During the Season of Lent, our weekly devotional will feature a personal spiritual discipline for you to try engaging. This week’s discipline is Solitude

Our first three weeks of disciplines were what are known as “inward” disciplines – things we do in our individual relationships with God. For the next two weeks, we will be trying outward disciplines – things we do in relationship to others as a result of our relationship with God.

It may seem counterintuitive for Solitude to be an outward discipline, rather than an inward one. However, we can only practice solitude if there are other people from whom to be separate. It is an outward choice to set ourselves apart from others for a time. We can practice inward disciplines during our time of solitude, but we do not have to.

Why would we practice solitude?

As with any other discipline, the answers to this question will vary, but at its heart the discipline of solitude is about recognizing that we relate best to others when we take the time to know ourselves. The stories of Jesus in the New Testament are frequently punctuated by times when he chose to withdraw and be by himself for a while, not just when he needed to pray, but when he simply needed to be alone.

Solitude offers us many benefits. The chance to regroup. To reconnect with ourselves. To assess our own energy levels and do what we need to restore them. To think about the ways we relate to others, and commit to doing a better job of it in the future.

Set apart some time to be alone this week. Fully alone. That includes disconnecting from your digital world, and turning off your cell phone (or, at the very least, putting it in an “emergency only” setting). It means no input from others, including things like books and music. Spend time in solitude and silence, and consider what you need to do in order to best engage the world around you when you reconnect. This may be the hardest discipline we engage this season, but if you do it, you will likely find that you want to do it again.

What did you discover during your time of solitude?