Finding time daily for moments of solitude helps nurture inner peace, relaxation and calm. Taking time out to check within and sense your body helps raise your present moment awareness. You can use the moment of solitude to heighten your senses or meditate, or you can simply relax and reduce your incessant thinking.
The above mind map summarises my observations of practicing ten minutes solitude. This post explains how and there is also a ten point summary at the end of the post.
Having found a quiet place to practice, I start by noticing and observing firstly my surroundings without labelling or analysis, then my body by sensing the life within and then noticing my thoughts so that I become grounded in the moment. To recap; notice surroundings, sense body, observe thoughts. I become aware of my breathing. Sensing upper chest breathing, I rectify to breath more deeply and slower. By deepening the breathing I feel more relaxed, become more aware of my body and sense various parts of my body in turn.
Senses heightened I am aware of a ticking watch, creaky floorboards, the hum of a computer, gurgling in a radiator, voices in the distance, movement, other noises and also silence beneath and between sounds. Checking back with the body, I am aware of a tickle in the throat and a resultant cough, stomach noises, blinking, smiling, itches and scratching, fidgeting and importantly, the “buzz” of life within. I don’t fight the sensations simply notice and allow them to come and go.
I sense the temperature, both hot and cold, the fluctuations and the smell of fresh air through an open window. I can detect heat inside my body in contrast to coolness on my skin.
I observe my thoughts, from memory, to projections and vitally the gaps – the spaces between my thoughts, and the anticipation of my next thoughts.
Alternating between the noting of surroundings, body and thoughts I simply raise my awareness without focusing solely on one area, observing everything at once and yet nothing exclusively. The combination raises my awareness of the moment and relaxes my mind and body. Grounded or anchored effortlessly I become one with the moment, surrender to the noises and connect with peace both within and without. The quieter I become the quieter my mind becomes.
The process is straightforward and quite simple to explore. After practice, you can check within during the day, whilst active or inactive. Ideal times to practice a moment of solitude are first thing in the morning on waking (you could wake earlier if necessary) and/or last thing at night prior to sleeping. These times tend to be quieter which makes the process easier if new to you.
10 point summary:
1. Notice surroundings
2. Check breathing
3. Note body
4. Heighten senses
5. Notice the small detail within and without
6. Notice temperatures and noises
7. Observe thinking and gaps between thoughts
8. Alternate awareness of body, thought and surroundings
9. Combine awareness of body, thought and surroundings
10. Relax, surrender to the moment and sense the peace within and without
3 point reminder: