Solitude and silence, a gift or a challenge?

September 09, 2018

Solitude and silence, a gift or a challenge?

The first week of September for most people is the beginning of a known routine or setting a new routine. No matter where you are, who you are or what you do, this energy shift is happening around the world and can be felt broadly. Whether you are in the middle of change or affected by the change around you, I hope it energized you in the best way.

Today I'm leaving a reflective week at the Glendalough Hermitage and across the road there is an elementary school with the decibel of little voices as pure energy. In the context of it being the only real sound beyond the birds, the crackle of fire and the occasional distant conversation, it was joyful. 

The week at the Hermitage has been for me pure medicine. Not all as I imagined.  For a long time I have wanted to experience silence in solitude. I have done silent retreats before but always guided with others. Time not occupied by multiple projects, pursuits or relations. Somehow I imagined that when I stopped the all the busyness and focused on being still with love I would have an apparition. 

My focus was to stay present with what arose. This was a welcomed directive having just finished a beautiful retreat that filled me with immense gratitude and love. 
 I wasn't long into solitude when I realized that in order to hear the voice of my own clear heart and clear spirit I have to embrace the many other voices that live in me. The stowaways in the store conscious mind that I haven't seen for a long time suddenly felt an invitation to contribute. The stern judge, the vulnerable victim, the brilliant persecutor, the smart ass heckler, the tired and weary, the dreamer, the skeptic... Sheesh it got busy in there. I needed another week to sleep. Oh the mind!!  As the days went by and more party crashing elements of the mind would arise, so did my strong practice to simply come back to the breath. For that I was really grateful. I'd hear Thay's voice of wisdom addressing the uninvited guests at the door "hello old friend." A common greeting for him to whatever arose. For me this always brings a sense of humour and lightness to the practice of being human and opens a path to being present and mindful. 

Leaving the door open to whatever arises reminds us also that we don't have to go very far to practice deep listening, compassion, forgiveness, non judgement and the art of letting go.  I can't recommend internal house cleaning enough. Actually if we can learn to embrace our own journeys in this way we will be far better equipped to influence positive change in the world we live in.


Morning contemplation:

The only should worth watering is the one that not only could be healthy but would be rooted in the centre of the heart.  G                                                                                                                                                           


During my stay at the Hermitage I learned to make great fires (with days averaging 15C), hiked many trails around this extraordinary historical site and reread Don Miguel Ruiz's book The Four Agreements. It was an even better reading companion for this week than I imagined. Funny how that always happens.;-) The book highlights four powerful agreements: 1/ Be impeccable with your word. 2/ Make no assumptions. 3/ Take nothing personally. 4/ Always do your best. It addresses the internal judgements we formed and agreements that we made. Some in infancy even before we know how to speak, influenced by parental and environmental conditions.  The Companion book prompts you to rate your authenticity from 1-10. It has a long list of questions of how you judge yourself, a situation and others. It also invites you to list the agreements you've governed your life by, giving an opportunity to rewrite your own new Book of Law. It was very inspiring if you're looking for such a prompt. I'm always up for a good rewrite.

So solitude and silence, a gift or a challenge?  Yes to both. Would I do it again and recommend it to those I love? Yes, in a heartbeat! 

I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.

All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.

John ODonohue


Keep well, keep in touch,
with a lotus and a smile


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