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The Rare Gift of Solitude and Silence

Such a privilege it is to have the time and space to simply wonder, free from the restraint of the clock and beyond domestic duties and motherly chores. To breathe and be present in the passing moment, letting your mind dream aimlessly as you gaze at the fresh grass in a concentrated trance.

Now captured by the dancing shadows of the afternoon sun filtering through the trees overhead. Giving up the need for control and surrendering into the great unknown. Even if it is only to a small degree you can find aspiration in allowing yourself to touch on the smallest essence of this idea.

When I am in my garden, digging into the earth with my bare hands and adoring the plants I’ve raised in my vegetable patch, my mind and body begin to soften and slow. Senses wake up and tune into the natural world in a deeper, open and curious way. My heart beat is restful and my posture follows the curve of the landscape and fruit.

My attention dances from ladybug to sage and then falls into love following the scent the fresh perfume of the jasmine that is proudly coming into full bloom. It’s a different way of being and relating; one that fulfils my much starved spirit that is tired of identifying as a modern human being.

I am grateful to be a creative and able to live in timeless worlds, weaving together inspiring elements meditated on in the ecology of my own experiences.

The warbling magpie perched in the gumtree overhead sings out in delight to another as if it is their wish to greet you joyfully into a new dimension. But something far distant inside longs to remember that it’s not so new and was a place we all once lived, breathed and celebrated.

The green and brown of the magnolia tree leafs out in colour and shape towards the light as if in a benevolent chorus praising the sun gods. Beneath them another world undisturbed by the light above in the decomposing leaves, dirt and fungi.

My skin feels the gentle breeze of the cool air passing gently across the land reminding that the weather is always on the move.

For the many years prior to the pandemic I have enjoyed the solitude and silence of participating in an annual meditation retreat and part of this ritual involves unplugging from the digital world and all social contact too.

Often retreat participants have a daily routine of waking up early to the sound of a Tibetan bell ringing through your dorm before heading to the meditation hall to sit. Although the bell comes from an unfamiliar ancestry I have let it guide me back to my own kind.

Sitting is often followed by yoga, breakfast and light work in silence and then a slow meandering walk on the surrounding property which is usually the Australian native bushland.

Most of the time I’ve found these experiences to deeply healing and insightful too and I come away feeling content and fulfilled in a way I haven’t experienced from most other activities including family holidays.

I recall after one such retreat the word compassion passed my lips and as I released the sound it reverberated through my chest like a sound bath emerging from my swollen heart and through every cell in my being as I realised the full embodiment of the word.

Our precious lives are filled with information, busyness and incessant demands on our attention. We can barely get through a face to face conversation without someone pulling out their phone to Google something in an attempt to give legitimacy to what they are saying or worse still stating things that are not even facts! Either way, I am left wondering what ever happened to our common sense?

It’s so difficult to pull ourselves away from screens and the tech experts assure its that way by design. A successful business model of profit at scale by commodifying our attention. One can't help but think how did we end up here?

Even when we go off online for a short period of time you can be guaranteed they have drilled deep into your subconscious mind encouraging you to forget where we came from and get back to the rocket ship as they strive toward destination Metaverse.

Barely adults themselves when they birthed the idea in the first place.

I have come to realise as I get older that so much of my waking hours is spent giving my attention away, struggling to know what to pay attention to and knowingly allowing my attention to be hijacked online.

I am only too aware how important it is for me to make time for my own solitude and silence. As a woman it can be difficult to set limits, decline offers and carve out something that benefits yourself for fear of coming across as self interested. But I am and I have.

Spending almost a decade single in my late 30s I came to know solitude like an old familiar friend and while my life now fulfils me finding solitude sometimes alludes me.

Even in a loving long term relationship I suppose it’s a healthy sign of maturity when you can honour each other with the space to explore your aloneness.

Delicious space to meditate, contemplate, write, wander in nature and create can be wonderfully restoring and essential soul food. Letting myself savour in the sweet territory of solitude and silence while it doesn't happen as often as I'd like I am pleased I can still visit and linger awhile.

In these quieter moments I am lost to myself if only to see we are all in the frost of the early winter morning and the drops of melting water as the delicate sunlight carries night into day.


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