Self Isolation Perspective

I have been in isolation since I left my job 14 days ago (not including today). Yesterday, my employer extended the pay period to May 3. So I still have 31 precious days. My isolation is in a rhythm. I speak occasionally to store clerks and I nod hello to people on the trail. An occasional text. Conversations are very few, maybe 3 in the past 14 days. Despite these pandemic times, I enter the silence of isolation with a quiet mind and the ability to maintain inner peace. This quiet mind stands out as a difference from other times when I have been unemployed. The occasional intrusion of bad news or frightening headlines gets fed into the stream of well being, which flows quietly through me, and I watch it float away.

I\’ve wanted to be a hermit for a long time, since I learned about solitaries in the monastery. Right now is the first time in 61 years that I have achieved such emptiness as I have now. I don\’t need to worry about getting a job. I\’m not going to class. There are no AA meetings. An empty life. I am coming to see how I am in my natural state, outside of societal programming or interaction.

I like sleeping, morning coffee, the view from my kitchen table, the apple blossoms popping out, the forests in which I walk or jog , lifting weights, eating well and little, spiritual reading with meditation and writing.

I learned a new word today: elision. Elision is a deletion, like elision of my social life. Does this leave me with only my soul for company? Yes, I think. My ego doesn\’t really have any plans or things to compete for or people to push against. And I feel at peace with that, surprisingly enough. My ego has little to say.

I\’ve wondered if I should impose some more aggressive schedule on myself. So far, I\’ve let the natural rhythms exist.My ego wants a schedule to show that I\’m not wasting my life by merely existing. Using my isolation to merely exist, to commune only with my soul, cannot be shown to be productive.

I\’ve always wanted to know the value of \”just being,\” mere existence. What does it mean to be human if you are not engaged but isolated? Does my life only mean something if I achieved worldly notoriety?

I am uplifted and inspired by this intense focus this morning on communion with my soul. I sometimes call my soul the Christ within, even though the word Christ comes with a lot of religious baggage. The word Christ within came to me from contemplatives of times past. I allow the Christ within to be free of religion and just represent the inner truth of my human soul. I feel thrilled by this open door to my inner being.

Silence in My Mind

When in doubt, just be quiet.

Want to know God? Just be quiet.

Want some thoughts different from those you see in others? Seek silence and solitude. Divorce society\’s masses of busyness and cacophonies of chatter. I relish this aspect of silence and solitude. Even while I spend my time running or working out, it is with my own thoughts. I so cherish the emptying of my mind from the contamination of worldly noise. For example, I haven\’t watched TV in over 10 years so I don\’t have any new jingles or images corrupting my thinking. My thoughts are in real time: whats happening in my own experience, not any fabrication from society.

From ACIM text ch 11: The witnesses for God stand in His Light and behold what He created. Their silence is the sign that they have beheld God\’s Son, and in the Presence of Christ they need demonstrate nothing, for Christ speaks to them of Himself and of His Father. They are silent because Christ speaks to them, and it is His words they speak.

If I want to see God in you, I think I need to see the silence in you. It is there. Silence is the higher order being, not exactly seen or heard with the human body. I am much happier when I am seeing the silent you rather than seeing the physical you.

I live in a mostly uninspiring location. Looking out the window of my office, I see a power plant coal pile. Outside the window of my apartment is a parking lot. But going within, I see eternity.

Just sitting alone in silence is the ultimate experience of my life. Quiet is the highest I can go.

I keep track of my food and exercise on livestrong.com. One of the features is a rolling mileage total for the past week. For February at least, my rolling total has been between 75 and 81 miles a week. That is a lot of running.

Solitary Running – Deeper

Today\’s lesson from A Course in Miracles said (in part), \”If I so choose, I can depart this world entirely. It is not death which makes this possible, but it is change of mind about the purpose of the world. If I believe it has a value as I see it now, so will it still remain for me. But if I see no value in the world as I behold it, nothing that I want to keep as mine or search for as a goal, it will depart from me. For I have not sought for illusions to replace the truth… What need have I to linger in a place of vain desires and of shattered dreams, when Heaven can so easily be mine?\”

So if I have thoughts like these, is it any wonder I let go of all things ego? Jesus said (in the Bible) his kingdom was not of this world. He said to lose your life to save it. I think Jesus meant to change your mind. ACIM teaches me how to change my mind.

