When was the last time you sat alone in silence?
From smartphones to 24-hour news cycles, we are more connected than ever. But around the globe, people are seeking new ways to reconnect with themselves.
In South Korea, some overworked residents are trading in their cellphones for a chance to spend a day or two in a 54-square-foot prison cell, with nothing but with a tea set, a yoga mat, a notebook, and the promise of silence.
It may seem odd to not only consent to being locked in prison but to pay for it. But the lure of solitude isn’t unique to those in South Korea. In the United States, a cottage industry of tiny homes in the wilderness is thriving, as overstimulated Americans seek a chance to disconnect. In Japan, “forest bathers” have sought sensory vacations since the 1980s.
These seekers of solitude are in good company. Silicon Valley consultant Julia Lipton celebrated her 29th birthday with 10 days of silent meditation in a Buddhist monastery. Novelist Cheryl Strayed’s personal and physical journey through 1,100 miles of solitude along the Pacific Crest Trail formed the basis of the bestselling memoir and film “Wild.”
Extreme pursuits of silence and solitude can indeed be transformative. But so can smaller acts of reflection, whether you call it mindfulness, meditation, or prayer. All it takes is a few moments to value yourself.
Now on to our five stories for today, which include three distinct examinations of leadership – in global politics, in the US Congress, and in British Parliament.