The relieving breath of solitude
Day 203/366 days Towards Self-Mastery.
There's got to be a difference between solitude and isolation, I'm sure. What I'm not entirely sure about is whether I'm actually able to make that distinction.
Over the years I have needed a LOT of solitude. It started early, and this need continues to this day. Solitude has provided me with the opportunity to reflect on my life experiences and to try to make sense of them.
However I became really comfortable with that solitude and consequently, it seemed to turn to isolation. Still loving that space to be myself, I discovered the truly relieving benefits of not being confronted with the world on a daily basis.
Some might call that pathology, and to some extent I realised that I had probably left it a bit long before I reintegrate into the social world. I had learned to be extremely independent and self-sufficient. Independence was a value that the society that I grew up in held in high regard.
That same value is the one that separates and isolates us from the external support we need. Strengthening our inner resilience is one thing, severing us from our external support is another all together.
There's a balance to be achieved. The balance between inner strength and self-support, and the ability to reach out for support from others when the world gets too overwhelming.
Strangely or perhaps appropriately, it is now the coming out of this solitude, deliberately mixing and socialising with others more often, that is giving me an opportunity to reflect.
Nowadays it's more about reflecting on my impact with others that I am interested in, rather than their impact on me.
I need to see how I am able to interact with the world. To revisit my early experiences and explore how I'm keeping them in a holding pattern or am I releasing them from my early interpretations.
The drivers of our life steal our opportunities for solitude if we let them. Without solitude there can be no reflection.
The time came to realise that the life I was living was one that was predetermined by others, not by me. It was a sort of social prescription that was expected of citizens that didn't account for the experiences that I wanted for my life, for my family. It was a treadmill, the rat race. That life didn't enable nor encourage solitude. For if it did, that solitude would be the very thing that would wake me up, and it did, when I made it a priority in my life.
Taking time to reflect at the end or the beginning of each day helps to bring balance to your life. You consider your choices, your impact and influences. What is there, where is the personal growth if we work the plan and never reflect?
This time of COVID isolation has many benefits, not the least of which is the time to reflect. What a precious gift it has given to everyone. Who will take advantage of it?
So many people in my own community have reflected and changed their lifestyles during the course of COVID.
Resigned from jobs, renewed relationships, regained dreams, restored balance in their daily life, found space, connected with children, connected with family, started a hobby or craft.
Build a brief time of solitude into your every day. Practice it anyway you wish. Staring at the garden, the stars, the space. Walking through sand at the beach, sitting in the forest, the rhythm of a swing. Breathe.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.