Week three here now in Mexico and feeling like I actually just arrived.
Last week was messy! All about coming to terms with how far I’d wandered away from the contemplative path that has grounded me spiritually for the last decade or so. And in that process of necessary confrontational love and honesty, I had to accept how crucial it is to my actual creative goals here to first restore and reestablish my spiritual practice of contemplative meditation.
Before I can DO, I must BE.
It was jarring (to say the least) for me to confront how uncomfortable I was feeling being here with no one I know and nothing to do. I’m what most people would consider an extremely chill person who is completely comfortable spending time alone. I don’t strive to be busy and I am not at all impressed by people who always feel the need to be doing something. I do not bore easily. I do not need to be out and about a lot. I do not see the sun out and think, “Oh my gosh. What a beautiful day, I need to get out and enjoy it.” Nope. Not me. I am not outdoorsy. I’m indoorsy. And I’ve been this way since I was a child.
So then, you could imagine the discomfort I was experiencing in coming to terms with how badly I was lying to myself about myself But it’s not easy to hide from yourself in the powerful light of a full moon 😉 …and in this waxing and waning fullness, I came to acknowledge a truth that I’d been conveniently avoiding in LA – that while I do spent a significant amount of time either at home or alone, I have not in fact been practicing true solitude.
There’s a difference, I have learned, between the art of solitude and the counterfeit art of ESCAPE. Solitude allows for experiences of aloneness that open us up to a greater awareness of a deep abiding Presence within us and in those around us. Escapism, on the other hand, opens us up to the darker emotions – like the pain of loneliness that can often lead to or resemble depression; or even more worrisome, avoidance and denial of emotion entirely (often manifest is various forms of addiction, -isms, and co-dependancy.)
Here now, in returning to my own practice of meditation known as Centering Prayer, I am accepting an invitation to enter into this solitude and to be met in my aloneness by this deep abiding, loving Presence. And this practice is in turn giving me an unspoken permission to resist the constant urges to go do something. (In fact, the few times I have actually left my cozy neighborhood here, I’ve been less than impressed. What the locals say about Coyoacan I am finding to be completely true. Here, I am in an oasis of peace and charm in an otherwise very hectic city that is honestly, in my opinion, both overwhelming and underwhelming at once. But I digress…)
This invitation and unspoken permission to Be Still is also crucial to my creative process because well, I am a writer and in all practicality, writing requires stillness – a lot of inactivity. Being a writer AND a contemplative, I can’t accomplish my goals, neither creative nor spiritual, by running around all day, constantly looking for someone to hang out with, or something to do or see. It’s pretty cut and dry – if I’m out being busy, I’m not doing what I really want to do which is write.
When I accepted this reality last week, and 1) shut down all of the self-imposed pressure to wake up everyday and do something or see something, and 2) cut lamenting the lack of friends I have or don’t have here, I actually found a flow and a contentment with being still and being alone. And as a result I was able to productively engage in my writing projects AND enjoy my moments of solitary wanderlusting for necessary inspiration.
Now I have a rhythm and it’s my own. Now I accept the best part of not having anything to do, is doing whatever I want to do. When I wake up, when I get to work, when I leave my house, when I get back home…it’s all up to flow. I am free to be as still as I want to be, whenever I want to be.
HOWEVER…the one consistent, non-negotiable part of my day that I am being super intentional about is how it begins. The first thing I do when I wake up is SIT STILL. I get out of bed, I sit in a little chair in my studio, I set the timer on my Centering Prayer app for 30 minutes and I just sit there silently and practice the art of being “present, open and awake” as my teacher James Finley says.
In a later post I will share some more insight from this powerfully transformational audio teaching journey I’m on with Jim. Trying my best to keep these posts to a shorter length. And it’s about that time for my midday stroll through my barrio to find some food. But trust…Hasta pronto 😉