Never before in the history of the world have we been more connected to one another. Yet research suggests that never before have we been more lonely and discontent.
Contrary to common knowledge, however, loneliness and lack are not satiated by surrounding ourselves with more people, by piling up Facebook friends, or even by having an intimate relationship. There is no recipe for individual contentment other than an engaged relationship with one’s self. And that cannot be developed without learning how to be alone well.
This e-course, "A Field Guide to Solitude," shows you how to embrace solitude, whether you just occasionally find yourself alone, deliberately take some time to be alone, or live alone (which research also suggests is happening at an unprecedented rate). It is not about renouncing the world. Rather, it is about having a deeper engagement with the world by finding time to be on your own in such a way that it brings you ever closer to wholeness, wisdom, and well-being.
"We are pulled in so many directions and distracted by so many things that we are skipping across life like a flat stone over water, never slowing down and going deep to see what’s there — our better, genuine self," says James Kullander, who created this online retreat. "Suddenly, it seems, everything is important all the time except ourselves and what matters to us. The result is that we are lonely for ourselves; we are lacking a real connection to what's truly meaningful to us. Only when we find that — on our own — will we begin to alleviate our isolation from ourselves and others."
During the course, you will discover ways to tap the experience of solitude for the many opportunities it offers you, including self-realization, creative nurturing, psychological healing, independent travel, improved relationships, attunement to the natural world, coping with aging and death, and spiritual exploration, all of which are vital to a meaningful life. You will also learn about the difference between solitude and loneliness and about some of the perils we face when we find ourselves alone.
Passages from ancient and contemporary writers, artists, philosophers, and spiritual sages who have sought solitude for self-fulfillment and for making their own unique contributions to the world are woven into Kullander’s own insights, which he has garnered from living alone for nearly two decades, traveling alone more often than not, and attending solitary, silent retreats at Christian and Buddhist monasteries for the past 30 years.
The e-course consists of:
- 12 emails with reflections by James Kullander on the many ways solitude is beneficial to our personal and spiritual growth.
- Suggested practices, journal prompts, creative projects, and discussion questions to help you find new insights about the pleasures and perils of solitude.
James Kullander, MDiv, is a writer, online program content manager, and program development consultant for Omega and other organizations. He has led or co-led four other S&P e-courses, all of them warmly received.
(4 CEHs for Chaplains available.)
(choose your own start date and frequency)