Tag: solitude

Finding Your Inner Guide

Finding Your Inner Guide

Duke Gardens, Durham, NC
Duke Gardens, Durham, NC

Many of us, particularly those of us who are members of the “scar clan”, the walking wounded, have an unhealthy tendency to minimize our accomplishments. We look around us and see only those people who excel, who have accomplished what we have accomplished and more. As our access and, perhaps more precisely,  our exposure to what’s going on in the world is heightened by technology, particularly while we are healing we need to be careful, and intentional, about what we allow into our view. If we do not, we may find ourselves shrinking away in horror at our utter ineptness by comparison to what we see.

Focusing our attention outside of ourselves is always a path to destruction, as in doing so we lose sight of our own inner directives and talents. The people we put on a pedestal are people we only know very superficially. The Oprah’s of the world. We may think we know them, but we only know the facade they carefully choose to share with the world. This is true all the way down to the people we connect with in social media who seem to be very much like us. They may be, but again, we do not see as clearly as we might the road they have traveled to where they are now, or even what their road really looks like.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of comparing our insides to their outsides.  (Thank you to my good friend Jill who first uttered these words to me.) It’s a wonderful little phrase that sums up a crucial concept that we should repeat to ourselves often on our healing journey and long after!

We can only walk in our own shoes. If we are fortunate we may have one or two other people in our lives with whom we have a deep enough connection to walk a bit in theirs and who set a higher standard that we can model and grow toward.  By and large, however, those “successful” people against whom we measure ourselves really have no bearing whatsoever on how we live, what we do and who we are. We only see their outsides, not their insides. We have no idea what is really true about their world as we are only seeing a very small piece of it.

It takes time, effort and attention, but when we become aware that we are doing this, it’s important to take several steps back and find our core selves again. If we do this often enough, it will become a habit and a way of life. If we ignore the signals, we will spend our lives trying to be someone we’re not, living a life we were not meant to live, all the while feeling like a failure.

We are meant to live our own lives. We are meant to use the gifts we were given. We were meant to be as fully and completely present in love to the world in which we live. Period.

When I start comparing my insides to someone’s outsides, I have learned to use this as a signal that I am not paying enough attention to the needs of my own soul, that I am not tuning in to my own heart.  I now use this awareness to draw myself back into the fold, calling my attention back to my inner guide and resources. If need be, I shut off the TV, I limit my time online, I turn my attention away from external input of any kind, even books and spend more time alone.

We all have different levels of tolerance for solitude. I am a person who requires a ton of it, but the important thing is that when we become aware that we are living “outside of” ourselves, increasing our time spent in quiet will help us to restore our inner balance.

In this quiet space I write and meditate.  You may enjoy doodling, drawing, needlework, creating a vision board, or simply doing nothing. Follow your instincts. Whatever facilitates communication with your true self and helps you clear away the debris of the world is what will bring you back to you. The first step is to disconnect from the outside world.

Think Time

Think Time

Today is one of those wonderful rainy days that invite rest and reflection. For the half-cup empty kind person like myself, such a day is a rare occurrence and one to be embraced. On occasion, a rainy day and I co-exist happily together, feeding on our similar contemplative, brooding natures and snuggling under the covers of introspection. But, not often enough.

It is also the kind of rainy day that called for a walk through the puddles, albeit a walk resulting from the endless prodding of a relentlessly pacing, determined dog whose urgings could not be ignored. I was grateful to him in the end.

You might enjoy a visit to 1950's Atomic Ranch House offering antique, vintage, retro items, photos, links and topics daily, where I found this photo. Click on the photo.

So I sweatshirt-ed and hooded and leashed my furry companion venturing out into the pouring spring rain with eager determination. It was not long before I felt invigorated by the cool moist air and my mind began to race uninhibited, sorting through the clutter that always finds a home on the desktop of my brain. My step quickened trying and keep up. Gradually we came into rhythm with one another, my brain and I, and it occurred to me that I don’t often give myself permission to let off the controls.  Usually I force myself to “focus” on one problem or another. This was something different and it felt good. Necessary. Liberating.

Last week I wrote about the benefits of “quiet time”. While quiet in a fashion, this was really “think time”, a time of disconnection from purposeful, guided brain activity, even self-imposed quiet time.

I can’t help but wonder how children, who usually suffer through an enforced “quiet time”, might react to the concept of “think time”. Might they be more cooperative and less resistant to stopping the usual activities when given something  to focus their attention on, even if it is their own thoughts? Wouldn’t this be preferable to the arduous task of shutting down their eager little minds and bodies entirely, a task inordinately difficult for most?  Might teachers instruct them in how to listen to their thoughts, thereby teaching them to listen to their own inner voice,  thereby instilling a beneficial life lesson as well as a restful break in activity?  Children might see it as a wonderful game of discovery, finding  it amusing and engaging and achieving the same results of quiet rest.

For us weary adults, a long walk in the rain, without electronic attachments, is a perfect way to create an opportunity for “think time”. We cannot always break away from the worry and planning and active thinking that our minds too often latch on to, but we can create space and time in our days for the possibility that our thoughts might enjoy an opportunity to find their own path. What might we discover? Today, I discovered a sense of my brain’s own ability to shuffle and sort and integrate without me, freeing up new space and energy for creativity without even trying.