In our multi-connected social media world, we all need a space that helps us to decompress and listen to the voice within us. In every home, we can find a tiny space waiting to fill our silent need. However, for many people, being alone often comes too close to lonely – too close to “the monster called alone.” Yet we all need a time for solitude to help create positive dialogue within ourselves. The challenge of solitude is to find a regular time and place for the serenity that connects us with our gratitude voice.
I have always believed that houses with nooks and crannies were designed by architects who knew the value of secret places — the closet with a window, the hideaway beneath the stairs, the special attic. These were treasures of intrigue when we were children. As adults we can learn to cherish them for the solitude they give to us.
Creating the perfect place for prayer and connections using a camera
In the country, I had a closet with a window overlooking the lake where an osprey fished at dawn and two blue herons pranced at dusk. There I kept a small desk, prayer journal, and a candle. My other favorite desk was one that I used for collecting note cards to pen off correspondence to family and friends.
When we moved to the city I had to figure a way to put into a small condo my prayer desk, a computer desk, and also a note writing desk. I decided to use a camera to look at the rooms from different perspectives. First standing in the middle of the room, I photographed each corner. Then standing in each corner, I snapped more photos from different angles.
Really assessing each wall and corner helps identify the perfect spot for a retreat. Through photos, or even a critical eye, you can see the section of a room that has unnecessary clutter or an awkward emptiness just waiting for you to adapt it for your serenity space.
In Beacon Hill, I found that my solitude desk fit perfectly under the bedroom window overlooking the river. However, it took hours of moving the bed, nightstands, and Martha Washington chair several times over to achieve a “Feng Shui” look of clean lines and balance. Once accomplished, sometimes just sitting there quietly I am reminded of those to whom I should be writing or what I should be writing about when I am ready to do so.
Productive solitude moments
What about reading during moments of solitude? Psychologist Keith Oatley, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, has written that fiction “enhances our abilities to empathize with other people and connect with something larger than ourselves.” However, silent moments are best when the interaction is simply with oneself rather than involvement with a character in a story.
To achieve the greatest benefit from alone time, here are some thoughts:
If making a space for solitude feels awkward at first, buy yourself a journal and call alone time your gratitude time. Then use the special moments to yourself to express thanks. Gratitude is an attitude which brings invaluable benefits. During times of solitude, gratitude seems to come more naturally because it is easy to start with a simple, "I am so grateful for this time to myself."
You may wish to read: 4 Steps to Gratitude in Happy Times or Sad Ones.
Copyright 2015 Rita Watson
Oatley, Keith. Changing our minds, The Greater Good Science Center, Dec. 1, 2008 and at The Psychology of Fiction at PsychologyToday.com.
Women's Ways Of Knowing - Amazon.com: Women's Ways Of Knowing: The Development Of Self, Voice, And Mind. 1997. Eds: Mary Field Belenky, Blythe Mcvicker Clinchy, Nancy Rule Goldberger, and Jill Mattuck Tarule.
Adapted from: Watson, Rita E, “A Serenity Journal: 52 Weeks of Prayer and Gratitude.” Paulist Press, 2000.