Part of my solitary running is changing my mind about the purpose of running. I am changing running from racing and performance, to transcendence. Thus, the ego cannot have my running any longer.

Today, I went out running with the idea of endurance; that is to just go along at low impact for awhile. I decided to do 9x1s in order to go easy on my legs. I stayed only 4h07 min, or about 20 miles. I have time. I spend my time on this.

I jogged along nodding hi to the various other people using the trail. A key point was suddenly understood. If I have no special relationships, neither special love relationships or special hate relationships, then I can view creation as a unity. The unity is God and all of the people are God\’s Son. If I have not singled out any individuals for specialness, then I also have not projected any of my own dark thoughts. I can love all equally and everything is one continuum of God.

An extension of the idea of taking running away from ego: when I do an endurance event by myself, it is totally up to me to like it or not. Since it was not an official race, no one will care whether I did it. No one will cheer. No one will congratulate me for a 50 mile run done by myself. Even if I did tell someone, they would not react the same as if I had done it at a race. Running done in private has no ego reward.

But really, what does it matter to me? Next Saturday, there is a 50 mile race. I can enter the race on line, pay an entry fee, drive 2 hours to the race, wait around because I got there early, run 50 miles, drive the two hours home. Why not skip all that and just run the 50 miles from home? Because we want something from the outside world in return for what we do.

Bottom line: run 50 if you want. Don\’t ask for awards or acclaim. Do it for yourself, period.

I felt all morning that I wanted to plan a day where I did go more than 6 hours by myself. I want to try it.

Addition: When you live as a solitary, you have no atta boy pats on the head encouraging feedback from the world. You are no longer living your life as an actor on a stage.

Confessions of a Solitary

It has been about 9 months since I chose solitude intentionally. Before that, I lived in a small town and thought my solitude was a function of where I lived. But, when I moved into the city a year ago, I moved near to social groups where I was held in esteem and could have taken up my old positions. But I realized I no longer wanted to play my part; and so I quit.

Now, I am not involved in any of the stuff that most people claim makes life meaningful. I truly think life is meaningless; a meaningless bad dream. The activites that others think are so meaningful seem like self importance to me. Even love appears like an elaborate control scheme.

What I am doing here is killing time. I earn money for food and kill time. Running and weight lifting are killing time.

The most meaningful part of my life is when I shut down my brain, shut my eyes, and just be.

Under De-Struction

What happened to this blog?

Excuse: work has been busy and taking up all my creative thoughts.

There are one or two things that have been occupying my mind but I haven\’t come out of the closet to talk about them. One concerns my attendance at 12 Step meetings.

Before Christmas I quit going to these meetings. Then, I realized I really like doing my long weekend runs when I want to do them; instead of working them around meeting times. Then, after not going for a few weeks, I realized that my mind was much more peaceful without the meetings.

A little history here. I went to meetings very regularly for the first 14 years of my sobriety. Then I moved to a monastery and didn\’t go to any for 5 years; including my first year out of the monastery when I had 3 jobs and no desire to go. Then I got a day job and had time for meetings, so I started going again. Then I moved to the country and only went to one meeting a week because it was a 50 mile drive (I was coming to town for groceries anyway). So, a few months ago when I moved back to town, I intended to re-integrate back into the group. But I found that I had been away too long and could no longer relate to the people. I wasn\’t living on the same page. I had to filter everything I said into a language they would understand. I realized that I didn\’t like the meetings. I used to like the meetings 11 years ago; but not now. I don’t need meetings for myself and haven’t for ten or more years.

But quitting meetings means going against the 12 Step dogmatic precepts: the dogma that if you don’t go to meetings you’ll drink again. Truly however, the 12 Steps are a spiritual program of action which I continuously work at far more than the people who preach about going to meetings. I find that quitting meetings has brought space into my life and additional silence which is being used to spiritually change my perceptions of the world. For that I am grateful; but it is a work in progress. So I called this blog: De-Struction.

