Spending time in solitude helps us connect to the guidance of our true self ~ and get clarity around what’s coming next on our life’s journey.
Some days I think I can hear the clock ticking on my life. It’s a quiet ticking, but it’s there. Time seems to be speeding up and running short. I’m never comfortable with this feeling. It always brings up all sorts of questions for me.
Who am I and what do I want to come next?
How can I thrive at this stage of life?
Is there a resting place where I can stop to catch my breath and get clear on things?
Time spent in solitude lifts the spirits and leads to insight
When I feel the need for that resting place I love to spend time in solitude, doing simple things that bring me pleasure and a feeling of peace and wellbeing. Things like soaking in a hot bath. Resting for a while in a quiet corner of my garden. Listening to a favourite piece of music. Losing myself in a good book. Or baking muffins in my kitchen.
There’s another level of solitude though that goes beyond lifting the spirits. It will help you find answers to those big Who, What, Why and How questions.
Create your very own sanctuary
If you want clarity around how best to live these years of your life it’s a good idea to create a sanctuary for yourself – a quiet secluded place where you can listen for the guidance of your inner voice. This is your little corner of the world – a place where the conditions are always right for contemplation and inspiration.
To create your little refuge there are a few steps to follow:
1) Shut out the world.
Disconnect yourself from the cellphone, iPod, world wide web and 24 hour news and information stream. Choose to connect to another kind of stream – the flow of divine energy that runs through all things – God – or any other name you give to the source of all life.
2) Draw a line around your solitude.
If you don’t have an entire room you can call your own draw an imaginary line around your favourite chair and call everything inside that line your sanctuary.
3) Choose the things in your sanctuary with care.
Include things that, for you, feel holy and have a calming element to them. Flickering candles or sounds and objects that evoke a sense of tranquility. Maybe a tiny bell. Or music that has a meditative quality. This is a very personal thing and what you choose to take into your solitary place will be absolutely unique to you.
Take some time to reflect on what feels holy to you. There are a number of meanings of this word but the one I relate to is the Old English word hālig which is actually equivalent to the word whole. When I seek a feeling of holiness it is not aligned to any religion. It has to do with pulling all the disjointed parts of myself together to create a sense of wholeness in mind body and spirit.
When I look for something that feels holy I’m looking for something that helps me make the shift from my everyday rational reality to a place where I am more aligned with spirit and the wisdom that can be found there.
I have a gorgeous cashmere sweater that I love to wear in such times as it is feels this way for me. I don’t rationally question why things do or don’t feel holy and I urge you not to also. This is a way of inviting the sacred into your life and not something you can manage via your ego or rational mind. Don’t rush this process of identifying what feels this way to you. Be open to new possibilities and be patient. If you set the intention to bring a little holiness into your life things will show themselves to you – all in good time.
4) Now surrender
Slip off your shoes, loosen constrictive clothing and sit or lie in your very own space. Let your mind chatter on. Don’t engage with it. Just let thoughts drift by like clouds on a breezy day. This is the place of no effort or struggle. There is no doing here. Only Being.
Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast talks of the wisdom that rises out of the great silence. That wisdom is there for all of us. No exceptions! No need to labour over this. Ask nothing of yourself.
Just let yourself BE and over time you’ll find you start to hear the wisdom you seek – on how best to BE YOU after 50 – rising out of the silence.
“Solitude is such a potential thing. We hear voices in solitude we never hear in the hurry and turmoil of life; we receive counsels and comforts, we get under no other condition…” -Amelia E Barr
The love of my life took this photo of me in one of my favourite places to spend time alone ~ the deck of our little cabin in the woods in upstate New York. Do you have a favourite solitary place? If so I’d love it if you’d post a photo here below, and share a little about why it is so special to you.
ps. Once you’ve created your real-world sanctuary you can go a step further and use your imagination to create an inner sanctuary for yourself. Either way, you’ll love the results!