"In solitude it is just as important to tend to your physical needs as it is to tend to your intellectual and emotional needs. It is especially important to remember that your physical well-being is inextricably intertwined with your emotional well-being. The depression and anxiety so often associated with loneliness are always felt physically in different heart and respiratory patterns or in changed levels of activity that leave you feeling either sluggish or overtired.
"Sometimes your feelings originate not in your situation but in a change of activity level itself. For example, for some reason related or not to your solitude, you may choose to be less active than usual; as a result, you will begin to feel sluggish. Because you feel sluggish, you may start to think that you are becoming depressed — all because you failed to attend to your physical needs in the first place.
"Physical well-being is a prime source of joy in solitude. As you look inward in solitude, you will discover an expanded sensuality, and, happily, you will have the time and energy to explore it. Discovering and developing your sensuality can become not only an enormous pleasure, but an important source of centering and well-being.
"Unfortunately, commonly approved notions of sensuality, like so many aspects of our culture, tend to focus on relationships. In America today, sensuality implies sexuality. Among all possible sensualities, sexuality is the type that is most often touted in the media. In the age of the velvet mouth, the glistening body, and the phallic lipstick, sex is a sensuality that sells. Our society promotes it as a major tool of advertising, movies, television, and magazines; as the central issue in human relationships; and even as a human rights focus. We place relatively little value on the broader experiences of sensuality — the use of our eyes, ears, and other sensory organs for the pursuit of pleasures not associated with sex.
"Of course, being in sex is wonderful. Great, intense sex with a great, intensely sexy person is, yes! great and intense and sexy. But all our emphasis on sexuality can result in a serious obstacle for anyone who is pursuing positive solitude. It often becomes a loneliness trap. When you think of sensuality primarily in terms of sexuality, you buy into the belief that you need someone else around to fulfill your sensual needs. By focusing on sexuality, you are ignoring all the other wonderful sensualities that your mind/body offers to you. You severely limit yourself.
"Each of your senses has something wonderful to offer. Sight gives you the delight of colors, shapes, nature, the human body, clothing, architecture, and art. Hearing offers birds and oceans and music. Smell brings you lilacs, perfume, and spring air. Taste introduces chocolate, potato chips, and spices. Through touch you experience warmth, fur, and velvet. Through your kinesthetic sense you take pleasure in walking and swimming and dancing.
"Yet for many of us, sensuality is a mere acquaintance, rather than a close friend. After all, our time is limited. We work hard. Americans in the latter part of the twentieth century are working more hours than they did twenty years ago. It is obvious why sensuality came more naturally in our youth — we had more time for it! We become tired, and out of habit and convenience we fill our lives with pastimes that are more active than sensual. Yet sensuality is always central to a full life. You should find time for it no matter what your age. You must actively pursue it by discovering environments that engage all your different senses."