imposed due to work or place of stay, or internally effected during fragile emotional states. So, one can cut away from others or feel alone, even while amongst them. All too often, people inflict isolation upon themselves through a ‘new way of life or digital life.’ Isolation produces strong feelings of disconnect. For many, isolation invokes fear of abandonment, rejection and lack of belonging.
The Importance Of Solitude
“Alone let him regularly meditate in solitude on that which is salutary for his soul, for he who meditates in solitude attains supreme bliss.” – Guru Nanak
Humans are social beings, and connection with others is inherent. But we deserve ‘me time,’ now and then. It helps us to relate in better terms with the world. Great thinkers and practitioners of meditation assert that you must learn to be truly alone, to get a deeper understanding of yourself and find out who you are. Being in your own company can give you the ability to shape and adjust your life and make you aware of your inner strength, so that you can satisfy your needs, rather than having to rely on others.
According to the influential mystic, guru and spiritual teacher Osho, to be alone is fundamental and foundational. In the mother’s womb, you are entirely alone. You have known that aloneness and the bliss of it, where no one was there to interfere or disturb you. There was no language, no conflict and peace was intrinsic. You were deep in yourself. This fact is profoundly imprinted and hidden in your unconscious self. Osho disagrees with religious teaching which proposes that man must move into solitariness to know oneself. Instead, he suggests one must be in solitude, not forever, but for a period and that period will depend on the individual. He cited that Buddha was in solitude for six years, Mahavira for ten years, but Christ only for a few days.
We can avoid self-imposed isolation by putting away devices and choosing a real world to connect and interact. However, when isolation is imposed, we should make an effort to practice mediation to convert isolation into solitude and reconnect with ourselves. We can achieve solitude in a crowd or by going away to the mountain or serene places. In solitude, the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself (Lawrence Sterne).
Hermann Hesse stated “Solitude is independence”.
About the Author
Dr Roshan Jain is one of the best psychiatrists in India. He is a UK qualified specialist with extensive experience in psychiatry, addictions, psychotherapy, teaching and motivational work. Based in Bangalore (India), he offers in person-centred mental health evaluation and interventions. He has worked tirelessly in reducing the stigma associated with mental health problems through speaking events and mental health awareness education, workshops & publication.
DocGenie is an online telemedicine platform that provides you quality healthcare from the best doctors in the comfort of your own space. On DocGenie, you will find a select few, highly-qualified doctors, unlike other online platforms with thousands of doctors. So you can be assured of receiving excellent, honest, personalized care from the best professionals.