Archive for August 24th, 2009

Yesterday I indulged in a “Solitude Retreat.”   As defined in several articles I perused before I decided to do it, this involves at least 24 hours of being on your own in a retreat from the world.   No internet, no music, no TV, no books, no phone, no email.  Just you and your unadulterated thoughts.   You are allowed to write, in fact many articles encouraged journaling, and to do creative things like draw and paint.

Since Jim had conveniently left me to my own devices for 5 days, and my appointment book had a gaping three day hole in it, I decided to try out this “retreat” thing.

Seeing as how I have a spiritual path I follow, I thought I would do some preparation for this exercise in the form of a simple ritual.  Before I got started, I took Ruby for her walk.   On the drive to the park, I had the Eagles “Hell Freezes Over” on my CD player.  I love this album.  I’m probably going out on a limb here, but I think it may be the finest rock album ever.  It certainly has some great songs, not the least is “Get Over It,” which contains (among others) the classic lines, “Complain about the present and blame it on the past, I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass.”   However, that is not the song that was playing, and as I was singing along with what was on, I realized that perhaps it delineates what a Solitude Retreat is all about.

It’s just another day in paradise,

As you stumble to your bed

You’d give anything to silence

Those voices ringing in your head

You thought you could find happiness

Just over that green hill

You thought you would be satisfied

But you never will. —

Learn to be still.

We are like sheep without a shepherd

We don’t know how to be alone

So we wander ’round this desert

And wind up following the wrong gods home

But the flock cries out for another

And they keep answering that bell

And one more starry-eyed messiah

Meets a violent farewell. —

Learn to be still.

Now the flowers in your garden

They don’t smell so sweet

Maybe you’ve forgotten

The heaven lying at your feet.

There are so many contradictions

In all these messages we send (we keep asking)

How do I get out of here?

Where do I fit in?

Though the world is torn and shaken

Even if your heart is breakin’

It’s wating for you to awaken

And someday you will —

Learn to be still.

We all have voices in our heads.   Often the things they are saying to us are way too uncomfortable to hear, face, or think about.  We fill our ears and eyes and minds with other voices, other sounds, other thoughts, so we don’t have to listen to what our body, mind and spirit have to say.   Sometimes we drown those voices with food, chocolate, drink, or other drugs.    Sometimes we drown them out with the counting of reps or steps in our fitness regimes.  Sometimes we drown them out with loud music, other times with games and video.

Before I started my preparatory ritual, I unplugged the phone and turned off the computer.   Then I set my alarm clock so I would wake up before the sun.

I walked the labyrinth in the dewy dawn, called in the directions and watched the sun come up.  Then I walked out.  It was cold in my bare feet.

I spent time in my garden, weeding and looking for a hummingbird feather.   I know they preen just like any other bird, and I want to find one for a friend of mine.  No feather, plenty of weeds though.

I meditated.   I was not able to accomplish any thing more than visualizing colors into my chakras, which is not surprising considering how little meditating I have been doing lately.   I realized I need to practice meditation more.

I took a ritual cleansing bath.   My whole body fits under the water now, even my belly.   I lay with my head underwater, and after a while I noticed there was a lot of noise.   Once I  realized it wasn’t house noises, I focused on the amazing variety of noises my innards were making as they worked on the beautiful lunch I had fed them.   There was a lot of gurgling and clunking and whooshing and bubbling going on, and I tried to feel the activity within myself unsuccessfully.  It seemed with all that noise I should have been able to feel something, but no.  Then I listened to my heart beating, and after  a while I also noticed the rushing of the blood through my ears.   I could drown it all out with my breath, so I did that for a while.   I realized this was another form of meditation, and sank into the experience.  It was probably one of the most relaxing baths I have had in a long time.

As I prepared my lunch and dinner I thought about just how home-made all the components were.   I reflected upon how I have lost so much weight without feeling deprived, or starved.  How much that can be chalked up to eating fresh, unprocessed, unrefined food?   It made me think about people’s food choices and how they fool themselves, or allow themselves to be fooled into eating things that aren’t food.

I spent a lot of time thinking about that subject, because it seems that obesity is rampant and there are many diseases out there that could be food or nutrition related.   Why is there an obesity and cancer epidemic going on?   Is it really genetics?   Or is it that we learned our lifestyles and how to eat from our parents, and so coincidentally we share genes with them at the same time we share their body type and susceptibility to cancer?

Just because some scientist has run a bunch of tests that indicate a certain substance in a tiny quantity won’t kill us outright, that doesn’t mean that our body knows what to do with it when it comes across it.   What happens when it comes across a whole bunch of somethings all at once?   No one has run any study I know of that looks into what happens if you drink a lot of alcohol, take a statin drug and eat artificial butter flavoring all at the same time.  What happens when you eat Yellow Dye #5 and pour DEET all over your body trying to keep off the bugs that are attracted to the artificial fragrances in your shampoo, fabric softener, and deodorant?  People make these kinds of experiments on their own every day.

Maybe the “Walk for the cure” should be a walk away from food additives and environmental chemicals.

I did a lot of journaling, plus I used Tarot as a subconscious prod. I came to realize that I am still going through a lot of growth, as we all are.   We all keep growing and learning as long as we are willing to listen both to the outside word, to the voices in our head, and to take time to be still.

It was good to be still.   I will practice it again.

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