Seek Solitude

Solitude

“We live, in fact, in an age starved for solitude.” -C.S. Lewis

Today it takes a conscious effort to be in solitude, with noise and interruption swarming around us… emails, text messages, social media posts, meetings and obligations, and all the countless new intrusions from technology.

These intrusions keep us from taking the deep dive to where reserves of inspiration live within us. Ergonomists say information overload distracts and clutters our thinking.  The only way to achieve clarity is to seek out moments of solitude. All the great leaders in history sought clarity, creativity, emotional balance, and courage via solitude.

No matter who you are—a parent, a CEO, a celebrity, a teacher, a neurosurgeon—you must seek regular intervals of solitude. It is essential to self-awareness. In order to lead and inspire others, you have to lead and be inspired yourself.

Constant connection to intrusions, such as phone alerts, deaden the mind and soul. Part of the solution is simply to unplug; to make yourself inaccessible. This is not the norm, and you will feel uncomfortable at first. You might perhaps try for small amounts of time first until you get used to being inaccessible. The other part is just being aware of what is lost inside. What thoughts are swimming around that you never have time to consider, or to even let materialize? What is inside of you that deserves examination?

Solitude is where things in your subconscious take form and become tangible. It allows you to access intuition. I love this quote from Jim Collins: “To engage in disciplined action first requires disciplined thought, and disciplined thought requires people who have the discipline to create quiet time for reflection. The net results is not doing more, but doing less. ‘Stop doing’ lists reflect great discipline more than ever-expanding to-do lists of frenetic activity.”

And here’s one of Warren Buffett’s best phrases: “Inactivity can be very intelligent behavior.”

So take some quiet time. Engage with this suggestion and commit to the hard work of time alone. It might feel like an indulgence, or maybe even a waste of your precious time at first—but through regular periods of solitude for reflection and self-examination, you will be amazed at the benefits you receive.

A great follow up resource: A book by Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin: Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude.

 

Get Out of your Mind and Come to Your Senses

In May I attended a Wild Women Retreat Through the Eyes of The Horse, facilitated by Dragonfly Healing and Harmony Hills Natural Horse Facility. Every year I pick a retreat where I can rest, reflect and re-evaluate.

I need to identify where I am going, and if I am asking the right questions. And, most of all, I go to reset my nervous system. Our guides were Corinna Stevenson, Dragon Healing B, Ed. MATP- Ecopsychology, and Kari Bowser, B.A., Licensed Parelli Professional, two-star.

Over two and a half days, we were shown the “fox walk,” experienced clearing-the-mind meditation, and how to choose a sit spot, showing us that when you slow down your mind gets quieter.

Once quiet we were invited to ask and journal about the following questions…

  • What is my joy?
  • What is my love?
  • What is my fear?
  • What is my connection?
  • What do I crave?
  • What do I seek?
  • What does it mean to surrender?
  • How do I stand in my truth?
  • What is my medicine?
  • What does it mean to belong?
  • What is my confusion?
  • What is my next step?

Great questions, right? How often are we reacting to life instead of responding to the insights revealed in asking those questions?

Once we completed this reflection exercise, we came back to the circle for debriefing and sharing. The conversation around grief was very impactful.

“Grief sits on the pedestal of Beauty. You have grief because you care deeply about something. Beauty and grief are sisters,” says Corinna Stevenson. How wonderful to embrace grief—something we generally associate with misery and pain—in such an insightful way.

Next, Kari invited us to walk through the Harmony Hill’s herd without disturbing the herd’s energy… asking permission, stopping to check in with our own energy-reset to match the herd. How often we only have our own agenda. It is a true gift to connect with the big, beautiful creatures by asking, setting boundaries, and being curious.

Corinna shared “The School of Lost Boarders 4 Shield Model,” (http://schooloflostborders.org/content/four-shields-wholeness-excerpts-four-shields-initiatory-seasons-human-nature-lost-borders-pr) and shared the gifts of the Feminine, which are creation, cleansing, change, and unconditional love. The four gifts of the Masculine: student, teacher, provider, and protector.

Our parting gift, made by the facilitators, were bracelets created from hairs gifted from each horse, as reminders of the weekend, which exceeded my expectations. The clean food that was served gave us a mega-dose of vitality and sustenance, and the love and nurturing connections (people /horses) and environment were beautiful and meaningful.

One takeaway that I would like to pass on is The Sensory Nature Experience: it helps you to Get Out of Your Mind and Come to Your Senses. We use our senses to interface with the physical world, and our minds get so entangled that we are often regurgitating the same old thoughts and patterns, which keep us from living a whole life.

To begin find a perfect Sit Spot, find a place that is close, in nature, is safe and is alone. Begin by becoming present, breathe, and think about the exchange of oxygen from the plants and giving back the carbon dioxide.

Next see with the eyes of an owl, softening and expanding to your peripheral vision. What do you notice?

Now close your eyes and switch to hear with the ears of a deer. What do you hear with the right ear? And what do you hear with the left ear? What sounds are they? What direction are they coming from? Are you able to filter out some sounds and focus on others?

Opening your eyes, touch like a raccoon and feel objects around you and the earth. Ask permission for you to share space. Touch your body. What does it feel like? Are there any messages?

Next let your sense of smell and taste come forth. Open your mouth and take in a full breath of air. Smell the air. Does is smell fragrant, earthy, or something else?

After a short pause, shift your awareness to being “observed by nature, observed by the soul of the world,” as Corinna Stevenson says. Is it communicating with you? Does the wildlife nearby sense your presence? What is the history of the landscape? What does opening to this idea do to your awareness?

I chose to leave you with this condensed version of Corinna’s teaching: in no way is it given here with such sacredness and reverence as when she delivered it. This simple exercise truly does get you out of your mind and back to your senses.