Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sacred Solitude

"Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that's where I renew my springs that never dry up." - Pearl Buck

Solitude,  Sir Frederic Leighton, oil on canvas, 1890
Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, Washington.

I believe it's sacred to spend time alone.

We live in a society so polarizing we feel pulled apart most of the time.  Demands on our time make us feel fragmented.  We describe the overload of stress as causing us to wonder if we're coming or going. 

I believe that we can learn to feel more whole by spending some of our time in solitude.

By that, I don't mean simply being alone, watching television, reading, working out, or surfing the internet. I see solitude as a chosen period of time used for the purpose of reflection, prayer, or meditaton.

To me, solitude is a chance to listen and appreciate. You may choose to "saunter through the woods for four hours a day, at least," as Henry David Thoreau did, or you might choose to sit in silence in a comfortable chair for fifteen minutes each morning.

Those of you who know me well know that I've been practicing a meditation for over a year now called Inner Smile, based on precepts which combine The Tao and Traditional Chinese Medicine (ooh, that sounded's not). Basically, it's an introspective visit to the five major internal organs of one's body (heart, spleen/stomach region, lungs, kidneys, and liver).

As I enter peacefully "into" each organ, I smile (literally...smiling into your heart, etc. is very powerful), thank it for the way it serves me, acknowledge the hard work it does, and then release any negative emotions held there (according to TCM, each organ is the storage point for positive and negative emotions, but I won't elaborate on that here). Just the simple thought that you are releasing negativity from your body can be very healing.

I absolutely love this meditation, but it may not be for you. I promise you, though, there is healing in the very act of honoring your soul by sitting with it and focusing on it alone every once in a while. It is sacred.

If you haven't made a moment of sacred solitude part of your routine yet, I encourage you to do so without guilt. It is absolutely as important as working, paying the bills, tending to the home, exercising, or playing with the kids.

As Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, "What a commentary on civilization, when being alone is being suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it - like a secret vice."

Don't allow anyone to encroach upon this sacred moment. You're not a recluse, or a hermit...or, godforbid, antisocial. You are taking care of yourself.

I'll get off the corner soap box now with this thought. As the original Ad Men said, "Try it, you'll like it."

Today, I hope you begin your journey to sacred solitude.

Van Morrison takes his soap box to the corner with this great performance of "The Healing Game." Many thanks to my friend, Lisa T., for this one. Enjoy! 


  1. Jo ... Thank you sharing your words in todays blog. My husband and I have practiced Transcendental meditation for some years now. What you practice sounds even better. We do forget sometimes to take care of ourselves first. But then we must remember if we want to help others, we must be of good mind and health ourselves. God Bless <3 Donna

  2. You're so welcome, Donna! Like they always say, be sure to put your oxygen mask on first before trying to help others with theirs, right?

    Thanks for including your thoughts, Donna. Blessings back to you,

  3. jo, i treasure solitude - my morning sitting is so very good for that and i also love to cycle on my own - sometimes for hours on end. i know others who also cycle on their own and i have had opportunities to share with them the nature of what goes on in those alone times. an ojibway friend was the first to lay that one bare for me. he said "i bet you start out whistling or singing and then you start talking to yourself about all the junk in your head and then you go quiet and listen and really connect to everything around you and then you let go of everything right?" yep, that's exactly what happens. without a plan, it just happens that way. sweetness and light jo! steven

  4. What a soothing post, painting and I love Van Mprrison. Just perfect for me today with all of the planning for the wedding in just 3 weeks...Whew. But I AM going to stop and smell the roses from now on....

    Love and Love coming your way along with the storms <3

  5. My goodness you have a beautiful blog... :-)

    I absolutely cherish my solitude. At one time, I thought absolutely the worst thing was to be alone, but now my solitude renews and refreshes me. It gives me peace and serenity. I love to spend time alone, in silence, with my thoughts and my books. More people should try it.


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