Weekly Practice 39
Every week we profile one of the “Reflect to Create! “ practices from my book, they are chosen at random from a jar on my desk. My invitation is for you to try it out if it speaks to you in some way.
This week we are profiling Practice 81: Embracing Solitude (from page 154 of my book).
Practice 81 is one of the dance steps in The Flow’s Initiating the Invitation.
Initiating the Invitation enables us to gently create the space and spaciousness within ourselves to step into the unknown to access its creativity and potentiality. This is the courageous art of losing ourselves to become fully present to not knowing and being in the unknown.
I have chosen Practice 81 as we all adjust to the new norm of social distancing – and for some self isolation – to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe. I am typing this today looking out into our garden at home admiring the arrival of spring. The garden is decked in beautiful snowdrops and daffodils. The trees are budding. Our magnolia is in full bloom. I am stunned by their beauty, determination, vulnerability and fragility – which I sense is also a mirror for our own states.
Solitude is not loneliness. But is it an alone-ness that frees us to be ourselves without censorship. Solitude is a powerful resource: it gives us the space to discover the deepest sources of our intention, passions, joy and fulfilment and to return to share these gifts in our life and work. Wendell Berry grants us this permission¹:
We enter solitude in which we also lose loneliness. True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible… In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.
Quoting Pythagoras, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote²:
‘In the morning, solitude; … that nature may speak to the imagination, as she does never in company.’
Solitude is a difficult discipline. It feels alien in today’s plugged-in world and can also be scary. As David Whyte writes³:
A beautiful and difficult sense of being solitary is always the ground from which we step into a contemplative intimacy with the unknown….. but is often experienced as alienation, grief and abandonment. … To be alone is to shed an outer skin…. Alone we live in our bodies as a question rather than a statement…. Being alone asks us to re-imagine ourselves, to become impatient with ourselves….to start to tell the story in a different way… to make a friend of silence…
Consider your relationship with solitude.
- Ask yourself ‘What is my relationship to solitude?’ Journal your ideas.
- Ask yourself ‘What is the difference for me between solitude and loneliness?’ and ‘How does this play out in my life?’ Journal your ideas.
- Ask yourself ‘Can I make a friend of solitude?’
- Ask “What is solitude wanting me to know at this time?
A final thought from Thoreau who writes (4):
‘I love to be alone. I never found a companion as companionable as solitude.’
Have a go!
Start with small steps.
Please do share your stories so we can all learn together.
Join us on our “Reflect to Create!” Facebook group page
1. Downloaded 5th September 2017 from https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/17/wendell-berry-pride-despair-solitude/
2. Downloaded 5th September 2017 from https://aeon.co/ideas/before-you-can-be-with-others-first-learn-to-be-alone
3. Whyte, D. (2015) Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. Pp 1. Langley, Many Rivers Press
4. Thoreau, H., D., (1910) Walden Pp 120. New York, Thomas Y Crowell & Co. Publishers