Isolation? Or Solitude?
Henry David Thoreau famously wrote, ‘ I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.’ Thoreau’s celebration of solitude has itself been celebrated widely ever since.
Some of the most beautiful experiences of my life have been in silence and solitude. For some of us the idea of spending time alone on a silent retreat or spending time alone with yourself is indulgent, perhaps even a little scary, boring. I have the privilege of volunteering at Peter Mac hospital and a common theme among patients is “I relax by taking care of my family” or “I’m ok, I am just keeping myself busy.”
This is not an uncommon way of living for a lot of us. We often fill each moment with doing. Even our yoga and meditation practice can be part of the doing, Part of the filling each moment with something.
But I feel there is a deep message for our human family.The world is taking a little breather and perhaps asking us to do the same. To slow down to come home to ourselves and get in touch with who we are and what is really important to us.
Formal practice of yoga and meditation are the necessary training ground for mindfulness, but really our whole life every moment of it, is yoga is meditation.
Mindfulness is a relaxed attentiveness to what is happening in and outside of us and right now we have a beautiful opportunity to peek inside and look at perhaps parts of ourselves that we may have been neglecting that may be wounded. From a Buddhist perspective we are encouraged to cease yearning for happiness outside of ourselves and trust that true happiness lies with in.
There are many great suggestions of how to keep entertained at home, but what if we were not entertained, and stopped distracting ourselves from ourselves?
Shut our phones off, got away from our computers, just for a little while and embraced solitude, without relying on external avenues to save us from being with ourselves.
It can be quite confronting to stop and allow what we have been suppressing to reveal it’s self.
This coming home needs gentleness, and kindness.
There may be a lot of a resistance, but if you can, set aside time each day, to be in a peaceful place, to walk in nature or even to just look at a flower or the sky then that beauty will penetrate us and feed our love and joy.
Nelson Mandela was once asked what he liked to do most? He said that because he was so busy, what he liked to do the most was to just sit and do nothing. Because to sit and to do nothing is a pleasure - you restore yourself
So as we stay home to care for our ourselves, our loved ones, our community, our world, there will be great hardship for many, but as the Dalai Lama reminds us there are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow.
May we see this time as a gift. An opportunity to slow down, restore and replenish. If it does feel more like isolation, loneliness I am here for you. I am available via phone 0448 345 338 or email.
I will leave you with this beautiful poem below.
Take much care sending peace and love to you.
And the people stayed home
And read books and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art
And played games, and learned new ways of being, and we were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed,
Some danced. Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently
And the people healed.