I am fascinated and in marvel at the flip side of the coin of not going to meetings: wow! I am a solitary and I like it. I like silence. It fascinates me that I spend all weekend alone except for a store clerk or two. I have no \”difficult\” relationships. I have arrived at solitude. A little history here: about 18 months before going to the monastery, I was in a period of unemployment. Right then, I read about a man who spend a year alone in a room, meditating. I was intrigued by the idea. The story led me to learn about and start practicing silent meditation, zazen or contemplation (whatever you want to call it). Contemplation led me to the monastery. The religious order which billed itself as contemplative was actually far more interested in building a cenobitic community than contemplation so it is a good thing I am not longer there. But I did learn a great deal about the desert experience, the eremitic life and silence during my 4 years as a nun. When I moved to the country, I made absolutely no effort to make friends and lived in silence except for work and the one meeting a week. Work has never been a social burden for me because I am a woman engineer doing analytical work amongst a bunch of guys. I never talk to them except about work.

So I can see how I have taken myself out of society in many ways: no TV, no family, long distance runner, natural vegan diet, student of a non-denominational theology. Looking at the history of how I learned about the spirituality of quiet, combined with my lifelong quest for God, and it finally makes sense that I embrace solitude. Only now am I owning solitude as a personal choice, not just an accident. I am perfectly capable of joining groups and being a friend; but I am more true to myself to let all that go. It takes courage for me to walk in these shoes openly. I\’ve been a closet solitary so as to avoid any opinions. But I have felt so gifted the past few weeks that I wanted to openly acknowledge my lifestyle choice. I’m coming out!

Poem of the Solitary Runner

A silent athlete in a silent world.
A muscle twitches, hardens, tightens, holds and lets go.
No one knows.
The count goes to 15; 15….15.
Tighten the laces.
Foot fall after foot fall on the wet pavement.
The swish of nylon plus husky wet breaths.
I can’t see. Slashing arms grip air. I get by.
Another lap, another hill, one more time.
Raw.
I don’t know why I am out here doing this.
Stamina, endurance, endlessness, driven by madness.
Energy unchanneled, lavishly expended, flung uselessly.
For nothing.

A cocoon of core. A cocoon of distance.
A funeral pyre of objectivity.
Rising, emerging, a chi floating on new fallen snow.
Through the silent woods. Footfall after footfall. I’ve forgotten what was.
I’ve been freed of who was.
Eternal presence, quietly alone.
Nothing, nobody.
Free.
Identity crucified by the endless distance and north wind.
Mystery strides forth coated in sweat.
Power shrugged at.
Another lap, another hill, one more time.
Solitary, mindful, obstinate unbelief, persevering belief.
Nothing to say, a sneer unsubsumed.
Uncalled for arrogance, prostrate, gasping.
Pushing, pushed.
Sacred, holy, an eruption of thought unbridled.
Love unchecked, let go, sprinting.
Phenomenon whispered by the sunlight.
Sheer awareness.
Alone, unlimited, annihilation of identity.
Unqualified existence, being untwisted.

A snowflake soon melted. Silence continues.

Solitude Explained

I am a solitary because I want time. I want time for spirituality and running. I say “solitary” because I have disengaged from society and individual relationships. As a result of sitting in long periods of silence and inactivity, facing my ego’s negativity, and exposing myself directly to spiritual intervention, my attitudes, ideas and opinions are differentiated from society; and becoming integrated with “something else” I call the COMPANION.

I want to live in deep embrace and partnership, one consciousness with the COMPANION. I have wanted this since I was 22. Seeking the oneness is why I’ve done everything else: daily spiritual study (for all those years), learned silent sitting, integrated running into the meditation, used wholistic food and fasting to attune my body to the COMPANION’s vibration pattern, disengaged from society (TV, entertainment, holidays, religion, politics, 12 Step groups, etc.), daily reflection and discussion with the COMPANION.

Ten years ago, I was removed from society totally by going to live in a monastic cloister, for almost 4 years. A Benedictine contemplative community is a group exercise, not solitude; but it does disconnect one from ordinary life.

Five years ago, I became a solitary by default as I lived and worked in the country. I was intentional about solitude and contemplation by this time. Alone for long periods of time, I had to consciously process guilt, hate, anger, shame and fear; or go back to society and avoid these emotions by being busy. Everybody has these but they are usually covered with busyness. We don\’t recognize that the routine frustrations are evidence of a mountain of hate lying just below the surface of consciousness. Solitude gives you knowledge of that mountain of negative ego emotion.

