Watching Netflix in bed with the lights off is not the kind of meaningful solitude that rejuvenates and enlightens. For this, you need to pull yourself out of your normal environment. And doing this solo is an ideal way to relax and disconnect with technology, people and city life in general.
Giving yourself some ‘me’ vacation time will have you feeling calmer, thinking clearer and provide a better understanding of who you are on your return. Here are some exciting and holistically rewarding solitary escape ideas and places for you to try and visit.
Dive into the Present
Diving is already thought of as a type of meditation because it not only evokes a sense of peace, but also makes you present to your surroundings and focus on your breathing. So why not take this a step further and do some underwater yoga too? This is what Dr Mahendra Shah, president and director of Zen Resort Bali and Zen Dive Bali, had in mind when he created The Zen Harmony Diving, which combines yoga and diving.
“Diving is pure meditation in motion with literally no conscious effort, and gliding in the underwater world also enables gentle physical, mental and spiritual exercise with little risk of physical injury,” Dr Shah says. He adds that some people even find it easier to master yoga and meditation while diving. Also the benefits are the same as if practised on land such as helping to reduce stress, clear the mind and feel good.
He recommends doing simple yoga positions underwater such as child pose, cat pose and downward dog. “The oceans cover two-thirds of our beautiful planet, and diving opens a door to all these beauties hidden below the shimmering blue surface,” he says. “While submersed in it, our mind unwinds and we finally comprehend, in a very natural and easy way, the power of now.”
Follow the Footsteps of Monks
The easiest and one of the most rewarding ways to escape is by foot. So something like a hiking adventure can be had just about anywhere. “Deciding to take off by yourself can be really freeing, since there’s no compromising or planning with another person,” says Matt Holmes founder and president of Boundless Journeys, which organises adventures around the world including Asia. “You decide where and when – be a little selfish and let your adventure begin on your terms.”
Holmes says the most tranquil place he’s gone ‘walkabout’ is Bhutan for its beautiful scenery, pure culture and friendly people. Plus it’s very safe especially when travelling alone. “There are beautiful river valley, heavily forested hillsides, and dramatic mountains, with cliffside temples and monasteries sprinkled throughout,” he describes. “The local paths between these monasteries, and between local villages, make excellent hiking routes.” So why not literally follow the footsteps of monks? No doubt it will help you along the path to enlightenment.
Contemplate in Frozen Silence
Marcus Wikström, fishing advisor for The Finnish Federation for Recreational Fishing, says there are many different kinds of ice fisherman. They include the highly competitive ones, like he used to be, who run across vast stretches of ice, drill hundreds of holes and return with rucksacks full of fish. “So, there are different things that bring us out onto the ice, but I’d say the bottom thing is the tickling not-knowing-what´s-down-there sense, combined with a frozen and silent nature,” he reflects.
Enjoying the serenity, scenery and solitude is a big draw for many ice fishing enthusiasts. It is likened to meditation for its simplicity, stillness, and spirituality due to its connection nature. “The landscape will often provide you with a great background to project your thoughts,” says Wikström. “And maybe you’ll see an eagle or a fox, something to remember the day by, even if the catch wasn’t great.” Finland, known as ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes’, where the Finns have a love affair with ice fishing, is a perfect destination for it. Just don’t expect the locals to share their secret spots, it’s up to you to find your own.
Paddle Along Calm Waters
Tired of tourists, crowds or just covering the same holiday ground as everyone else? Instead, imagine watching the scenery of some exotic location unfold around you as you glide across glassy calm water by kayak. Not only will kayaking provide you with a new perspective of a place but doing it alone will increase your levels of self-sufficiency, self-awareness and self-confidence. “Sitting quietly observing a humpback blow a short distance away refreshes the spirit and watching an orca slice the water under you is a true adrenalin fix,” says Al Bakker, who is the manager of Southern Sea Ventures.
Experiencing the marine environment at water level self-propelled in your own craft is deeply satisfying. “Powering along with your own rhythm lets you feel the moment, is soothing and allows the distractions of work and the city fade away,” adds Bakker, who has been paddling in new locations for more than 30 years. “Crossing a bay in quiet conditions with a slow, languorous swell rolling underneath you lets you feel part of the water.” His company has kayaking trips around the globe, and a highlight is the islands of Melanesia, which span from Papua New Guinea to Fiji. Its fringing reefs, tropical jungles and cultural diversity make it an excellent spot to explore on your next big solo ‘time out’ trip.