“Our deepest knowing is interested in the truth. How things really are. This knowing has no agenda to survive, to fit in, to be admired or to feel better. Its concern is with love, wisdom and integrity and being in service to the whole.” ~John Prendergast
Last week I caught COVID (again), and I went into quarantine from my husband and daughter. As I wheeled my suitcase out of our apartment to go upstairs to the quarantine apartment, Maya (my daughter) says, “I want to go with you on your vacation!” I chuckled to myself. It’s true, as a parent and having mostly minor symptoms, it did feel like a total retreat to be off the hook for caring for a little one for a period of uninterrupted time.
“It’s okay to have a good time,” my husband snuck in these last words, as I headed out the door. I smiled, shyly, like I was getting away with something.
It has been at least six years since I’ve had five-and-a-half whole days to myself. It felt glorious and weird and liberating.
The first few days I had a backlog of emotions that needed this time and space — away from my daily context of life — to fully come up and process. Being alone, and clearing the angst and grief that had been idle inside, I also began to feel into my full energy again; familiar sensations that I faintly recall from going on weeklong retreats before I had my daughter. There was a mixture of loneliness, alignment and aliveness.
What surprised me is that the more I experienced the loneliness that exists deep within me, the more whole and alive I felt. This part of me that may always be there, a depth of being full of richness and complexity— waiting.
I can see how I fill her up by my everyday life with my husband and daughter. Removed from them, I could sense this part of me that stood on her own — exposed, open, wild.
I am taken back by how I use my family to fill this well of loneliness buried inside me. And I’m curious how to give this part of myself more of what is needed for vitality. “How do I even meet this baseline truth in the busyness of daily life?” has been my post-quarantine retreat inquiry.
I have been working on this longing and this connection to myself for so many years — writing about it, thinking about it, moving to a Zen Center to be more connected to “it.” It which is me.
It’s so much easier for me to attune to others or to that which is responsible and practical. Yet, to slow down, soften, and relax into truly listening inward is a skill that does not come naturally to me. I’m learning firsthand this “it” requires surrender, trust, commitment to feeling, and okayness with mystery and uncertainty…
And I see the habitual way in which I’ve brought a rigid thinking to my life that may look conscious; but, can easily be the sneaky ego in disguise turning myself into a self-improvement healing project.
“I just want to stop thinking,” I blurted out to my therapist, as I begin to process this new desire of wanting to rest in being connected to my deepest knowing. This desire to feel more grounded and connected within myself. I’m delighted by this radical shift and readiness in me. And it feels awkward and confusing, as I have been reliant on my well-conditioned primary function of orienting externally — doing and managing and “figuring it out”. And the out being out there, and not in here.
What I’m seeing in this recent shift is wanting to rely less on the strategizing mind and to be open to the uncertainty and aliveness in each moment. To be less drawn to act simply because something sounds like a “good idea” and instead meet the moment with curiosity and questions like, “Does this align with my energy in this moment? Is this what is needed now?”
To check in with my heart, my body, more often. To embody my whole being.
And to feel, feel, feel. To honor all the swirling paradox of human feelings and let them move. And to move — physically more — to ring out this body and mind to allow there to be space for life to unfold.
After returning from the quarantine retreat, I’m finding the courage to claim that having quarterly solo retreats for a few nights are important to cultivate this deeper connection. And to pencil them in the calendar, now, so that this sacred time doesn’t get gobbled up by the momentum of life, parenting and working.
“I read a line the other day I was struck by,” my therapist responded after my comment about not wanting to think, “It read — ‘to be in heaven is a practice.’ It’s a practice, Cat.” I am pondering and playing what a daily practice might look like to commit to deep listening and inner attunement. Having noticed how rigid I can be with thinking about what it “should” look like, I’m giving myself over to the creativity of what may come for connecting to a daily, nourishing practice.
To love and listening and connecting with our deepest inner knowing ❤