The Importance of Solitude

“Our language has wisely sensed these two sides of man’s being alone. It has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.” 
~  Paul TillichThe Eternal Now

 

We’re on Retreat right now, walking a path of meditation and contemplation. I promised to share some simple wisdoms and activities from retreat, so today I’d like to focus on the human need for solitude. As much as we need companionship and community, we also need alone time. This time on our own enables us to think deeply about our life, our problems and opportunities, our relationships and our work. Alone time quietens us and reduces our stress, allowing us to come back to the world refreshed. It makes room for the kind of deep listening that brings us answers and inspiration. It deepens our intuition. And it provides space for learning and healing.

Many of us in the modern world have lost touch with our need for regular periods of solitude. We have become overwhelmed by busy-ness and an avalanche of consumerism and trivial information.

Image from www.wattpad.com

One of my guides, Silith, offered this advice for helping us to come back to a place of peace and connection with her ‘Three Useful Cures for Nearly Everything’:

  1. Walking – Walking is essential to our health and well-being. Humans evolved as walkers, and walking puts us into a natural meditative state. Walking promotes healthy digestion and strong immunity, and gifts us time for thinking and integration of new ideas and change.
  2. Time in nature, alone. When we spend time in nature our body relaxes, and we are able to ground any excess of positive ions. Nature replenishes our spirit and gives us the deep quiet we need for listening to our own answers and inner guidance, as well as tuning our intuition in to any spiritual guidance or direction. This could be time in parks, natural spaces or wilderness, but it can also be time spent in your garden.
  3. Sleep. Sleep is an important time of solitude. Most of us don’t get enough of it. Turn off the wifi and all screens at bed time. Sleep in a cool and well ventilated bedroom that is dark and quiet. Have a comfortable bed and a good pillow.

 

We need to make sure we balance the busy with the quiet, for ourselves and for our children too. If you feel called to spend more time in solitude, trust that calling. We seek solitude whenever we need healing, or because we are incubating the energy to make a profound change in our lives, or are bringing new ideas and projects into being.

What can you do this week to find more time for solitude?

Sending much love your way, Nicole  xx

Travelling With Bukowski

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I always travel with a book. Sometimes several.

But this trip I decided to load e-books on my kindle, as well as a few audio books, and bring just a journal instead, to save space.

It worked for a while.

And then suddenly it didn’t.

 

In a bookshop in Manila I found the English Language section. They stocked a broad and eclectic range, and the books were mostly cheap paperbacks with impossibly thin pages and thin covers and several of every copy, impenetrable in their plastic wrapping.

I excavated a thin poetry book that was hidden behind new editions of recent best-sellers. The protective cover was gone; the small book was so well read that the cover was creased almost in two and every page was soiled and marked. Like all of the travellers before me I stopped and dipped between its pages for a moment. The world stood still as words fell around me like rain.

I dug around the shelves some more and then I found it. A volume of Charles Bukowski’s poetry. The cover was soft with wear. It was well read and loved already. It felt good in my hand, like I belonged to it, and it to me. I couldn’t bring myself to open it. I just held it tight, and stood in front of the shelves a little longer, pretending that I might choose something else. Wondering if I could take it home.

I couldn’t see for tears.

Once, long ago, I took a journey to another far-away place and forgot to take a book with me. I was living in the Kimberley then. The remote Australian outback. A terrible place to be without a book.

Not long after I arrived a group of American tourists camped at the station. It was their last adventure before they caught a plane to Darwin and then home. On the morning of their departure they dumped whatever they didn’t need, to lighten their luggage.

Later that morning I watched a cleaner empty the trash from the men’s toilet. Among the papers and bottles and debris I saw a book fly into the bin. Before I could stop myself I ran from the office and snatched it up. I didn’t even stop to read the cover. It was a book, and I was a junky starved of words.

I wiped it clean with a corner of my shirt and carried it home triumphant.

This same book.

For days back in that wilderness place I couldn’t even open it. I just read the cover over and over. The title said ‘You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense – Charles Bukowski.’

I felt like Bukowski was talking to me. I knew and he knew.

And as I chose and read a single poem, rationing them to every other day, I came to know that poets exist to sing breath back into our bodies when we can no longer breathe for ourselves.

I lost that precious book when we moved from the Kimberley. But now we have found each other again.

I read one randomly selected poem aloud each day, to entertain Ben and to nurture myself. It’s like travelling with an old friend.

It’s like coming home.

 

A Gentle Morning

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“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
~ Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

 

My Working with Intuition Retreat starts in just a few days, so I’m soaking up some quiet time, getting ready to enter that sacred space.

There is nothing like dawn, the ocean, clear skies and a little space to soothe the most restless of souls.

