.The Journey home to the Heart.

(Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

“Solitude,may rest from responsibilities, and peace of mind, will do you more good than the atmosphere of the studio and the conversations which, generally speaking, are a waste of time.” – Louise Bourgeois

The move to Austria is done and another big chapter in my life began. For me, after all this stress, it is important to spend time alone and to reflect on what just happened. I read an article a while ago that artists throughout time have pontificated about the benefits of spending time alone as well as the lonely patience required to make art. I believe it is important for anyone to spend some quality time alone because it simply feels good and our batteries are recharged. Yet despite the long-praised benefits of alone-time on our practice and creativity, the right sort of solitude can seem elusive to many.

Some people forgot how to be alone and spend time with themselves. Sara Maitland writes in How to be Alone, “How have we arrived, in the relatively prosperous developed world, at least, at a cultural moment which values autonomy, personal freedom, fulfilment and human rights, and above all individualism, more highly than they have ever been valued before in human history, but at the same time these autonomous, free, self-fulfilling individuals are terrified of being alone with themselves?”

What do you associate with being alone? Many times we mistake being alone with doing nothing; which is actually totally fine, too. The problem is that we allow our work, social and family schedule to zap our alone-time. Endless opportunities for distractions mean that when we are alone, we are not truly alone – we have the world at our fingertips, and opportunities to compare ourselves and our work with each scroll we take through our social media newsfeed.

“I think we live in a world where we overburden ourselves not just with work commitments but social and family commitments, and that level of duty and obligation, and we completely forget to send time on our own and ourselves.” – Jull Stark

So, how do each of us go about finding solitude in our day to day lives? I did a little bit of soul-searching to find the benefits in spending time alone, the challenges that can be faced and how things can be prioritized. I am basically musing on the importance of alone time and how to secure it.

Solitude Cycles. Loneliness is a sign that you are in desparate need of yourself. I love spending time with friends, my partner, my family but I really need to be by myself, too. Time alone basically means to me to have peace and quiet to write. I will have really productive phases where I stay up all night. It seems a bit mysterious, the coming and going of it, but in general, I tend to want to be alone a lot. I need that alone time to work, think about things, do research or read up on things that are interesting to me (Süddeutsche Zeitung in the morning, Georg).

Scheduling Alone Time. I need time to dream, relax and create. Jill Stark says it best, “Time for myself is one thing that I factor into my week as much as I can. Even though I live on my own and I could say I always have time on my own, it’s a very different thing to put it in the diary as you would if you were meeting a friend or going on a date and nothing gets in the way and you don’t cancel on yourself.”

Acknowledge Distractions. My friend(s) call(s) me to go out for Pizza/Pho in the evening? Do I really have to get X, Y, and Z done today? If yes, stay in and work! If not, go out and have fun. Life is too short. Usually, I can block the world out easily; a good pair of headphones helps in most cases. I need to be alone to allow all of my daydreaming to create new works. I do think it is essential to discuss ideas with others and that can often lead to surprising outcomes, but the intimate core of my work comes from quiet times at my desk. Sometimes just sitting and staring at what is around my living room leads to the most exciting new connections.

The importance of doing nothing. Sometimes I literally do nothing but stare at the sky. Or I lay in a hammock all afternoon, enjoying the sun, reading a book. Can you do this? How does it feel? Are you comfortable? “I know this sounds really alien to us in this world where we are constantly distracted, but actually just sitting and doing nothing can be really helpful – and literally nothing, not reading a book; just sitting and thinking and letting whatever comes into your head.” – Jill Stark

One Task at a Time. I have an almost 6-year-old son who requires quite some attention, which is fine. But at the same time, I need alone time, too to stay sane, socialize, write, work, and meet with friends. But, one thing at a time because I believe it is healthy and important for the brain not to be too distracted and overwhelmed which easily leads to stress.

Small habits can protect alone time. I love my morning routine which I try to protect. I will have a cup of black coffee and read a book or newspaper. Uninterrupted. In the evening when I stay in: having a bath, a glass of red wine, soft lighting in my office, listening to music and wearing a Kimono just because. As soon as my son is in bed, I write, read and do all my intellectual stuff. And reflect. And love because sometimes “On days like this, I need you to run your fingers through my hair and speak softly.” – Rupi Kaur

Pausing gives me the space to make decisions. Whenever my brain is overloaded and I try to solve all my life’s problems at once I pause. At that moment it may feel counter-intuitive to have a break because we may just want to push through as fast as possible. But why? Just get an ice-cream instead (I recommend Chocolate and Cookie). This is quick happiness while putting things to the side, changing the scenery and actually looking after yourself.

.Stay Happy – Stay Healthy.

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