Sometimes You Need to Draw Inward for However Long You Need
It’s officially spring (at least it is here in the northern hemisphere)! And so I’ve been thinking about seasons and rabbits. (I said it’s spring, right? Hence the rabbits.)
But I’ve also been thinking about meditation. Specifically, I’ve been pondering the fact that we serious meditators share a secret. It’s one that we may be loath to let the world in on. That secret is the pleasure—yes, I mean the bona fide, juicy, luxurious, full-out decadence—of withdrawing from the world, albeit for relatively brief periods at a time.
During those moments, some of us fall inward, while others outward. Some may fall into, while others may fall away from. But, regardless of how and where we’re falling, we’re permissively releasing into a state of being that only we are experiencing in that way in that glorious, silent, solo moment. And, well, it’s truly and completely “all that and a slice of bread.” (Yes, you can make that bread low carb or gluten free. Whatevs.) There’s something magnificent about the experience even when it’s a challenging meditation session.
But, sometimes—perhaps, often times—the duration is insufficient, whether it’s 20 minutes or an hour plus. And, afterwards, we come back to consensual reality—albeit, hopefully, in a calmer and more grounded state. But, still, back we are. And, often, we have a yearning for more. And then more. And then even more. Why? Because that time to ourselves and with ourselves without distractions just simply wasn’t enough.
On occasion, that “more” might be so insistent that we do whatever it takes to literally “steal away” for a retreat of a day, or a weekend, or a week, or even—gasp—a month. (Ironic, isn’t it that we’re actually “stealing” our own time back?)
And, most certainly, we’re even more refreshed and dialed in when we return from our time out. Our outlook is renewed, and the world is brighter and shinier. But soon, often nearly immediately, the realities of that bright and shiny world are once again knocking down the doors of our senses, blowing up our phone, email and social media presences, and generally overwhelming us. It’s as if these demands are making up for “lost” time.
It’s in those moments that we realize that even the retreat time was insufficient. We may guiltily ask: “But, seriously, how can we admit that to ourselves, let alone to others?” That’s especially so if we have children, a significant other, social responsibilities, and the like. But it’s also the case if we’re single and generally solitary creatures much of the time.
And, when we have that realization that we want—no, that we need—more, then we start begrudging the time spent with others in social settings or in doing the things that we “need” to do to be “good communitarians” or “genial and sociable people.” We might even begrudge the time that we spend with those closest to us, who do not, would not, and/or will not understand—and who most certainly would feel hurt or offended by our need, which, by its nature, doesn’t include them.
So we start inventing pretexts for not doing things, going places, or engaging. We even begin bargaining with the Universe for cancellations—like the ones we’re currently experiencing due to COVID-19. We delay responding. We might even “forget” about a commitment from time to time. (I know how the game is played. I also know that I’m not alone in playing it. Neither are you.)
Yet we feel selfish for even harboring this desire and engaging in such minor misdeeds to “buy” ourselves more solo time. We experience guilt. We try to mask. We make excuses. This conduct, in turn, only heightens our sense of selfishness.
And, then, it actually gets worse. (You know exactly where I’m going with this.) Those around us start worrying about us and putting us on guilt trips (intentionally or not) of their own design: “You’re not your usual, outgoing self these days. What’s wrong?” “We don’t see you nearly enough anymore. What are we going to do about that?” “Where have you been hiding yourself? It’s been forever since we did something together.” “Why are you being so stingy with your presence? We love you and want to spend time with you.” “You’re spending far too much time alone, and that’s just not good for you.” “You clearly just need to get out more. Mixing and mingling will do you good.” “Are you depressed? You should see someone about that, but, in the meantime, let’s meet for [fill in the blank].” (Have I missed any? Seriously, I’ve heard them all—frequently.)
We delay responding. We might even “forget” about a commitment from time to time.
As a result, even more guilt sets in, as does resentment. Though that’s only if we cave into the demands. But it doesn’t have to be that way, because we need not cave. We can choose to honor ourselves and our internal process.
While we should, of course, keep an eye toward health, including mental health, allowing ourselves the time and space to fall down our own rabbit hole is not unquestionably unhealthy. Life has seasons. Perhaps, it’s our season of introspection and reflection. Perhaps, it’s our season of diving deep, planting seeds, and watching them sprout. Perhaps, it’s our season of doing the heavy lifting to clear out what no longer serves and make room for possibility. Perhaps, it’s our season of just being—full stop.
And just as wheel of the year can’t skip a season, we should not mask, avoid, or indefinitely delay our seasons. Maybe the time is inopportune or out of synch with those in our circle of life. But, really, in our overtaxed lives, will there truly be an “opportune” time? Maybe the duration of our season is or will be lengthy—lengthier than we—and definitely lengthier than others—would prefer. Still its duration isn’t even a blip in the overall scheme of time. Maybe it causes us—or others—uncertainty because of the tradeoffs, unknowns, or indeterminant (or perceived negative) “ROI.” But isn’t our time our most precious and finite resource? So shouldn’t it be spent in the way we find most meaningful? And this is clearly what our soul is calling out for—loudly.
It’s true: most people won’t understand. Some noses will get out of joint. We’ll miss out on interactions, events, and opportunities. Certainly, the world will move on, as it always does. But what we gain may well be of greater value, even without a tangible ROI.
No, I’m not advocating for irresponsible dereliction of duty or worrisome wandering off into the wilderness without leaving a forwarding address. I am, however, fervently urging recognition of your own needs, courage to firmly (as well as politely and honestly) say “no” to distractions in order to respect your own boundaries, and reallocation of time—your time—to allow you to honor your seasons—especially those that call you inward into quiet and solitude. For it is there that: growth happens; wounds heal; creativity and insights bubble up; inner peace, joy, happiness, knowingness, wisdom, and strength are all found; and, perhaps, most importantly, you learn how to simply be you.
Author Bio: Michele Mekel
Living in Happy Valley, Michele Mekel wears many hats of her choosing: writer, editor, educator, creatrix, metaphysical practitioner, cat herder, and human. Her work has appeared in various publications, and she’s on Instagram @ShaktiEnergy.