How about you? Can you find a little quiet time for your soul this week?

Thinking of you and sending much love, Nicole <3 xx

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Morning Rituals To Greet The Day

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“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
~ Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

 

It’s cold this morning. Four am meditation finished, the house still silent with sleep. Last night’s fire rendered down to ash.

I push the back door of our little farmhouse open and am hit with a blast of air metallic with frost. The night sky is lit with stars. Far away at the neighbours I hear the faint song of a rooster as he senses that sunrise is just behind the lip of the hills that surround us.

Filling my arms with the heavy weight of ironbark splits I push back through the door and kneel by the fireplace. Hands already numb with cold fumble twigs and crumpled paper on top of the bed of ash. It smoulders and catches before I can find a match. I feed the logs onto the flames and swing the door of the combustion stove shut. My hair is scented with woodsmoke now and I sit for a moment to watch the gathering dawn outside my window as the sky above the orchard turns from black to silver.

The fireplace creaks and clatters as the metal expands. Fingers of red and orange lick at the old dry timber and the fire roars to life.

I fill the kettle with water that tastes of clean earth and rain. While it heats I light a stick of incense, and hear the first sleepy stirrings of the dogs stretching and yawning themselves awake.

Outside in the silvery light a pair of wallabies graze on the grass beneath the lemon tree. Soon I hear their soft thuds as they bound down the side of the house, making for the river flats.

Today, five days after our retreat ended, it is time to come back out into the world again. Restored. Refreshed. Ready.

I pour water over tea leaves. I turn on my computer and sit at the kitchen table waiting for the tea to draw and the room to warm. Birds begin to sing their morning songs.

The dogs are awake now. They push past me and stand with their noses pressed against the door, waiting to be let outside. Their tags wag furiously and I feel their joy.

It’s a new day, bright with possibility.

Good morning! I’m sending much love to you. May you find a little solitude for yourself too today. <3 Nicole xoxo

Sleepy Morning

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“I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.”
~ Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

 

I woke to the sound of rain.

It was soft at first, a comforting patter of drops on the old iron roof.

It made me want to snuggle back under the covers, but meditation is so long a practice in me now that I eased my body up and crept quietly from the bedroom.

As I sat in the cool, dark pre-dawn of my tiny lounge, the light rain became hard.

The sound of the rain on the roof obliterated all else. It made its own kind of music, easy to get lost in.

When the sun approached the dark crescent of our world she stole the rain away.

Now the air is scented with earth and damp foliage. The sky is heavy with low cloud. And the last raindrops are being shaken from the leaves and branches. They fall in tiny tunes on the tin.

I shall make a pot of tea.

While the house slumbers I will write.

I love the quietness of these solitary beginnings. Just me, the birds, the clouds and the rain-soaked paddocks.

Up comes the sun.

Good Morning. I wish for you, and for myself, a day of deepening peace.

And to you, my friends on the other side of the world, sweet slumbers and soothing dreams.

Bless xx

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Unplugging for the Super Moon

Full Moon Image - Shutterstock

Full Moon Image – Shutterstock

“Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you – sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever.” 
~ Lauren Oliver, Pandemonium

 

Last night the pull of the moon was strong in my heart.

There were so many opportunities for me to be with others, and to be out in the world, but with the moon bright in the sky, and the scent of red dust and the memories of my old Aboriginal Aunties at the forefront of my mind, all I wanted to do was unplug from the world for a while, rug up and watch the night sky, and then turn in for some meditation and an early bedtime.

There is much to be said for the restorative power of the moon.

And of meditation.

And of sleep.

I’ve woken refreshed and peaceful in my skin today. Loved up and ready for the world again. And oh, how I flew the bright skies last night. Oh, how I flew…

Image from Portage News

Image from Portage News

Gentle Rain

Rain Drops

“The only noise now was the rain, pattering softly with the magnificent indifference of nature for the tangled passions of humans.” 
Sherwood Smith

 

I’ve lain awake for much of the night, listening first to a thunderstorm, and later, to the gentle sound of rain falling.

I can hear the gurgle of rain in the gutters, the soft croak of happy frogs, the far-off roar of trucks on the highway, the noise of which only ever carries on nights like these.

There is the sound of rain on the tin roof, sharp and bright. There is the muted plunks of raindrops falling on the leaves and grass.

Since early this morning there has been a new sound, the tinkling joyful sound of water running in the creek.

There is something very affirming about rain. And as the day dawns, and I make a cup of tea with water harvested from previous rainfalls I like to thing of those drops from heaven, mixing with my tea leaves, and making a magical elixir to nurture my body, mind and spirit.

Travel gently today, dear friends. Much love to you xx

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