FINDING SOLITUDE ON BUSY
I was discovering the healing power of meditation and solitude about the time I decided to run for county executive. You can imagine how hard it was to find time for solitude when campaigning 16-20 hours a day.
Then when I was elected six months later, I became responsible for the work of over 500 employees in the five major divisions of county government. It was equally difficult to find time for meditation and solitude.
I have always believed creative thinking can find some kind of solution to any challenge so I started experimenting with ways to quickly quiet my mind and tap into my inner resources. The main truth I discovered is that mindfulness, simply being fully present with whatever is going on at the moment, can be a real taste treat for the inner being. It is a mini-solitude break.
I picked up another jewel of an idea from Zen master Shinzen Young. Now this one may sound silly to you but please take my word for it, it works. It's called the "slow motion meditation." Just slow down any activity you are engaged in and do it intentionally at half speed.
For example, instead of dictating a memo to my staff, I would intentionally handwrite it at half speed, re-reading it back, over and over. It would take me ten minutes instead of two, but it would slow down my mind and bring blessed quiet within, moving my brain waves into a peaceful alpha pattern. You know you have hit alpha when you have that peaceful "aha" moment, bringing a calming balm to the whole body.
The first time I tried this "slow motion meditation" was in washing dishes. Now 30 years later, I still wash my own dishes by hand and it is one of the sweetest snatches of solitude I have all day.
It also works beautifully when you give your lover a massage. Massages are not meant to be "slam bam" affairs. It will either put both of you to sleep or become acutely romantic. Either way, it will be pure medicine for your body, mind and soul.
Another way we can lay hold of some solitude is a quiet walk with our partner or a good friend. Just walk slow and don't speak. Sometimes holding hands will enhance it and sometimes it will distract you. Try it both ways. I will say this: if you are really tuned into your walking partner, remaining quiet and holding hands can create some powerful, healing energy. But if it doesn't work for you, don't feel you have failed. The object of all spiritual practice is to find what works for you. I have found that a quiet walk while holding hands works with some people and doesn't with others. No one is at fault. Energy works in strange and wonderful ways and seldom works exactly the same way when an activity is repeated.
Mother and Dad loved to read in bed. For hours they would not say a word. They were reading different books but I could "feel the fellowship" when I walked in the room. It was a beautiful sharing of solitude. The more we are tuned into lovers and friends, the less need we have for language. We feel close but at the same time separate, with some part of us knowing we are sharing a special experience together. It's one of the things Jesus meant when He said, the two become one.
One day when I was especially stressed, I just walked out of my office and went to the courthouse lawn where I often saw birds drinking and bathing. This day a robin was there. I slowly moved within two feet of her. Our eyes met. It was a deeply healing experience. I returned to my office refreshed.
Value yourself enough to know that you deserve these precious gifts of peace only you can give to yourself.