This weekend I needed solitude. I craved the slow, uncomplicated ritual of being home alone, it is here where I restore my energy and mend the daily strain of my mental illness.
I found solace in simple things like reading, photography, organising, and moments in the winter sunshine in the corners of our yard. Amidst the somewhat relentless pressure to be doing more, it has taken me many years to embrace the quiet and peace of doing less.
Beyond the healing of this quiet and peace are the other benefits of solitude, and doing less. Especially for those of us whose daily work involves keeping mentally well, solitude and simplicity can be extra important.
Human connection, touch, laughter shared and belonging to a tribe is equally healing. When solitude becomes everything, it can become potentially harmful. As I approach 20 years since I finally took control of my mental illness, and admitted I needed help, my experience is abundant.
It is through the sharing of this experience that I find a large part of my own healing.
It is really only in the stillness of solitude that we can find the quiet courage to heal, and go on to share our own stories. It is so easy to drown out the need for reflection and healing work with the noise of a busy calendar.
If you find yourself filling your days with activity that doesn’t leave you uplifted and better, or with people who don’t feel like sunshine, don’t worry, I’ve been there. For many years I escaped into busy, into a scheduled life that allowed me to ignore the work that needed to be done.
In addiction and escapism, I found the only thing that allowed me to lessen my pain, and the constant aching and emptiness of my grief.
It has taken many long years for me to accept and embrace the importance and the beauty of solitude. If we can sit in the silence of our own feelings, our own stories, and slowly resist the need to rush through them, this is where we can find the greatest peace.
It is not easy, it is I believe one of the most difficult things we can do, even more so today as we are surrounded by constant distraction. Below are just a few of the ways that I have been able to tune into the beauty of solitude, shared in the hope that you may be able to do the same:
Purposefully set time aside for solitude on a regular basis, for me it is fortnightly or more often if I feel the need strongly
Remove all notifications from your phone, and move all apps with alerts to the second page of your home screen so that they are not visible
Gather reading material such as books and magazines that you know will leave you feeling enriched, leave them in a pile somewhere visible to remind yourself to make the time
Create a space in your home or yard that feels like a sanctuary, so that you are drawn to this space for solitude
Learn to communicate your need for solitude to others, this includes being able to say no in a way that is kind and graceful
Explore a passion such as photography, editing, writing, blogging, flower pressing, drawing or painting that can become a part of your sacred solo practice
Remind yourself that doing less is a form of self-care
Find meditation in some of the simplest of moments such as hanging your washing in the sunshine, gardening, tidying to create a sacred clutter-free space, cooking, writing
Solitude can become such a healing practice, when we have done the work to allow us into this practice without the need to escape xx