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Solitary Refinement: The Profound Power of Solitude

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“Above measure the singular pleasure of solitude” – MF DOOM (Bookfiend)

That line serendipitously seems to seep into my consciousness whenever I’m immersed in the unique euphoria that solitude brings.

Solitude can be indescribably blissful, or utterly torturous, depending on your state of being and self-love. Solitary confinement? Or solitary refinement? The choice is up to you.

I spent the majority of this past weekend in solitude and it was completely cathartic. That’s why I’m even writing this right now.

We live in a society that overly praises extroverted tendencies and dismisses introverted tendencies as being “anti-social.” Noise is excessively celebrated, while the silence that all sound comes from is overlooked.

With this imbalance skewed towards extroversion, the word “alone” has become synonymous with “lonely.” But that’s not the case at all. You can be lonely in a crowd, or feel connected with all-that-is when alone.

I’ll ask you this: Have you mastered yourself, accepted yourself and do you love yourself enough to bask in the glory of solitude?

“Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature.” – Albert Einstein

You must view solitude as a necessary practice in order to become the best version of yourself.

Solitude comes with an abundance of benefits. It’s no coincidence that many of the greatest people to walk the planet engaged in a regular practice of productive solitude.

Getting to know yourself.

The phrase “Know thyself” was famously inscribed at the Temple at Delphi. Knowing oneself is absolutely crucial for any form of self-awareness or personal growth.

Solitude is the fertile ground upon which the seeds of self-mastery of sewn. When it’s just you and your thoughts, you’re able to bring the subtleties of your own nature into conscious awareness.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” – Lao Tzu

Empowerment.

Everything you desire, is first and foremost, an inside job. External peace is not possible without inner peace. External harmony is not possible without inner harmony.

If you choose to be happy, you’re empowered. But if you rely on external factors to be happy, you’re giving your power away in exchange for victimhood.

By engaging in productive solitude, you build a solid foundation to become the master of your own destiny.

Idea generation.

Solitude gives you space to reflect. It provides the golden silence necessary for you to receive the subtle gems of the universe.

Ideas just flow effortlessly when you’re alone and in a good state of mind.

Recharging.

Solitude acts as a rejuvenating self-reset. It gives you the opportunity to take a break from the chaos of modern life and bring yourself back to equilibrium.

The ability to give more when around others.

Just as you’re able to perform at your physical peak after a good night’s rest, you’re able to give more to others after engaging in solitude. Restful yin energy is what allows for the maximization of the active yang energy.

Someone who has developed themselves simply has a greater capacity to give. Remember, you can’t truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself.

Also, independence is cultivated in solitude. So this means that you’re far less likely to be a nuisance or unnecessary burden to others. Conscious alone time is essentially flexing your handle-your-business muscle.

You’re most free when alone.

There are no compromises, no voting and no worries of pleasing people. Every decision you make is entirely up to you. That’s why it’s easy to be boldly spontaneous when alone, which can be a lot of fun.

Solitude fosters creation.

“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” – Pablo Picasso

Almost all artistic creation occurs in solitude. There is a level of concentration reached when alone that just doesn’t happen around other people. Combine this with the idea generating nature of solitude and you have a recipe for prolific creation.

I create my best work when alone. I’m also hard pressed to create anything with others around. A subtle reason for this is that I give everything I’m doing my full attention. So if I’m with other people, connecting with them is my focus.

Great people have always embraced solitude.

People who have made a significant impact on the world spent a lot of time in solitude.

Buddha and Jesus went off by themselves for years. This solitude was a major part in both of their breakthroughs into the level of consciousness available to all of us.

A major aspect of the hero’s journey (described by Joseph Campbell) is this form of self-discovery.

“Opportunities
To find deeper powers
Within ourselves
Come when life
Seems most challenging.”
– Joseph Campbell

Writers and any artists thrive off of solitude.

This goes hand-in-hand with the last two points. Solitude begets creation, as well as the self-reflection to produce timeless works of art.

Henry David Thoreau (The Notorious HDT) epitomized productive solitude with his two year getaway at Walden Pond, where he produced some of his best work.

“I’ve never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” – Henry David Thoreau

Don’t worry though, you don’t have to go to the extreme that Thoreau did to leverage the power of solitude. All it takes is making some productive solitude a regular practice.

The point of solitude is not in becoming a recluse, but in returning to the world as an ever-evolving version of yourself.

Cultivate the power of solitude.

Thoreau-ly enjoy yourself.

– Stevie P!

Stevie P

  • Colleen

    I choose solitary refinement. Love this post. I was an extrovert in my early years and now I find I am introverted and can identify with what you are saying. Any frustration I feel on a daily basis comes from excessive noise. I work on this but it proves to be difficult some days. Being from a big family, I can’t tell you how many times I am told I am anti-social and asked, “where is the old you”. I feel the best spiritually I have ever felt. When answering I come from a place of kindness and proudly say, “I am here, I am finally here, this is me”

    • Thank you. And that’s great. Lovingly embracing your authenticity.

  • tyler

    I love your article. http://belladepaulo.com/2014/07/whats-great-about-solitude-heres-what-we-know/ is a good source on solitude as well. Thanks a lot for your insights. Be well. With metta loving kindness to you

  • tyler

    Is there a way to get a pdf of the above article ?> thanks

    • The only way would be if you copy the text and create a PDF yourself. But you gave me an idea. I might package some articles in PDF format.