When you have stayed in solitude and processed the ego emotions for long enough, you become mentally different than the people who never did it; inhabiting a different world as it were. After some time of processing, it becomes impossible to go back. My worst problem with solitude is realizing that I am unable to rejoin society and no one wants for follow me into true embrace with the COMPANION. I’ve had people question why anyone would want to give up their life like this.

So, given the situation, I must find the COMPANION and fully enter His consciousness. To fully embrace and engage a spiritual life and spiritual world, I must fully let go of the ego world and ego emotions and any hope of finding satisfaction in anything other than the COMPANION. The COMPANION is with me always, but I must turn to Him and listen to His Voice; instead of looking back at society and listening to ego.

The COMPANION heals my guilt, hate, anger, shame and fear; if I give it to Him. I begin to live in a world of peace, joy and love, God’s reality. This new world is freedom from ego and reception of God’s gifts. My function becomes a) being an icon of God’s reality, b) projecting God’s reality and c) mirroring God’s reality.

The COMPANION has more to teach me. I am now an urban solitary, beginning a life of acceptance and faith in the COMPANION alone. My journey is still one of emptiness, inactivity and letting go of ego emotions.

Everyone has a path to oneness with the COMPANION. The COMPANION does not belong to me. Everyone walks their path and does their own work, whether they know it or not. The way out of the ego world is much quicker for those who intentionally engage in their process.

This morning, I got up at 6, did spiritual study for an hour (including writing this), cleaned the house, and sat down to type what I wrote. Now, I think it is almost time for running.

A Summer of Waiting

Not for the phone to ring but waiting for God. That sounds so medieval or pious or pathetic; waiting for the Lord.

I have been running, reading, meditating, going to fellowship meetings, studying spirituality, doing chores, writing and applying for jobs. I have been silently in solitude; reflecting, listening, pondering, and plumbing the depths of my soul. One of my journal entries from the first year of my novitiate expresses a desire to have the life I have had this summer.

Make no mistake; I came here for a relationship with God and nothing else. The lack of evidence that anything has happened or changed causes my ego no end of agitation. I have not met any performance goals. I’ve been spending time; spending it like a billionaire. My abundance is time and I’ve been spending it.

I have been waiting without distraction; no TV, no vacations. I haven\’t left my hermitage for more than a few hours. Is there any point in a life of waiting? What if my vocation and ministry are simply waiting? That sound horrible doesn’t it? There is no way to make this type of solitude sound glamorous. There is no way to attract anyone to the life. I have no teaching. I haven’t written a Holy Rule; and I haven’t followed one. No promises of everlasting life from this corner.

I say all this because I am dismayed. I used to have a balloon full of hot air. Now it seems to have deflated. I accept the endlessness of my anonymous situation. I used to try to practice all the Church spiritual and monastic practices because a bunch of books said to do it. I wasn’t in a monastery so I couldn’t be a properly recognized monk or solitary. But I tried hard to do the practices so at least I could assure myself I was ok even if unofficial.

Now, I think I have been faithful to His Will and the path I’ve been called to. I am on the path which will lead me to God. Just keep waiting. Waiting is my method of enlightenment. The only challenge is to keep the brain silent and peaceful all the time.

God is Love

If you believe God kicked us out of paradise, then how can you believe God is love? If you believe God needed us to kill His Son in order to buy our innocence, then how can you believe God is love? What do I think love is? Wouldn\’t this God be something to fear? Wouldn\’t love be frightening? Stop and think!

My own reflection this morning: If God is love, and I\’ve stopped to ponder my meaning of the word love, then any cruelty or disease cannot be of God. Since I am a creature of God, I must be love too. Love could only beget love. Therefore if I perceive cruelty or disease, it must be an error of perception and thinking on my part. It must be a delusion and I am insane. I take it back to myself. I take responsibility for my insanity, my delusion; and with utter trust and reliance on Love as the only truth, I deny reality to my delusion. I stand defenseless because I\’ve decided that love is the only thing that could exist. To say it again: If God is love, cruelty and disease could not exist. They could not be true, but merely my delusion.

