Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh, Solitude! An Important Invitation from a Wise Woman...

Please welcome, my dear friend and guest blogger, Cheryl Wright. (Cheryl Wright Perspectives).

She is a gifted writer who has been speaking to women for years through the power of her pen. Her message is clear and oh, so important. Make sure you take time for you—all alone—and enjoy the pleasure of your own company. Seek solitude! 

There's a question posted at the end. We'd love to dialogue with you about this. Welcome, Cheryl! Thank you for being here today!

Ode to Solitude

We are social beings and we derive a large portion of our happiness from our connections to and relationships with others. Plus we are accustomed to the constant physical and verbal activity that surrounds us. Still, the need for occasional periods of solitude is just as vital to our mental and emotional welfare.

Solitude and you.

It's where we can ask, "Who am I?" Can we really lie to ourselves about who we are? In solitude, there are no caves or walls to hide from ourselves. In our solitary moments, we can identify the person who lives in our skin and walks in our clothes.

Solitude sequesters us from the pressures to conform and compromise. It helps us to understand who we are thus explaining the reasons and rational for our emotions, individual tendencies and preferences. It creates the atmosphere for heartfelt reflection, acceptance, forgiveness and the resolve to be true to ourselves.

Solitude and spirituality.

The Bible tells of leaders in the Old Testament, like Moses, who often pulled themselves away from their families and other companions to talk to and hear God. In the New Testament, it was Jesus’ habit to withdraw from the company of his disciples for private sessions with God the Father. Many people have testified that they felt God’s presence, heard his voice and sensed His guiding hand in their moments of solitude. Solitude draws us in and ushers us into the portal through which we can seek and commune with God, through prayer and meditation.

Solitude and creativity.

Researchers, psychologist and persons of almost every creative persuasion, can attest to the benefits of solitude. Sometimes, in solitary moments inspired ideas surface to reveal how they can be merged with old, new or emerging skills. Or they appear as innovative sparks to prompt us to try something we have been avoiding. We can make use of solitude’s gentle probing to develop our creative inclinations or delve into a new adventure.

Solitude and rest.

Stealing away for a few moments of solitude will restore our energy as we give our bodies the rest it deserves. Additionally, solitude will provide the much-needed break from the presence and chatter of others. When our physical pace slows or stops completely, solitude helps our minds to adopt the same pace and our mental faculties improve. Overall, we will emerge from our time of solitude physically rested and mentally refreshed.

Solitude and life.

Solitude quiets the noise of our normal existence and allows us to hear our true thoughts, and feel our most intimate and genuine feelings. It opens our minds to find solutions to our life puzzles and to consider possibilities previously hidden in the noisy whirlwind of our busy routines. Often, solitude presents the inspiration for change in various areas of our lives. If we adopt the practice of regular periods of solitude, we will no doubt notice a slower, more thoughtful and positive response to the road bumps in our lives.

Do you avoid solitude or barely tolerate it, anxious to be set free from it? Or, are you comfortable and contented with solitude, soaking up and allowing all its benefits to enrich your life? 

Cheryl and I are eager to hear ...


Cheryl Wright’s essays, feature articles and columns have been published online and in print since 1998. It was only six years or so into her writing journey that she recognized the connection between her lifelong love of solitude and writing. They feed off each other and they both nourish and inspire her as well as her writing. Cheryl writes a weekly column for the Womanwise Magazine along with miscellaneous feature articles on her specialties - self-improvement, lifestyle choices, identifying and pursuing one’s dreams, living full, free and fulfilled lives. She maintains a blog Cheryl Wright-Perspectives where she shares her perspectives on her overriding passions.

(Image "Be Strong as Mountain, Be Gentle as Feather" courtesy of


Cheryl Wright said...

Good morning Jan,

My grand daughter is asleep, hopefully for an hour and a half, at least. So I can hangout here for a while. After she awakes, I will pop in periodically to chat with those readers who leave comments and ask questions.

So tell me Jan, did you have a moment of solitude this morning? I did.

At 5.30 am it was still quite dark) but way in the distance the edge of the rising sun was peeping through the branches and leaves of trees. I sat in the living room with a cup of coffee. The front sliding doors were wide open to let in those precious early sights, sounds and scents of a new day.

Jan said...

Welcome, Cheryl. I did not take specific time for solitude this morning, not yet, but I will right now. (I usally do, part of my early morning routine, but I had to get this post up, LOL). I had a very busy weekend, visiting my daughter at college. So I have good intentions for myself today, including writing a bit in a long neglected journal. Much is afoot in me (ala the previous post about feeling like an egg) and I want to record some of it...

The house is quiet. I am alone. I will light a fragranced, mulled cider candle now, light the candles on my altar space, too (so prayers go out) and put on some soft, ambient music. These steps invite me to solitude. I find I need a period of solitude every single day or I get a little cranky! Solitude is vital to my spiritual health...

Cheryl Wright said...


Me too with that crankiness. It becomes my aura when I don't get or make time for daily solitude.

The candles, the ambient music, the soothing drink, a book that inspires and a journal to record our musings all help to create the right setting for the most benefits from our solitude.

Cheryl Wright said...


Any errors that you see in my comments/replies, blame them on Sian. She's awake and fighting to send her own comment.

Nadia - Happy Lotus said...

Hi Cheryl and Jan,

Years ago when my life was a mess, I did not love solitude. I used to walk into my apartment and immediately put on the television.

Eventually, things in my life got worse and I hit rock bottom which was a huge blessing. As a result, I began to really work on discovering who I was and my place in the world.

That was over 12 years ago and one of the benefits of all that inner work was that I came to be at peace with myself and as a result, I love my moments of solitude. Every morning I go out for an hour long walk and it is a form of meditation for me. It clears my head and helps me to connect with my inner voice. I also do an evening meditation too. So for me moments of solitude are vital.

Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with all of us.

Cheryl Wright said...

Hello there Nadia-Happy Lotus,

Your experience proves that times of stress, turmoil and trauma, especially at an emotional level, often take us to a place where solitude soothes and heals us.

I'm glad to hear that moments of solitude have become a vital part of your day and they are enriching your life.

Jan said...

Your story is so inspiring and a perfect testimony that "crash and burn" often leads to "blossom and grow!" Solitude really is vital to this process. Getting still enough to listen to our essence which wants to bubble up from within. I am glad to hear that you continue to honor your self in this way.

After a very busy weekend, I have taken today in solitude, until now, 3:00 pm when my husband came home for a late lunch break. So the "busyness" of daily life sets in, but it always feels so much more manageable after time spent in silence and solitude. :-) The well is full...

Kel said...

I am comfortable and content with solitude, and find, as you write about it Cheryl, that it serves my creativity, spirituality and health well

I am grateful this is one area in life that seems to work well with my natural tendencies :)

Observing recent interactions with my sister, however, reminds me that personalities differ, and what might feel nurturing and sustaining for some, feels lonely and scary for others

I make it a priority to leave my workplace in the middle of the day, take my lunch down to the river, and sit in solitude and quiet while I eat. My work colleagues -who shovel lunch down in the tea room while answering phones, and reading the newspaper- think my midday retreat is amusing, but I have learned what works for me. Funnily enough, they seem to prefer working with me when I get my midday retreat :-)

Miche | Serenity Hacker said...

Hi Cheryl, this is a beautiful post on the benefits of solitude and how vital it is to our well-being and fostering a connection with spirit.

It's interesting that I just was at your blog yesterday, and now you have this wonderful post here. Glad I've recently discovered both places!

I wrote a post regarding silence recently, sort of another take on it regarding using boredom (or stopping habitual "doing") as an opportunity to connect with our intuition, as you so eloquently put above Solitude quiets the noise of our normal existence and allows us to hear our true thoughts, and feel our most intimate and genuine feelings. It opens our minds to find solutions to our life puzzles and to consider possibilities previously hidden in the noisy whirlwind of our busy routines."

Mine is called "How to Get From Boredom to Intuition" and the link is here:

I ended with a wonderful quote from Mother Teresa, which is fitting for this post as well:

God cannot be found in noise and restlessness.
God is the friend of silence.
See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…
We need silence to be able to touch the soul.
~Mother Theresa

Thanks for writing something so inspiring and reminding us that silence is an oft neglected friend.


Jan said...

I appreciate your perspective, esp. that solitude is warmth and welcome to some and to others very scary, a waste of time, or just plain undesirable. So important to honor where each of us finds ourselves. I'd be with you, having a picnic lunch, watching the sky, perhaps even jotting my new little moleskin journal. (Thank you, Ingrdi!) That is, if you and I could be silent together. Perhaps we would just chatter like magpies....

I ended up having the most lovely solitudinous morning myself, though my "ego self" wanted to call me "Slacker!" I read the new Kidd book, took a nice bath, wrote a letter to a friend, so nice! A half-day Sabbath like this is something I need to give myself now and then, even when deadlines loom!

Sharmila said...

Generally, I love solitude but sometimes lately I find it very uncomfortable for I'm already waiting so much and preparing in this sacred opening space for 'the unknown' and so its kind of a mix of both right now.. It is true that God speaks in solitude and I'm getting more of that,.. but hmm.. its still a wrestling at time to not be doing something. Thank you for a lovely post! ;) I'm seeking balance and community!
lately I miss the latter so much and contributing more! sigh ~luv Sharmila ;)

Cheryl Wright said...


That's the thing about solitude. We can find it or create it anywhere.

My preference and craving for solitude continues to baffle and amuse my friends. However, I no longer feel awkward. I own my love for solitude and I engage in it without explanation or apology.

You have done the same. Even your co-workers recognize and enjoy the benefits.

Cheryl Wright said...

Miche | Serenity Hacker

I opened the link to your post in a window to read later.

Thanks for sharing the quote from Mother Theresa. It will definitely have a place in my quotation collection. She captures the true essence of solitude and silence.

Thanks too you lovely comment about my blog and this post in particular.

Cheryl Wright said...


We who love solitude have the same issues. For a while, everything just seems to work together to deliver solitude to us on a golden platter. Then there are those days upon days when solitude, as much as we crave it is MIA. All our efforts to find it or set the stage for it, like Jan does, is to no avail.

Sometimes too, our heart cries for a different kind of nourishment. At those times we should try to facilitate that need.

Whenever you need the comfort and inspiration from "community" seek it out. Saturate yourself with all it's benefits. Then balance it all with moments of solitude.

Cheryl Wright said...


And when the well is full, it overflows. It tickles creativity, fans our passion and filters out to touch and inspire others.

Jan said...

Thank you for this beautiful contribution! I find it somehow ironic silence, by its very nature, speaks volumes to us. :-) And so glad you have connected with Cheryl. She is a wise woman indeed, with her finger on the pulse of all things womanly! Did you know she lives in the West Indies? Someday I dream of visiting her there. :-) I can hear the swishing of palm trees now.

I agree with you about being MIA. Some days are just like that and there is no point in beating ourselves up about it. We, as women, I believe, are so very HARD on ourselves. Why do we expect so much? Even spiritual perfection. Ugh! May we all ease into greater self-love and compassion for matter where we find ourselves each blessed silence or coercive chaos.

Jan said...

Jen (Sharmila),
I perfectly understand about solitude often feeling uncomfortable. Tis true. There are times when I feel as if am not "meant" for solitude. I feel the resistance. (And often my "other self" says, 'Forget about it. Go to TJ Maxx. LOL).

So that uncomfortableness does invite us deeper, to sit with not knowing, or angst, or any strong emotion. Plus, we are so habituated to be busy. Enforced solitude can usher in feelings of being ill at ease. To be expected. Old habits die hard.

Again, may we be gentle with ourselves wherever we find ourselves! And trust that all is well...Are truest selves are unfolding....

Cheryl Wright said...


When all our efforts fail, when life is just too darn complicated and noisy and busy and crowded, we can try to salvage a few minutes, just a few, just, say, five or ten minutes, after we have slipped into bed, to take a few breaths to literally and/or symbolically release the anxieties of the day and invite the peacefulness of a good night's sleep.

It is a wisp of silence and solitude, subtle enough and significant enough to ease ourselves into restful sleep.

Laura said...

Hello Jan and Cheryl, (and all!)

I've gone from not liking at all to be alone to wanting more and more of it. If I don't have my dose of solitude I feel so scattered. So reactive.

Yet I also crave good company.

It's a balance.

Reading this makes me realize again how much I've learned to enjoy my time alone. I really don't feel alone at all then. Not if I have plants and art around, or a book...or anything beautiful at all.


Cheryl Wright said...

Hello Laura,

Discovering the joy and benefits in solitude can be quite an amazing turnaround.

People who have not arrived there yet, mistakenly believe that our love of solitude translates to a disdain for company, good company.

What they don't realize is that solitude is not about other people. Instead, it is about nurturing ourselves on all our levels. One natural consequence of that kind of self-care is that it equips us to be good company. (Read Kel's comment above, about her co-workers response to her after she has had her lunchtime solitude).

Continue to enjoy your solitude.

Cheryl Wright said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl Wright said...


Tell me some more about this word:


It sounds delicious.

Jan said...

Good morning, Cheryl. Well, I must say my morning has not been "solitudinous" but I hope to get a hefty dose this afternoon.

What does this term mean to me? It is akin to "contemplative." I would describe it as a state of mind, heart, and being where solitude is highly valued. There is strength in solitude. It is not about being lonely or isolated...

What it also reminds me of is "virginal." Meaning, a woman unto herself. I am intrigued by the use of this term when it comes to our holy figures (and goddesses). As I understand it, the translation of the term (virginal) did not have anything to do with sexuality. It had to do with inner strength, wisdom, capability of self. When I am feeling solitudinous, I am feeling contemplative and virginal. Again, meaning, I am content with what I am doing in the moment and who I am, even content with being quiet. Not having to exert my "self" onto someone else. Not having an agenda to speak to be heard, right or the center of attention.

How about that?

I am so glad to hear about your inner shift regarding solitude. Very powerful. I do believe that the more confident and self-assured we become, the easier it is to be with ourselves...And it doesn't mean we don't like to be social, because I certainly do. But I do love that balanced with alone time. :-) Yes, balance is key.

rebecca said...

I am so happy I happened upon this site. Solitude. I've always been very comfortable being alone and letting the sounds of life/nature be the music/chatter of the moment. I find I need it, like I need water to survive. I've always been hypersensitive to noise so you can well imagine how silence plays an important role in my life. I've been married 30 years; no tv or radio has ever resided in our bedroom. My bedroom is my haven and night is the time when I wind down to quiet the accumulated noise of the day. Luckily for me, I have had a husband who is very accommodating and has learned the benefits of my ways. The thing that most strikes family members when they come visit is how quiet our home is. No muzak of tv going unless one is actually watching it. My husband likes the soft classical music and new age music that he puts on on the weekends when we are at home doing chores. All of it is very nurturing to the soul and to the body. Interestingly enough, our daughter, who lives on her own, did not fall far from the tree either. A teacher by profession, she goes home and enjoys the solitude and silence of the day at home. She craves it. If she doesn't have it, she gets very cranky! And, how very true, it is in the silence of our own thoughts that we learn most from ourselves.

Cheryl Wright said...


Those thoughts on "vaginal" are new to me and they are powerful.

My heart echoes your declaration:

"I am content with what I am doing in the moment and who I am, even content with being quiet. Not having to exert my "self" onto someone else. Not having an agenda to speak to be heard, right or the center of attention."

Cheryl Wright said...


When the ones we love the most make room in their lives for us to be our authentic selves, to love what we love and to pursue our individual interests, our lives are richer. Y live is richer because of your husband's loving accommodation.

I love what you said,

" is in the silence of our own thoughts that we learn most from ourselves."

Jan said...

A Freudian slip here I believe. The term is "Virginal," not "vaginal." Oh, my....

I am glad that you find these thoughts interesting. To get to the original meaning of "virginal" we would have to go back beyond Anglo-Saxon roots and usage of the term. The whole notion is very intriguing. :-)

You are very blessed to have such a supportive partner. My husband is very much the same way. As I am a writer and work at home, it is very important that my space reflect peace. We do not have a TV. Any music is of the ambient kind or jazz. (No talk radio) People who come into our home say it feels very peaceful. I am an HSP (a highly sensitive person and everything affects me--sound, light, smells, etc. so I know what you mean. :-) I am glad to hear that you have found a rhythm of life that works for you.

Kel said...

Jan, as always you and your guest blogger have generated some insightful discussion here, and LOL, I agree that if we met face to face we would probably chatter like magpies . . . no silence there!

Cheryl, so true, helping other people benefit from solitude, even if it's me doing it :) Just one more way of attempting to live what I believe.

Cheryl Wright said...

Oh Jan.

It's so funny. For a brief, very brief second I wondered and took a second look but just dismissed the rising question and moved on.

Thanks for clearing it up though.

My husband was not always as accommodating as he is now. In the early years of our marriage he held the common view that I was being selfish.

I never fought or made an issue of my need for solitude. I took it wherever I found it.

Now even he makes his claim to moments of solitude. We're on common ground where solitude is concerned. Still he will readily insist that I am more addicted to it, (more solitudinous) than he is. It's wonderful when we and the people we love the most have a happy meeting of the minds on a practice that is so important.

see you there! said...

I benefit from solitude and I'd say for my husband it is almost as important as air.

We're fortunate to have a little get away place and we usually go there one at a time. I just smile when many (most) people think we must not get along.

I need small gulps of solitude daily but two or three days absolutely alone (with no electronics) really clears my head.


Jan said...

Kel, may we all live these truths and honor our spirit that desires to proclaim them. I do believe that our humble (and often stumbling) example invites others to do the same. 'Come on in,' we say, 'the water's fine!'

Dear Darla, (See You There),
Welcome! I appreciate your voice in the circle. Your getaway place sounds marvelous!

Being away from electronics does clear the head, doesn't it? I find that too much exposure to those (esp. too much time at computer) really wires me. I try to take one full day a week to stay off the computer. :-)

You have given us much wonderfulness to think about today. I did get my moments of solitude and quite in today. Reading Sue Monk Kidd's new book (just can't seem to stay away from it), a little walk to the beach, an afternoon bath (how decadent!) and some journaling.

AND I got a ton of work done. Fleshed out my workshop for this weekend, created a handout, and even a new marketing piece to distribute at the conference. Here I thought I wouldn't get much done today because I was feeling far too menopausal for comfort this morning. Silence and solitude bring generous gifts!

Sharon said...

It has been a delight to follow this conversation, and it has helped me solidify some of my own learnings about solitude. The past two years I have had an abundance of time alone, not always of my own choosing, and it surprised me that I didn't enjoy it because most of my life I savored any time I had by myself. But I was/is in a state of transition and wasn't comfortable being alone with myself. I now see that I needed those extended periods of solitude to come to terms with myself, accepting myself for who I am without my children or my husband around and without a role to play. Now I feel like I am in limbo, in between what was and what will be, but I can spend days at a time alone, with long periods of quiet, and not feel anxious or panicked. It is through solitude that I am learning who I am and listening for what comes next.

Wilma Ham said...

Hi Cheryl and Jan

Busyness and noise were like stauts symbols weren't they? If you were not busy or noisy than you did not look good, you were not important for goodness sake.
Now we are going the other way and I like that a lot better.
My daughter is in the busy finance world and she has been told to be more loud and noisy?!
She is quiet, observes and thinks!

Quiet time does recharge batteries and I too am far more productive when I am calm and centered rather than frantically trying to do everything in a hurry to a deadline.
We have moved to rural living, it is so soothing and in the year that we have lived here I have gained so much more insight.
I am far more peaceful too.
I hardly enjoy going into the city where the rushing seems ridiculous.

Noise is to distract us from our own thoughts and connection to our own heart, I so agree.
We have no television, newspaper or radio.

Life can take over sometimes, but now I am aware of it and will not fall in the trap of becoming busy with it.

I love solitute now where I once was afraid of it.

Love to you both, Wilma, she who looks beyond.

Cheryl Wright said...

See you there,

That's on of my dreams - to have a little beach cottage getaway so that I can take big gulps of solitude.

Cheryl Wright said...


Did I tell you that I cried many times while reading Sue Monk Kidd’s Firstlight? She spoke to my heart on almost every page.

Which book are you ready now?

Cheryl Wright said...

Hi Sharon,

Your story is the story of many who are now lovers of solitude. Forced solitude often becomes the catalyst for favored solitude.

Solitude is also an all-purpose treatment for many of life’s ills and uncertainties.

You have discovered that it helps to bridge the gap between what was and what will or could be by helping us to accept and embrace what is.

Cheryl Wright said...

Goodnight Wilma,

Thanks for sharing your experience before and after you embraced solitude. Stark difference huh?

Love and blessed solitude moments to you too Wilma, she who looks beyond.

Jan said...

Isn't it just amazing what a year of solitude will do? I tell people that if they could do just one thing to improve their lives these days, turn off the television. It is an enormous addiction, time waster (in many cases), energy sapper, and more. (Yes, I have pretty strong opinions on this one.) I am glad that you have found such great benefits from your move.

A profound learning you share here and I commend you for sticking to this path. Navigating solitude, especially when it seems uncomfortable, is a very big victory. Congratulations on this!

I have read all of the Kidd books. This is her new one, co-authored with her daughter, "Traveling with Pomegranates." I adore it. A mother-daughter tale into the Divine Feminine. Chronicles their pilgrimages together. Both women are journeying deeper into their truest selves. I do not want it to end....Sigh...I hear SMK is going to be in Florida this winter when I am, where I am. I will be sure to go see her at this book event. Meant to be:-)

Cheryl Wright said...

Well Jan,

I hope you get to meet meet.

Lisa (Mommy Mystic) said...

Jan/Cheryl, As usual, I am a bit late to the party on this post, but so glad to read Cheryl here, I have often admired her comments. And solitude is a favorite topic of mine.
As for your question, I am very comfortable with solitude, and actually always have been. Some would say it is my Aquarius Moon, and some would say it is having moved a lot as a child, so that I learned to play alone. I don't know. I do know it is a powerful and necessary source of peace and balance for me.
That being said, I do know that at times on my path I have been perhaps too attached to solitude - going off on my own when perhaps I could have benefited more from sharing with others, or asking for help. So some of us need to become more comfortable with solitude, and as in my own case, some of us need to become more comfortable with sharing/community. It is a balancing act, for me anyway.

Cheryl Wright said...

Hi Lisa (Mommy Mystic),

Late? I don't think so. It seems as if we're heading for a third day of comments on solitude.

Just occurred to me that we are engaging in some balancing here. Each of us, probably having our solitude moments, as well as visiting and sharing and learning here at Jan's blog.

Cheryl Wright said...

Oops! Jan. I meant I hope you get to meet her.

Jan said...

So many of us struggle with balance, don't we? The key seems to be developing discernment practices so we are able to best tell what is good and right for us in the moment. :-) Which, interestingly, requires silence and solitude. :-)

You have been just a marvelous guest host. I've appreciated your attention and intention for promoting "spiritual health" in all of us. I've really enjoyed chatting with you and others around this subject. I'm due to change the post now, but thank you, and we can keep going if others wish to. In fact, stay tuned to the next post, because it is leanings of solitude again!

May the days and weeks ahead provide beloved solitude for your growth journey.

I treasure our friendship! Give a hug to dear Sian today. What a lucky little girl she is to have a grandmother like you!

Cheryl Wright said...


It was such a wonderful experience being a guest blogger here. Did you know this was my first guest-blogging gig? I'm glad you invited me.

I so enjoyed chatting with those precious women who stopped by and shared their stories and experiences with solitude.

When women get together, there is such love, and openness, and sharing, and understanding, and encouraging, and inspiring, and.... Our connection runs deep and it is so evident here, at A Room of Her/Our Own.

It was a blast.

Jan said...

No I did not know it was your first... You were and are a consummate professional. I do love when women gather. And I also hope this site will continue to be a hearth that will hold and sustain our growth journeys. Love the notion of hearth...

Thank you, my friend. We will do this again.

Cheryl Wright said...

With you hosting and the caliber of readers/commenters that visit and engage in these stirring and inspiring discussions, I can see A Room of Her Own being here - a daily staple to sustain us on our individual journeys.

A Hearth to nurture our hearts.

twila said...

Oops, sorry I'm late...but let me just add my praises to the joy and wisdom of solitude. Solitude is probably my greatest joy in life. It is in solitude that I have deconstructed and reconstructed my life and spirituality. It is in solitude that healing and restoration often occur. And, of course, it is in solitude that the outer quiet nurtures the inner quiet that we so desperately crave.

Jan said...

I'm with you. I think it is my greatest joy too, besides reading...Ok, writing too. :-) Solitude, for those of us who are so inclined, is the cure-all, it seems. Takes care of everything!