Surrendering to Solitude ... Finding Joy
How was your Labor Day weekend?
Mine was looking very lonely at the outset.
All the folks I wanted to spend time with were gone.
Out of town. On retreat. Had other plans.
I was all set to spend the weekend anxiously staring at my walls, when a dear friend who was listening to my plight suggested, "What a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with yourself."
Ok then, I thought. Game on.
I embarked on an adventure of one in my hometown of Crestone, Colorado, the spiritual navel of the North American continent, renowned as a world-class mecca of solitary retreat.
I began on Sunday with a half-day hike in the Sand Dunes National Monument, where I meandered alone on a remote trail in pristine, silent wilderness, seeing nary a soul the whole day.
On Monday I ventured to a nearby hot springs, certain that I would be soaking elbow-to-elbow with hordes of Labor Day tourists.
I arrived to an eerily empty parking lot, followed by spa staff collapsed behind the front desk and gasping,
"The last of the crowds just left an hour ago."
The place was mine. All mine.
I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful holiday.
After a frantic summer of book writing, the solitary relaxation replenished my soul the way no companionship could.
To arrive at solitude we must first enter the abyss of loneliness.
We must lovingly face our the panic and discomfort and know we will survive.
Transforming loneliness into solitude is essential to our healing. Without discovering what Jungian analyst James Hollis calls, "that psychic state wherein one is wholly present to oneself," we have little hope of healing our addictions to food or any other substance, person, or behavior.
What are some self-loving ways to face loneliness?
Here are a few suggestions. Let me know how it goes:
When you're hoping for the phone to ring, turn it off. Lean in to the opportunity.
Take an energy fast. Use candles in lieu of electric lighting.
Allow silence. Still the background noise at home, in the car, at your desk.
Commit one day a month to "sacred selfishness." Let loved ones know it's a day just for you.
Tap on the loneliness. Don't know how to tap? Watch this quick video to learn.
Do you have other ideas? Drop me a line. I'd love to hear them.
We are never lonely because we have lost contact with others. We are lonely because we have lost contact with ourselves.