There is a reoccurring daily appointment in my calendar that is more important to me than any planning or review.
It’s my scheduled alone time.
I schedule fifteen minutes early in the morning and when possible I spend that time outside with a cup of tea.
There is no checking of my phone (albeit I have it with me and a timer running). No cat or spouse. There aren’t even notebooks (or pens).
Solitude is imperative for health.
We’ve been lead to believe that constant connection is important. As I’ve delved into deep work and questioned my relationship with technology, I’ve found increased value in practicing solitude.
What are the benefits of this solitude?
My mind clears. It centers on what is really important (prioritizes), sorts through things (evaluates), and focuses on what I need to pay attention to that day (negotiates).
This is the time of day when I often solve problems that stymied me the day before.
What happens after?
When I return to my desk, I open a notebook and record what I thought about and often rearrange the scheduled projects for that day. This has a side benefit of making me use my memory and not rely on other tools beyond myself for this. It’s a brain boost!
What if I skip it?
The world doesn’t stop spinning, but I do feel off. I work to find at least five minutes in another way, often by sitting in my car in a parking lot or closing myself in a bathroom. Not ideal, but it will work.
Why the bathroom? I tried to spend this time in my studio, but found it was too easy for all the things there to distract me. In the bathroom all that distracts me is a small room that needs to be cleaned!
But mindfulness is trendy!
Yes. Meditation and mindfulness has existed in many different traditions for a very long time. It may be called meditation, it may be called prayer, it may have a different name to you. It’s also possible that you may have experienced it when going out for a walk, cleaning the bathroom, or sitting to meditate in a more traditional manner.
Mindfulness can exist inclusive with solitude, and they both also exist exclusive of each other. I can be mindful while hiking with my spouse or sitting alone outside with a cup of tea. The key for this practice is being alone.
Try to schedule five minutes of solitude every morning next week. What happens?