The ability to soothe oneself is an important survival skill. We live in socially tense times fraught with jarring occurrences, and we all need to sharpen our self-stabilizing skills to cope with the noise.
The spreading popularity of meditation suggests people are instinctively making themselves feel comfortable in the universe by creating a personal space, a world of their own. Feeling safe to unfurl one’s energy and thoughts also turns out to be a path of joy and discovery. These days, meditation is mainstream and touted as an essential coping tool. It’s also seen as a way “to go to one’s happy place.”
The rise of adult playhouses to retreat to, the “she-sheds” and “man-caves” of Pinterest, is another sign that people recognize the value of their private space for balance. If there’s one situation counselors see people coping with lately, it’s how to achieve a balanced life, and little worlds people create for themselves provide it.
Something both meditating and fooling around in your she-shed have in common is that the alone time has structure to it. Life makes sense and you’re happily engaged trying to meditate to somewhere new in your consciousness, or work on a favorite hobby in your special place.
There is a matrix of underlying beliefs that make life comfortable alone or with others. They can be expressed by age-old declarations such as: “Life is a journey. The only constant is change. Things happen for a reason. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Ask and ye shall receive. If you can dream it and think it, you can create it. To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” The common belief all these principles and laws express is that there’s an order to the universe. It is a responsive environment to create in, with rules that govern it. Therefore, one can get better at navigating life. They can try and make mistakes and learn from them. Their efforts will get a response from the world.
When people believe that things can’t change, that life has no intrinsic meaning, and events are random and chaotic; if they measure their success by perceived judgments and not what they’re learning in their journey through life, a feeling of helplessness dogs them.
It’s natural to feel joy at being alive, just look at a baby exploring the world. Fits of joy appear to be the natural state in all young animals. For most people, we stop having that natural reaction to life when we consider how we’re judged by others. We no longer run around the living room pretending we can fly because “that’s silly.” Perceived judgment leads to shame, and if you are ashamed of yourself it kills your spontaneity and limits your creative impulses.
The people we admire have done a spectacular job of following their own heart, jumping over convention to create a fulfilling and unique life for themselves. One such person is Bob Patrella, a television producer with a photographic memory. He amused himself at the age of 13 by making up a basketball team, the Holland College Golden Knights, and all the details of their lives and connections. He still runs around the living room, enacting spectacular plays and all their games from start to finish in his imagination. Taking part in several 60 Minute specials on memory and what the mind can do, Bob makes the point that 50-plus years in his unusually fleshed-out private world “doesn’t hurt anybody,” keeps him sane and balanced, and makes him happy. A cornerstone in the foundation of his successful life is making his own fun.
The leading American psychic Edgar Cayce is another accomplished eccentric whose daily private practices sustained him through his many ups and downs. Cayce’s history was fraught with personal tragedies and overwhelming challenges, but he never failed to address issues big and small through daily prayer followed by a unique meditation style. Cayce believed that the purpose of prayer was to bring his consciousness to focus on the divine, where his psyche might be affected by a force greater than its own. In prayer he first shared with the divine his sins to be forgiven, the gratitude he felt, the longings of his heart, and then attempted to enter in a state of communion with divine forces. After making that connection, he was ready for meditation, which he saw as a complete emptying of the consciousness to allow natural spiritual forces to enter through channels similar to the chakras, and renew him. The first step was to “quiet the body” by breathing exercises from ancient traditions, but Cayce believed people should do whatever worked best for them: light candles, listen to music, whatever relaxed them. There was no specific purpose to the meditation, just to be empty after priming his consciousness with prayer, and receiving whatever that divine connection brought.
A dire circumstance might force us to consider a message the universe might be sending us. Then, we tend to reach out and pray to or try to commune with whomever or whatever we think is running things. My friend just told me about her profound couple of hours, staring up at the sky on her back, having been bucked off her horse and suffering a lot of broken bones. That time alone became a moment of truth and then a transformational experience: she knew what had to change, and she knew what she wanted. Even the worst time alone can be amazing. Feeling in communication with life itself can happen more easily alone, and that connection also brings joy even in difficult times.
Sometimes the most important moments of our lives, and the most joyful ones, happen when we are alone. Being alone can lead to cosmic insights or a transformational experience. There are also the daily moments where we feel glad for no really big reason, glad to be alone with our thoughts and projects in our own space. Glad to be reading our Kindle or watching TV or petting the dog. Then, we naturally are practicing what is seen these days as essential in the development of a spiritual life: a practice of gratitude. A certain kind of joy that just happens alone; a happy feeling, perhaps a spontaneous return to what looks to be our natural state, judging from the babies and how they like to play.
Elissa Heyman practices psychic counseling and healing in Santa Fe.This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead