Aware I Am Alone: Intersections of Solitude and Mindfulness

Richard Cleveland



This paper explores the relationship between solitude and mindfulness. Parallels between the two constructs exist, allowing them to complement each other in furthering the well-being of individuals and communities. Three perspectives through which mindfulness may assist in forming foundational understandings of solitude are presented; these comprise Theoretical, Practice, and Research. The Theoretical lens provides introductory understandings of both solitude and mindfulness. On this basis, integral parallels between the two constructs are outlined. Next, Practice reviews solitude that is fostered through mindfulness practices. Further, additional models for recognising solitude as a part of mindfulness are proposed. Finally, Research summarises a current project that uses biophysical data to investigate mindfulness experienced both alone and together.


mindfulness; solitude

Full Text:



Akrivou, K., Bourantas, D., Mo, S. & Papalois, E. (2011). The sound of silence – A space for morality? The role of solitude for ethical decision making. Journal of Business Ethics, 102(1), 119-133.

BBC Loneliness Experiment. (n.d.). Summary of results. The BBC Loneliness Experiment. Retrieved 2 April 2019, from bbc-loneliness-experiment/

Burton, N. (5 November 2017). The joy of solitude: Loneliness as a subjective state of mind. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Carmody, J., Reed, G., Kristeller, J. & Merriam, P. (2008). Mindfulness, spirituality, and health-related symptoms. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 64(4), 393-403. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.06.015

Carson, S., Shih, M. & Langer, E. (2001). Sit still and pay attention?. Journal of Adult Development, 8(3), 183-188. doi:10.1023/A:1009594324594.

Chan, L. (2016). Rethinking solitude in schools: How silence and solitude can benefit students and enhance creativity. Research paper submitted for Master of Teaching, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. Retrieved from

Chiesa, A. & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593-600.

Cleveland, R. (2016). Mindfulness in K-12 education: School Counselor Connections. In Ideas and research you can use: VISTAS, Fall 2016. American Counseling Association.

Cleveland, R. (2018a). Extending Tobin’s mindfulness in education. Cultural Studies of Science Education. DOI: 10.1007/s11422-018-9899-4

Cleveland, R. (2018b). Evaluating and infusing participants’ stress levels in dynamic training. 2018 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference, National Defense Association. Published conference paper.

Coplan, R. J., Ooi, L. L. & Nocita, G. (2015). When one is company and two is a crowd: Why some children prefer solitude. Child Development Perspectives, 9(3), 133-137. DOI: 10.1111/cdep.12131

Dennison, S. T. (2011). Interdisciplinary role play between social work and theater students. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 31(4), 415-430. DOI: 10.1080/08841233.2011.5 97670

Dunning, D. L., Griffiths, K., Kuyken, W., Crane, C., Foulkes, L., Parker, J. & Dalgleish, T. (2019). Research Review: The effects of mindfulness-based interventions on cognition and mental health in children and adolescents – a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, (3), 244. p.12980

Gehart, D. R. & McCollum, E. E. (2007). Engaging suffering: Towards a mindful re-visioning of family therapy practice. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33(2), 214-226.

Goldberg, S. B., Tucker, R. P., Greene, P. A., Davidson, R. J., Wampold, B. E., Kearney, D. J. & Simpson, T. L. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions for psychiatric disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 59, 52–60.

Jackson, E. (2016). Alone and together with myself: How do we experience solitude? Existential Analysis: Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis, 27(2), 406-418.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2005). Coming to our senses: Healing ourselves and the world through mindfulness. New York, NY: Hyperion.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2015). Mindfulness has huge health potential – but McMindfulness is no panacea. The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2019, from m/commentisfree/2015/oct/20/mindfulness-mental-health-potential-benefits-uk

Koltz, R. L. (2015). Foundational counseling skills: A manual for beginning counselors. Bozeman, MT: Peaks Press.

Langer, E. (2009). Mindfulness versus positive evaluation. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder, S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 279–293). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Langer, E. J. & Moldoveanu, M. (2000). The construct of mindfulness. Journal of Social Issues, 56(1), 1–9. doi:10.1111/0022-4537.00148

Long, C. R. & Averill, J. R. (2003). Solitude: An exploration of benefits of being alone. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 33(1), 21. doi: 10.1111/1468-5914.00204

McCown, D., Reibel, D. & Micozzi, M. S. (2011). Teaching mindfulness: A practical guide for clinicians and educators. New York, NY: Springer.

Nouwen, H. J. M. (1978). Solitude and community. Worship, 52(1), 13-23.

Osborn, C. J., West, E. M. & Nance, W. Z. (2017). Experiences of counselors-as-clients in counselor education. Counselor Education & Supervision, 56(2), 112-129. DOI: 10.1002/ceas.12066

Pauly, T., Lay, J. C., Nater, U. M., Scott, S. B. & Hoppmann, C. A. (2017). How we experience being alone: Age differences in affective and biological correlates of momentary solitude. Gerontology, 63(1), 55-66. DOI: 10.1159/000450608

Pirson, M. A., Langer, E. & Zilcha, S. (2018). Enabling a socio-cognitive perspective of mindfulness: The development and validation of the Langer Mindfulness Scale. Journal of Adult Development, 25(3), 168-185. DOI: 10.1007/s10804-018-9282-4

Psychology Today (February 2019). Advertising Media Kit 2019. Psychology Today. Retrieved 2 April 2019 from

Rodriguez, J. R., Lopez, A. B., Escolano, A. F., Garcia-Grau, E., Garcia, C. S., Fort, G. B., Lluch, T. & Pros, M. A. (2018). Peer counseling versus role-playing: Two training methods of therapeutic skills in clinical psychology. Psicothema, 30(1), 21-26. DOI: 10.7334/psicothema2016.286

Salmon, P. & Matarese, S. (2013). Mindfulness meditation: Seeking solitude in community. In Coplan, R. J. & Bowker, J. C. (eds.), The handbook of solitude: Psychological perspectives on social isolation, social withdrawal, and being alone (335-350). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. 1118427378.ch19

Stern, J. (2015). Soul-searching and re-searching: Action philosophy alone. Educational Action Research, 23(1), 104-115. doi: 10.1080/09650792.2014.994015

Tadlock-Marlo, R. L. (2011). Making minds matter: Infusing mindfulness into school counseling. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 6(3), 220-233.

Taylor, V. F. (2018). Afraid of the deep: Reflections and analysis of a role-play exercise gone wrong. Journal of Management Education, 42(6), 772-782. DOI: 10.1177/105256291 8802875

Thich Nhat Hanh. (2008). The miracle of mindfulness: The classic guide to meditation by the world’s most revered master. London: Rider.

Tobin, K. (2018). Mindfulness in education. Learning: Research and Practice, 4(1), 112-125. doi:10.1080/23735082.2018.1435039

Villanueva, I., Raikes, A., Ruben, N., Schaefer, S. & Gunther, J. (2014). The use of physiological tools to identify changes in affective responses for graduate students recently admitted into a scientific discipline. 2014 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) Proceedings, 1. doi:10.1109/FIE.2014.7044316

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM

Partnerzy platformy czasopism