close to the Celestial City,
From mountain to mountain
extending to the sea.
When contemplated, the white clouds
add up to no more than one;
When pierced, the green rays
suddenly fade out.
Crowned with heavenly bodies,
the central peak turns;
Encompassing yin and yang,
the valleys roll.
Go down and find shelter for the night:
Above the stream there,
let’s have a chat with the woodcutter.
by Wang Wei published in In Love with the Way: Chinese Poems of the Tang Dynasty
One of the ways that I practice self-care is to spend time in solitude. Now I am introverted at heart although I really do enjoy socializing with people in moderate doses. During times of great stress I retreat within myself to recharge my batteries. Earlier today I turned on my answering machine to filter my calls, unplugged from all forms of technology, and made a commitment to myself to have a few hours of quiet.
Quiet hours are spent reading, writing or journaling, painting, taking a long walk, meditating or listening to music quietly. The poem I quoted above was read earlier today along with the first two chapters of Awakening the Buddha Within. My solitude is something that I have to guard carefully as not everyone is always respectful of boundaries. Fortunately, most of those who are in my life at present can recognize that solitude is something that I need from time to time to keep myself well.
Over the years I have learned that it’s important to balance socialization with solitude. For each person that internal balance is a little bit different as some feel recharged after they spend time with other socially. I find myself quite contented with my own company for lengthy periods of time.
Introversion is not celebrated or valued in the Western world. Eastern philosophies, like Buddhism, value solitude as it is important to practices like meditation. Introspection does have a value as the insight from times of solitude can be used for innovation, ideas, and creative problem-solving. It’s a quality of my personality that was judged by others while I was growing up, but that I came to value as I became an adult.
Meditation is a practice that is helping me to maintain my sanity as my healing progresses, and as I deal with the stressors in my life at present. Faith and following a practical spiritual practice do help a great deal in working towards recovery as well as coping with life itself. As you learn your own inner landscape you find all the wisdom that you need to do what needs to be done, or to make the choice to just be for a while.