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Isolation or Solitude?

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

In these days of sheltering in place, I’ve been thinking about the difference between isolation and solitude. They are both emotional states of being that seem to come upon me, triggered by a variety of circumstances and enveloping me completely. The thought that runs through my mind is, “I am alone in the Universe.”

Saying this to myself, I can sink into isolation, feeling a gut-wrenching pang that I call loneliness. I want to be anywhere but here and now. I might think about how it used to be when I was there, with them, doing that. Or, I focus on how it will be when all of this is over and my life will miraculously move forward into a bright and magical future. I grit my teeth, cry a little, hold my breath, and wait. This happens when I’m not grounded or centered to anything, especially not to my core Self. I’m just floating like a balloon with a dangling string, one that is slowly losing air. I might be seeing, hearing, or even saying interesting things but I’m just passing through; it seems as if other people and activities are part of some grand dance that I’m just observing.

On the other hand, I can revel in my solitude, remember that I’m connected to all-that-is, and reach out to people (or not) in the perfect confidence that I belong. I can immerse myself in the present moment and all the present moments that are strung together in my day. A moment might be experienced as joy or pain or creativity or boredom. But I am in it, feeling it, breathing, fully present to my Self, right here and right now. When I am grounded to my Self and my knowing, I am more like a planet in orbit, with a gravitational pull that keeps me on my path. Every sound, sight, or smell is alive and interconnected with the overall, wise flow of the Universe and I am part of it. In these instances, I experience solitude as a kind of day-to-day mindfulness that is peaceful and productive.

Essentially, I’ve discovered that I have a choice. And surprisingly, the choice isn’t that difficult to make. I just need to remember to stop, breathe, and pay attention to what is going on right now. And, recognize that – I am, indeed, a lone brilliant spark in the Universe, fully connected to all the other sparks and to all-that-is, whether I’m by myself or in the company of others.


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