Get this: even though I perceive cruelty and disease all around me, I\’ve decided to deny it reality and instead believe God is love and only love could really exist. And then, I walk out into the world; knowing I am blind to love, trusting it is there. Woah…isn\’t that like stepping off a cliff? No…there is no cliff. (I\’ve been thinking about this for awhile and it has taken me some time to conclude God is love and to trust Love, not my eyes.)

I accept my insanity and ask the God of Love for help. I stop blaming God for evil. If I blame God for evil, how could He help me? I ponder the reality of a God of Love. I do not corrupt love with suppositions for how evil could exist. I accept that only love exists and anything else must be my insanity. A God of Love could and would restore me to sanity. I so rarely come to believe I must be insane and ask for help. An insane person cannot heal themselves. Therefore to reach the realization of insanity means I must have been healed and received the help I needed. I must now believe in love and only that. My willingness to take back my delusion and rely on Love is a messenger thought. I listen to the messenger and accept what it says: I must believe God is love. I am safe.

How can an insane person exist as a creation of God; except to say, \”I chose this instead of love. I\’ve forgotten exactly why, but now I want love.\”

Personal statistics: Today is the second day in a row I rode my bicycle to work early in the morning and will ride it home and back at lunch. It sounds pretty small but not driving the 10 miles a day for two trips to work creates for me a different reality. I live in a twilight zone, a parallel reality, the realm of the spirit. To get here, I worked spiritually, but I also stopped participating in the mainstream and made other choices. Like: I don\’t watch TV. I don\’t eat meat, preservatives or processed food. I am athletic. I\’m not involved in family or church. I don\’t dress up in status clothing, make-up or hair-do. I don\’t invest like everyone else. I do study philosophies which are not approved of. I get up at 3 in the morning. I don\’t smoke or drink. Other stuff….and now…I ride a bicycle. This morning, riding to work at 5:45, I noticed about four other people out walking. My twilight reality includes people walking but not anyone in cars. Interesting!

143 days to Heartland, Spirit of the Prairie. Personal multi-days begin on Thursday. I get to see Sr Priscilla and Friday and take her to lunch in the \”big house.\”

In my solitary twilight zone, I stopped listening to the mainstream and cleared out my thinking for something else: God.

Lent 7 – A difficult emotional day

Solitude is my primary spiritual practice. I am crazy for choosing such an emotionally difficult path. In solitude, all my negative feelings make themselves heard. I am not doing anything to drown them out or run away.

It seems somewhat strange that I am on this path. People like me. When I make the effort, I am a good friend and a good group member. Before I went to the monastery, I never questioned this. I accepted my place as a well respected person. The first two years after leaving the monastery, I molded myself back into the parish community. They liked me and my contribution; but I slowly realized that it was false to me. I lost interest in the doings of the world. In the monastery, I had learned about solitude and I knew I wanted to go and find whatever I could. I am willing to fight desert demons as long as St Anthony, even; for What I am looking for is that desired.

My huge problem seems to be that I am very interested in the abstract content of God, spiritual relationship and emotion. I am no longer interested in the ritual forms or catechetical forms. The abstract makes perfect sense to a physicist, but not to a humanist. My humanist side diminishes as I walk the path of solitude because I see that “problems” are not real, but emotional fabrications. My ability to converse diminishes because the abstract is unknown territory for most people (want to discuss the Fourier Transform of Joy with me?). The humanist interest in forms is cozy and familiar and unending. Illusion is the territory of most human dramas. People move from problem to problem to problem thinking that is life, and not considering shutting off their illusion projector. I don’t do the human social dance. I am disconnected from society and doing everything in my power to widen the gap. No wonder I think I am despicable: I just don’t cooperate unless I have to. My actions go against every teaching I can think of.

There is a very good reason for the pursuit of solitude. When I figure out how to say it, I’ll explain. For now, it is ineffable, unspeakable, mysterious….ummm…That, the Who of All which won’t put Itself into words, being only describable as Word, Logos, Christ.

Personal statistics: I ran 6.5 miles after work. 2 days until high speed internet arrives at my home. I\’ve been raw for 14 days. I ate seaweed and grated zuccini and a whole honey dew melon for supper. I did the laundry and vacuumed the floors. Snow is still on the ground.