The Wonders of Solitude

The Wonders of Solitude

by Dale Salwak
     
 

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This newest addition to the popular Classic Wisdom Collection provides a soothing respite from the pressures of a madly active world. An eclectic assortment of thinkers from throughout the ages reflects on finding solitude in the home, with others, in the natural world and within the heart.

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This newest addition to the popular Classic Wisdom Collection provides a soothing respite from the pressures of a madly active world. An eclectic assortment of thinkers from throughout the ages reflects on finding solitude in the home, with others, in the natural world and within the heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608681341
Publisher:
New World Library
Publication date:
12/20/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
183 KB

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The Wonders of Solitude


By Dale Salwak

New World Library

Copyright © 1998 Dale Salwak
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60868-134-1



CHAPTER 1

A Noisy World

Nothing has changed the nature of man so much as the loss of silence. The invention of printing, technics, compulsory education — nothing has so altered man as this lack of relationship to silence, this fact that silence is no longer taken for granted, as something as natural as the sky above or the air we breathe. Man who has lost silence has not merely lost one human quality but his whole structure has been changed thereby.

— MAX PICARD
FRENCH PHILOSOPHER


The Industrial Revolution brought with it gadgets to use up our time and to fill our world with sounds that not only drown out the voice of God, but also destroy the silence which is the proper environment for the nurturing of Man's soul. Think about your own life. Take just one day of the week. If your home is typical, you get up in the morning feeling harried and hurried. You must wash, dress, have breakfast, and, if you have children, get them ready for school. Somehow, in all this hurry and confusion, you turn on the radio or television to get the morning news. There doesn't seem to be enough confusion and chaos in the home, so you let in the world's share of confusion and chaos to add to that already existing, and in addition, raise the noise level. We seem, in our time, to be afraid of silence. For, if we get into our cars to go to work, we are apt to immediately turn on the radio instead of enjoying a time of relative quiet.

— KARL PRUTER
AMERICAN BISHOP


Architects believe less and less in doors these days, so that houses are becoming like beehives, arches leading into chambers and more arches. It is lucky that Americans are still puritans in their habits. You can be alone in the bathroom.

— SALLY WEINRAUB
AMERICAN SOCIAL CRITIC


Whenever we have a little free time, most of us seek some form of amusement. We pick up a serious book, a novel, or a magazine. If we are in America we turn on the radio or the television, or we indulge in incessant talk. There is a constant demand to be amused, to be entertained, to be taken away from ourselves.... Very few of us ever walk in the fields and the woods, not talking or singing songs, but just walking quietly and observing things about us and within ourselves.

— J. KRISHNAMURTI
INDIAN PHILOSOPHER


If one sets aside time for a business engagement, a trip to the hairdresser, a social engagement, or a shopping expedition, that time is accepted as inviolable. But if one says: I cannot come because that is my hour to be alone, one is considered rude, egotistical or strange. What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it — like a secret vice!

— ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH
AMERICAN AUTHOR


We are a people either unused to being alone or actually afraid of it. We have for so long talked and eaten, argued and thought, sung and even read in groups, that we are at a loss how to manage our minds or our bodies alone.

— MARY ELLEN CHASE
AMERICAN PROFESSOR


No builder today seems to be concerned with the problem of preserving the quiet of the household. The walls of buildings are getting thinner all the time. Ceilings and certain types of new appliances often conduct sounds and noises much better than in the past. Some of our modern buildings are acoustical disasters. Noise pollution has become a major problem in the technological age. Each neighbor knows what the other neighbor does, and neighbors think through a multiplicity of auditory leaks.

— THOMAS MERTON
FRENCH-BORN TRAPPIST MONK


The Western tradition — our schools, social institutions, helping professionals, and all their training support systems, our churches and synagogues — have very little empathy for solitude. The "togetherness" banner has been strung over every social institution: families are taught they must do everything together, marriages are built on the foundation of constant time together (with no options for either spouse to spend time alone, as if time alone was a mark of a failing marriage), children are encouraged to socialize continually, having very little encouragement or practice in spending time alone, corporations (a set of systems I'm very familiar with) often are punitive with managers or lower level employees who want to spend time by themselves (lunches, coffee breaks, dinners out are all times to socialize with others) — our whole cultural set-up is geared to interactive time. Little wonder that when an individual starts to grow within himself, starts to develop his intuitive, transpersonal self, he may find it necessary to pull back, to learn how to be alone.

— MARSHA SINETAR
AMERICAN EDUCATOR


The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak.

— SPINOZA
DUTCH PHILOSOPHER


In short, every age has need of "the contemplative life," and ours is no exception to the rule.... The soul needs ... a chance for spreading its wings, for looking beyond itself, beyond the immediate environment, and for quiet inner growth....

— JAMES BISSETT PRATT
AMERICAN PHILOSOPHER


We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart ... and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together.... I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude.

— HELEN HAYES
AMERICAN ACTRESS


America is the noisiest country that ever existed. One is waked up in the morning not by the singing of the nightingale, but by the steel worker. It is surprising that the sound practical sense of the Americans does not reduce this intolerable noise. All art is based on exclusive and delicate sensibilities, and such continual turmoil must ultimately be destructive to the musical faculties.

— OSCAR WILDE
BRITISH NOVELIST


Boredom and ennui, a frantic search for diversion are the common reactions to an hour, or a day of quiet.... We have a compulsion to keep on the move. What keeps the tourist "on the go" is emptiness and incapacity, inability to fill a pause in the day's occupation with anything worth doing: justified fear of leisure time.

— WILLIAM MCNAMARA
AMERICAN PHILOSOPHER


Almost all of our woes come from not being capable of remaining in our rooms.

— BLAISE PASCAL
FRENCH MATHEMATICIAN, MORALIST


Nowadays most men live lives of noisy desperation.

— JAMES THURBER
AMERICAN HUMORIST


The great omission in American life is solitude ... that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incinerator of the spirit.

— MARYA MANNES
AMERICAN JOURNALIST, SOCIAL CRITIC


Where shall the word be found, where will the word Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence.

— T.S. ELIOT
BRITISH/AMERICAN POET


Solitude as Discovery

Finding the self

If there is a better cure for self-deception than solitude, it has yet to be discovered.

— E. HERMAN
AMERICAN THEOLOGIAN


You turn inward. There's nothing to distract you, so you begin to look at yourself.

— FRANK BIANCO, AMERICAN
JOURNALIST/PHOTOGRAPHER


I prize the privilege of being alone.

— CARL ROGERS
AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST


You need solitude if you are to fulfill your promises.

— FRANCES STELOFF
FOUNDER OF GOTHAM BOOK MART


We must, like a painter, take time to stand back from our work, to be still, and thus see what's what.... True repose is standing back to survey the activities that fill our days.

— WILLIAM MCNAMARA
AMERICAN PHILOSOPHER


In solitude one can achieve a good relationship with oneself.

— MAY SARTON
AMERICAN POET, NOVELIST, ESSAYIST


The goal of a healthy solitude is love: love and acceptance of ourselves as we are and where we are, and love and compassion for others.

— DOROTHY PAYNE
AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER


If a woman is to know herself, then periods of solitude should be courted, planned, and embraced.

— MARY KAY BLAKELY
AMERICAN HUMORIST


Before you can enjoy your solitude, you have to get to know yourself — who you are, what you like to do, what raises your spirits, what gives you a feeling of accomplishment and exhilaration.


— PHYLLIS HOBE
AMERICAN AUTHOR


The most important education you get is your own — the one you learn in solitude.

— ERICA JONG
AMERICAN SOCIAL CRITIC


Only in the oasis of silence can we drink deeply from our inner cup of wisdom.

— SUE PATTON THOELE
AMERICAN PSYCHOTHERAPIST


I love being by myself. And as I grow older, I love that more than anything else. There are so many things to think about and work out.

— GWENDOLYN BROOKS
POET LAUREATE OF ILLINOIS


In order to get to know yourself, a person needs to be alone with his thoughts now and then.

— RICHARD TRIUMPHO
AMERICAN AUTHOR


Avoid the reeking herd,
Shun the polluted flock,
Live like that stoic bird
The eagle of the rock.

— ELINOR WYLIE
AMERICAN NATURALIST


And at some time
in your life
trying to be good
may be to stop running
and take time ...
to be quiet
and discover who you are
and where you've been ...

— SISTER CORITA KENT
CARMELITE NUN


One lives and endures one's life with others, within matrices, but it is only alone, truly alone that one bursts apart, springs forth.

— MARIA ISABEL BARRENO
PORTUGUESE RESEARCHER IN HUMAN RELATIONS


Whatever those unacquainted with it may think, solitude and utter loneliness are far from being devoid of charm. Words cannot convey the almost voluptuous sweetness of the feelings experienced.... Mind and senses develop their sensibility in this contemplative life made up of continual observations and reflections. Does one become a visionary or, rather, is it not that one has been blind until then?

— ALEXANDRA DAVID-NEEL
FRENCH-BORN TRAVELER


The insight we gain from solitude has very little to do with the amount of time we spend alone. It has a lot more to do with the quality of time we spend with ourselves.

— JAN JOHNSON DRANTELL
AMERICAN COUNSELOR


What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.

— ELLEN BURSTYN
BROADWAY ACTRESS


The choice of solitude is not so much a rejection of community as a recognition that certain experiences and truths are so alien to ordinary consciousness that the individual must withdraw in order to experience them.

— CAROL P. CHRIST
AMERICAN PROFESSOR


Nothing strengthens the judgment and quickens the conscience like individual responsibility.... No matter how much women prefer to lean, to be protected and supported, nor how much men desire to have them do so, they must make the voyage of life alone, and for safety in an emergency must know the law of navigation.

— ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
AMERICAN POET


Being alone gives us the space to listen again to our inner rhythms, to embrace our inner selves.

