Due to the events of last year, some of us have been forced to spend more time by ourselves. Or at least, in the company of a smaller number of people. That's been difficult on many of us. Even those who tend to be introverts have struggled with loneliness. Though, we can easily spend many hours alone in front of the TV or mindlessly scrolling. What I advocate here is spending time in solitude. Focused, mindful solitude.

Some confuse solitude with being lonely. But this is different. It is choosing to spend time with yourself and getting to know yourself almost as you would a friend. And truly, sometimes we can feel lonely even when we with others.

Many great thinkers, both past and present, have recommended this practice of solitude. Whether you spend time in meditation, prayer, writing, or even just allowing yourself to be still, and *gasp,* even bored for awhile is one of the most powerful ways we can come to terms with our own life journeys and get to know ourselves.

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Mozart, Thoreau, Wayne Dyer, Maya Angelou, and countless others have shared that their times of solitude were among the most important practices in which they engaged that allowed them to get to know their hearts and minds and then in turn realize what they wanted to say and to give to the world.

When you're not used to just being alone, it can feel strange. When you get quiet, you may notice what almost feels like a bit of a buzz and many thoughts may begin to rush through your head. That's normal. That's part of why it's so important to do this.

I have recommended meditation many times before and this is why. This practice allows you to quiet your mind and reach a deeper place of calm. It can truly be a sanctuary from the madness of the everyday world and strengthen you so that when you return to the busy day, you're coming from a strong place. It has also helped me calm my anxiety.

Practical ideas to begin? 

Take an hour, or even thirty minutes a day and consider: 

Writing in a journal. Prayer or meditation. Take a walk simply for the purpose of being in nature and with your thoughts. Listen to classical music and fully focus on every note. Take a few deep breaths. Work in the garden. Just be.

The key to all of these? Don't engage in the activity just for the sake of the activity. Mindfully choose to spend this time listening to your own heart and thoughts--without judgement. Just listen.

If you do this consistently, your life will change.

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