"Solitude is the foundation for meditation, prayer, and many other disciplines that lead to a healthy faith life. Learn to practice solitude, and you'll find yourself better in tune with God, yourself, and others.

• "A first step in practicing solitude is learning to take advantage of 'mini retreats' or 'little solitudes' that comprise our days. Ideally, these moments of solitude will also be silent, such as when you first wake up or while you sip your coffee before work. More likely, they'll include the noise of everyday life as you make your way through traffic or ride in an elevator or wait on hold for someone on the other end of the phone. The point is to make the most out of these moments by quieting the noise within yourself and being present to the here and now rather than becoming impatient or getting lost in to-do lists and worries.

• "Additional steps in practicing solitude include setting aside a small block of time each day to rest and recharge, limiting how much you speak (try to go an entire day without speaking!), and designating a quiet place (inside or outside your home) and a time when you can retreat there for a regular period of solitude and silence. One of the hardest things about the practice of solitude is to do nothing except be still and listen. Practice is the key.

• "To take your practice of solitude further, try to get away for a few half- or full-day periods each year. Or, if possible, go on a retreat for two days or more. Take little more with you than a change of clothes, a Bible, and a journal. Use this time to reevaluate where you are in life: Where do you want to be in three years? In five years? In seven years?"