— PATRICIA HOOLIHAN
AMERICAN WRITER ON SPIRITUAL CONCERNS


We can learn to trust ourselves by inquiring within. To practice doing this, sit quietly, close your eyes, and for a minute focus your attention on your breathing. Gently visualize your inner wisdom as a graceful butterfly. Admire her beauty, and encourage your butterfly to sit on your shoulder and whisper her wisdom in your ear. Be still and listen.

— SUE PATTON THOELE
AMERICAN PSYCHOTHERAPIST


There were many times in my life, until I was left alone, that I wished for solitude. I now find that I love solitude. I never had the blessed gift of being alone until the last of my loved ones was wrested from me. Now I can go sometimes for days and days without seeing anyone. I'm not entirely alone, because I listen to the radio and read the newspapers. I love to read. That is my greatest new luxury, having the time to read. And oh, the little things I find to do that make the days, as I say, much too short.

Solitude — walking alone, doing things alone — is the most blessed thing in the world. The mind relaxes and thoughts begin to flow and I think that I am beginning to find myself a little bit.

— HELEN HAYES
AMERICAN ACTRESS


There is a need to find and shake our own song, to stretch our limbs and shake them in a dance so wild that nothing can roost there, that stirs the yearning for solitary voyage.

— BARBARA LAZEAR ASCHER
AMERICAN LAWYER


Solitude is simply spending time connecting with ourselves. Solitude means we do it alone, spending time in reflection — perhaps talking to ourselves, writing a journal, meditating. When we practice solitude regularly over a period of time, we develop a deep and abiding connection with our self. We can use that connection to alleviate isolation — from ourselves and others.

— JAN JOHNSON DRANTELL
AMERICAN COUNSELOR


Whether living alone is adventure or hardship will depend entirely upon your attitude and your decisions. Become friends with yourself; learn to appreciate who you are and your unique gifts. Be patient with yourself and use your sense of humor to keep things in perspective.

— DOROTHY EDGERTON
AMERICAN AUTHOR


In motherhood, more than any other occupation, it is difficult to find time for ourselves. But because of the demands of motherhood, this time of renewing our quiet inner core is very important.... A time for regular exercise, a night out with friends, or taking a class are all ways to affirm who we are as individuals.

— PATRICIA HOOLIHAN
AMERICAN WRITER ON SPIRITUAL CONCERNS


Only those who learn how to live with solitude can come to know themselves and life. I go out there and walk and look at the trees and sky. I listen. I sit on a rock or a stump and say to myself, "Who are you, Sandburg? Where have you been, and where are you going?"

— CARL SANDBURG
AMERICAN POET


Self-renewal usually begins quietly. The lonely griever becomes a person with a confident solitude.... In contrast to loneliness, which mourns the loss, solitude is positive aloneness, a confident presence of self-suffering.

— FREDRIC M. HUDSON
AMERICAN LEADER IN ADULT DEVELOPMENT


In many societies, voluntary isolation from others is considered necessary for the completion of certain phases of personal growth. Adolescent males entering adulthood in certain tribal cultures are expected to wander alone in the forest, mountains, or desert for as long as several months at a time. During this period the solitary wanderer is instructed to communicate with the [divine], compose a song, or experience a magic dream. Those who return without their dream may be sent back into the mountains and told to return when they are successful.

— BARBARA POWELL
AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST


But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships.

— ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH
AMERICAN AUTHOR


Learn to get in touch with silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences; all events are blessings given to us to learn from.

— ELISABETH KÜBLER-ROSS
SWISS/AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIST


Alone, but not lonely, I postulate philosophies, explore my soul, and, in the modesty of solitude, expose my love and angers, wishes and disappointments. I examine each, and put it in its place. Alone, I redefine my appreciation of the people with whom I live.

— JOAN MILLS
AMERICAN AUTHOR


Living alone, though it may not be the state you ultimately desire for yourself, affords an unparalleled opportunity to know yourself, to be yourself, and to develop yourself as a unique and interesting individual.

— PHYLLIS HOBE
AMERICAN AUTHOR


The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. Only he who listens can speak.

— DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD
SWEDISH STATESMAN


In these hours and days of dual solitude on the river we hope to discover something quite different, to renew our affection for ourselves and the human kind in general by a temporary, legal separation from the mass. And in what other way is it possible for those not saints?

— EDWARD ABBEY
AMERICAN FOREST RANGER


O Solitude, the soul's best friend,
That man acquainted with himself dost make.

— CHARLES COTTON
BRITISH POET


Those who aspire to the state of self-discipline should seek the Self in inner solitude through meditation, controlling body and mind, free from expectations and attachment to material possessions.

— BHAGAVAD GITA


Solitude is an unending colloquy between you and yourself and such persons as inhabit your memory or are called forth by your imagination. It is painful to have this colloquy interrupted by the voices of real people. "Be still, be still," you want to say to them. "I can't hear what's being said."

— JESSAMYN WEST
AMERICAN ESSAYIST


Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self.

— HENRI J.M. NOUWEN
ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Wonders of Solitude by Dale Salwak. Copyright © 1998 Dale Salwak. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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