Solitude and Loneliness

(Photo by Microsoft Clipart) ~~ These are two very different subjects yet somewhat related in the sense of our needs and awareness.

I thought about this when I read a passage from Kent Nerburn’s book entitled Simple Truths (pg. 57) where he says:

“Solitude is a condition of peace that stands in direct opposition to loneliness. Loneliness is like sitting in an empty room and being aware of the space around you. It is a condition of separateness. Solitude is becoming one with the space around you. It is a condition of union.”

It’s true. You can be in a crowded room and feel isolated, cut off, alone. Yet, you can be miles from civilization on a mountain top with only the trees, sky and wind as your companions and feel as if you’re one with all of life.

Why is that? How can we have such contrasting states of being? It’s not just different people experiencing solitude or loneliness but this contrast can appear within us at different times of our lives. What are we focusing on that gives us such peace or turmoil?

When we feel the world is unfair and not providing what we want, we put ourselves in a state of isolation and loneliness. It is not that the world is necessarily being unfair but it is that our understanding is only centered on self and we get fearful or uncomfortable when it’s not going our way. We are focusing only on the external and if it satisfies our needs or not. We want people, things, to fulfill us and they can’t. They aren’t designed to fulfill that longing and desire deep within.

On the other hand, solitude is the surrendering of self allowing the fullness of life to flow and be experienced. It is in this state where we find peace and fulfillment unlike anything a temporary external form could provide. It is in this peaceful place of the ebb and flow of life where we operate in handling the noise and endless chatter.

You don’t have to go to a mountain top to find solitude. We take it with us where ever we go – it is within us. There will always be countless errands to run and endless labors of life long after we’re gone. Accept the rhythms of life and when you need to take the time breathe in and feel peace and solitude right there with you – never to leave – and you won’t feel lonely.

As Nerburn goes onto say:

“Though this may sound mystical and abstract, the universe has an eternal hum that runs beyond our individual birth and death. It is a hum that is hard to hear through the louder and closer noise of our daily lives. .. It makes us part of something larger. In solitude alone do we become part of this great eternal sound.”

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6 thoughts on “Solitude and Loneliness

  1. Hi Pat,

    I’ve never heard this put quite this way before, but it’s true.

    Years ago I lived on my own. Many of my friends would ask if I was lonely. I wasn’t. I enjoyed the solitude. But in some crowded situations, I have felt lonely.

    Amazing how that works….

  2. Barbara – it’s so good to hear from you again. Thank you for your comment.

    Yes, solitude and loneliness appear to be similar but are worlds apart.

    Whether you’re soaking up peace in solitude or feeling despair with loneliness, it’s a reflection of what’s going on within. It doesn’t matter where you are.

    Enjoy catching your posts when I can. Wish I could do more.

    Thank you for your continued support. I always enjoy your feedback.

  3. I live alone now and there I have experienced a shift (that I am so greatful for) from loneliness to solitude. I didn’t know the word for it so thank you for this beautiful post that articulates how I feel as of late.

    The solitude brings a richness that I can’t get enough of
    Through my discovery of self – its essential especially now

    Beautiful quotes Pat!

  4. JEMi – the shift you’re talking about happens when we accept and surrender to what’s going on in our life right now.

    It’s not a giving up surrender or an acceptance where you’re your spirit has been broken. It’s an acceptance in what is at the present moment and after doing all you know to do turning it over to a Higher Source.

    That place is where we find peace, solitude, spiritual growth and healing.

    When we keep trying to fix things or holding on not wanting them to change is when we feel the despair and loneliness.

    It sounds like you’ve found yourself in this quiet place of solitude. What a wonderful thing to share.

    Thank you for your reflections and I look forward to having you stop back again to chat.

  5. Loneliness is missing someone or something that ego thinks you need. Solitude is knowing that you are enough. Loneliness comes from ego. Solitude comes from knowing Spirit.

  6. Patricia – you captured solitude and loneliness perfectly in just a few words.

    Perfect summation. That’s exactly what is happening when we’re lonely. We don’t even realize it as we’re so attached to our emotions and to the desire to want what we can’t have.

    Thank you for sharing those thoughts. I can see you’re picking up some things from Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”.


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