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Tenth Anniversary Issue (and final issue)
A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine
November's Theme: "Secluded"
Volume 11 Issue 1 ISSN# 1708-3265

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Living… Naturally
~ Solitude ~

with Nicole Gardner

Solitude is not heavily sought after in our culture. We are a culture which values the extrovert, the social butterfly. We are raised to join the group, to be social, to participate and communicate, and don't get me wrong, I see the value in all of that, but I also think solitude can be a wonderful thing too. Solitude is a retreat within, an act of non-engagement or non-participation, and I suppose it is seen as a threat to the social fabric that underpins our lives.

When I think of solitude, I get an image of Thoreau in his cabin near Walden Pond. Communing with nature, solitude is an opportunity to connect to our spiritual side as we observe nature and our surroundings with greater focus and awareness. At least that's one benefit that I get from being alone. I read a book a while ago written by a man who had spent a year in the wilderness in solitude, and his struggles and coming to terms with the negative emotions that arose during that time; there's no avoiding the parts of yourself you don't care for so much when there's no one else to interact with. And I've watched the show "Alone in the Wilderness", of the man who lived in the Alaskan wilderness for most of his adult life, apparently quite contentedly.

The act of non-participation, while threatening to the extroverts among us, actually takes a lot of courage. It is not highly valued, and yet, as an introvert myself, I find it is highly valuable. It rejuvenates and replenishes, restores and heals. Solitude is grounding. But as highly beneficial as solitude is, solitude is seen as acceptable only when you've retreated from the hustle and bustle of your daily life. It isn't commonly accepted as something we might need on a daily basis, however we can claim it. Raw Food and Fasting Coaching with Aleesha Sattva

Solitude can look different for everyone. If you live in the city, you might find solace in a nearby park or on a trail by an urban lake. Maybe it is time spent in meditation in the evening before bed, or maybe it is an early morning yoga routine on the deck at sunrise — just you and the crisp autumn air, and the sight of the sun as it eeks over the horizon. You might be lucky enough to be able to retreat to the picturesque image of Thoreau's cabin in the woods. Or maybe solitude is time spent by the ocean as the waves pound the rocky shore. However it looks for you, it is exactly as it should be if it fills you with joy and renewed spirit.

For me, solitude is a gift to myself — a gift of self-care. I find solitude to be relaxing and rejuvenating. In winter, I like to curl up in front of the woodstove with a good book or a handwork project. Solitude is something that seems seasonal; I get through summer knowing that come autumn, feeling full from the abundance and bounty of summer, I will want to naturally pull within, build a cocoon, and retreat into solitude. And I'll know I've had enough solitude when I get bored with it and find myself wanting social stimulation - coincidentally, usually in early spring.

As my need for solitude wanes, I find myself drawn to social situations and the busyness of life once again. But I find when I am surrounded by people and stimuli all the time, it is somewhat easy for me to feel disconnected from my Truth. Although I cannot see it, I know that I am swayed by the energy of others when they are close by, both positively and negatively, if I have not recently grounded myself in solitude.

When I am out, especially at a larger social function, I enjoy the atmosphere and soak up the social energy — for a while. But if it goes on many hours, at some seemingly arbitrary moment, the introvert in me has enough. It is as if a switch is flipped, and I go from enjoying myself to "had enough; time to go" surprisingly quickly. Every time it happens, it startles me (and my extroverted husband). At that moment, I crave solitude. I struggle with this. Not so much the need for solitude, but my inability to predict with any accuracy when the need will arise, because I realize it can be disruptive for those I am with.

It is like the moon and the tides: this continuous ebb and flow between social stimulation and solitude. There is nothing to fear in spending time alone — fill your cup with the joys of solitude — and come back to the world refreshed. And when you've had enough of the constant stimuli of your daily life, make time for solitude.


Nicole Gardner is a Raw Vegan, retired LLL leader and homeschooling mama with a B.A. (Psych). She's also a Reiki M/T who teaches Tai Chi and a Master Composter. Currently she's working on an organic farm and loving the experience.

She is most interested in living a life in accordance with her values. She believes in lifelong learning, permaculture, organic gardening, building with cob, nonviolent communication (NVC), hiking, rowing and has fasted for over 100 days. And if that's not a varied enough life, she also runs a business bringing monthly bulk raw food orders to the Sooke and Greater Victoria areas. You can learn more by visiting her blog rawfoodsooke.blogspot.com today!

She is also blessed to share a rural west coast lifestyle with her husband, children, one dog, two cats, and twenty-one chickens.

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