Solitude & Loneliness - many times we tend use these words interchangeably. However, there is a huge difference between two states of the same matter - that is being alone.
Best thing I heard was - solitude is the joy of being alone. Loneliness is the pain of being alone. Nothing I can think of conveys the difference between solitude and loneliness better than this.
Another point is - we tend to confuse solitude as the state we are in just because we are alone and not in pain. Since we are not in pain while being alone, it can not be loneliness. So, it has to be solitude. Thus goes our logic. However, real solitude is when you are able to reach your inner-self. When you emerge out of it, you should have some new insight that would help you better yourself.
I am no expert but only way I can simulate something close to solitude is by being alone and more importantly by doing absolutely nothing. OK, thinking apart. If you can stop thinking too, bonus to you. First thing to create solitude is to shut ourselves to all kinds of external stimuli. Shut down TV, radio, internet, magazines etc. and try to spend a couple of hours on a comfortable chair doing nothing. Try it and you find it so hard. Within minutes, your hands stretch to some near by book or remote or your laptop or radio or phone. Even if we start off with half hour, that is a challenge to go for.
Loneliness is artificial. It is a sense of being lost, being disconnected. I hope nobody ever have to go through that. Loneliness is most often self inflicted. In this modern world, we have become so paranoid, we hesitate to welcome people and experiences into our life thinking that something or somebody may exploit us. No wonder we continue to build walls around us and religiously make it higher and higher everyday that let alone people reaching out to us. They don't even know we exist. If loneliness is the result of such lifestyle, you need to first get out and smell the roses before trying to get into solitude. Pick up the phone, call people. Reach out to friends. Send e-mails. In one or the other way, reconnect with whatever you are missing. You alone have got yourself into that state and you alone can get yourself out of it. There are tonnes of things to help you. Most likely you will reach out equally desperate lonely souls and you will feel better. After you have reconnected back, you can follow some steps to get those golden few moments of solitude.
Without consciously creating moments of solitude, we will probably skimming the surface of life's ocean. As they say, surface swimmer gets nothing except salt water. Only deep divers emerge out with pearls hidden deep under. Choice is yours - pearls or salty water from surface level swimming.
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