An opportunity for us to experience solitude

According to some of my contacts, more and more people are being sent to quarantine facilities due to having close contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases.  To many people, it is a new experience that one needs to be alone in a hotel or camp room for 14 days.  As a resident in this metropolitan city, most of us have contacts with lots of people everyday, our family members, friends, colleagues, neighbours, restaurant waiters, or shop assistants, etc.  It is out of our imagination that what will happen to us if we are forced to be isolated for two weeks.  It may induce the anxiety for facing our loneliness because of the isolation.   How can we face this inevitable isolation with peace?

In psychology literature, the capacity for a person to be alone is an aspect of one’s emotional maturity.  For a child, sense of security is developed by the trust in the availability of the attachment figure, usually the mother, in the face of his or her emotional disturbance.  If trust is not developed, the child has no confidence that the separated attachment figure will return.  This contributes to separation anxiety of the child.  When the attachment figure repeatedly being available as the child needs him or her, the child gradually becomes able to tolerate longer period of separation from the attachment figure without anxiety.  When the child developed inner security from the attachment figure, he or she gradually develops the capacity to be alone.  In this condition, the attachment figure becomes part of the child’s inner world, so that the child can still rely on the figure even he or she is not physically present.  In fact, the capacity for an adult to be alone is closely related to one’s childhood experience of being alone with the internal presence of the attachment figure.

For an adult, the capacity to be alone enables us to get in touch with our inner world.  As a resident of a metropolitan city, we are busily engaged in different kinds of activities everyday, including work, study, socialising, or entertainment.  When we are being alone, we also engaged ourselves with our electronic devices.  It is difficult for us not to scrolling our mobile phone when we are idled.  We indulged ourselves with Netflix and YouTube when we have leisure time.  For people who needed to be sent to the quarantine facilities, it is an opportunity for them to experience solitude.  With the capacity to be alone, this is a great opportunity for us to engage in self-discovery and self-realisation.  We can have a chance to become more aware of our inner needs, feelings and impulses.

With the help of the technology, we are able to stay in touch with our loved ones even when we are isolated in the quarantine hotel or camp room.  When we know we are not psychologically isolated from our loved ones, we have the capacity to be alone and explore our inner world.  In this opportunity, we can get in touch with our deepest inner feelings and thoughts with mindfulness meditation or mindful yoga.  With this inner exploration, we become closer to our inner being and able to engage in deep self-reflection.  Throughout the quarantine, we can plan a leisurely daily routine including leisure activities (such as watching Netflix or YouTube), reading, exercising, journaling, meditation, as well as connecting with our loved ones.  We can also plan to accomplish some tasks that are in our pending list, such as writing a book or connecting with our old friends through the Internet.  As our connection with the outside world is not closed off due to the technology, we can also enjoy our solitude with peace as we know we are still connected with our loved ones. 

It is uncertain that whether we may need to be sent to the quarantine facilities one day.  With psychological preparation on being able to experience solitude, we can have a precious experience for self-discovery and self-realisation with curiosity and peace.

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