I feel it is a fitting time to share this little reminder I came across this morning in All About Love by bell hooks. This is a time we are learning to love by being alone. And the above quote reminded me that being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. This pandemic is a looooooong practice of finding solace within - where we can look inside and shed the false self that has been externalized and reinforced by capitalism.
Seeking comfort outside ourselves is what we are taught at a young age and is reinforced our entire lives. It’s why Americans can’t stop going out - outside being a source of relief to our internal loneliness. If you think about what happens when we cried as a child, something was given to us as a salve whether it be food, toy, or physical connection from Mom. Seeking comfort and relief from outside may temporarily relieve the sense of aloneness but it increases a sense of loneliness.
The only answer to loneliness is embracing solitude - going within to allow the divine spirit to be revealed. Through meditation, or through some slow somatic movement like yoga or qigong we can touch the ever present core of our being. “Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into fruitful solitude... loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.”
Allowing the inner spirit room to be revealed develops our sensitivity for seeing the divine in all beings, heightening our “capacity for fellowship with one another. [and] through fellowship we learn how to serve one another. Service is another dimension of communal love.” It’s no coincidence that we have been given the time to hone our skills in solitude at the same time we are being asked to sharpen our vision towards the ills and injustices of the world with a single question at the heart - how might I be of service here?
Let solitude inform a deep sense of comfort and love within your self and that love will reverberate out into the world in productive ways.
Things I've been practicing to stay in loving communion with my core self in solitude:
Create an Altar : Anytime I land somewhere new, I create an altar where I can consolidate my energies. It can be something as simple as a stack of books with a little vase of fresh flowers and maybe a pretty stone. Flowers are nice because they are a reminder of the divine, creative, shakti energy within us and all things. A candle represents the light of our own being. Create an alter where you can come to bow to and honor the core of your self.
Gentle Yoga : Here is a youtube of some gentle movement that I made. Sometimes, when the nervous system is experiencing anxiety, gentle and slow movements help to bring the body and mind back into alignment and increase a sense of wellbeing and homeostasis.
Eating Mindfully : I have been brushing up on Ayurveda with Laura Plumb! I absolutely love all of her recipes. And connecting with the sensual experience of food as you cook - the crisp sounds of chopping, this release of aroma from a citrus, the feeling of massaging greens - is a way to experience a oneness with your food. Not only does Ayurveda call us to the sensual experience of eating, but it also asks us to pay attention to the rhythms of our season - aligning with natures medicines.
Meditation for Sensing Aliveness : This meditation is one that shifts our awareness from identifying with the ego to identifying with the infinite life force energy within us and within all things.
Mindfulness Retreat : This FREE! half day retreat with Tara Brach and John Kornfield felt like such a gift I gave myself early in the Covid quarantine. Find a place where you can steal away uninterrupted for half a day. If you are stuck home with kids, maybe make this an evening retreat after their bedtime or early in the morning before all rise.
These are just a few suggestions. But there are plenty I may not be thinking of. Like visiting places in nature, biking, walking, dancing, or any activity in which you feel most YOU!
Quotes in this post are from All About Love, by Bell Hooks.