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A Mindful Proposal: Can You Handle 5 Minutes of Solitude?

sunsetIn a past article, journalist Andrea Chalupa made a Mindful Proposal for everyone to make a plan to take out 24 hours in solitude. She quotes her father, Dr. Leo Chalupa, saying that “A national day of absolute solitude would do more to improve the brains of all Americans than any other one-day program.” This might sound scary to some and intriguing to others, but have no fear, this is not going to happen. But what can happen?

Thomas Merton said, “Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.”

We are in an age where there is no solitude at all and if there were any we’d grab for our phones to make sure there wasn’t any. Whether you’re in the camp who believes it our not, the pace at which we live our lives and the amount of things we try to pay attention to at once are major recipes for stress, anxiety, depression and addictive behaviors.

Spending time in solitude is actually a very healthy thing to do, it’s giving us an opportunity to balance the busyness. It’s not only a mindful act, but a self-compassionate act too. Furthermore, the more balanced you are, the better you’ll rub off on others, so maybe consider it’s something that can might even make the world a a little bit better.

So what if we took her proposal to heart, but scaled it back a bit?

How about starting with five minutes of solitude per day? Maybe we can even scale it to two sessions of five minutes a day at some point?

Why even consider this?

I conducted a national research study in 2006 that found that taking this time out even once a day had significant effects on well-being and stress. I wrote the steps to cultivate these moments in an earlier blog post.

Realistically, 24 hours of solitude sounds overwhelming to most…and when something is overwhelming we don’t do it. For example, if we both sat at the bottom of Mount Everest and I said, “Ok, let’s do it,” most people wouldn’t even begin. However, if we sat at the bottom of a 5 minute hike up and you knew that 5 minutes hike in that moment would be good for your stress and well-being, you might have a bit more motivation to do it.

There are many free short guided practices on the web.

So here is my Mindful Proposal: Can You Handle 5 Minutes a Day of Solitude or maybe a short guided practice?

Just a few minutes…give it a shot and let us know what you notice.

As always, please share your thoughts, experiences and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

A Mindful Proposal: Can You Handle 5 Minutes of Solitude?

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.

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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2015). A Mindful Proposal: Can You Handle 5 Minutes of Solitude?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Aug 2015
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