Thursday, February 16, 2012

Finding the Essence of Ourselves

"But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves."
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Gift from the Sea

Priceless Friend,

You are a gem, do you know that? But if you're anything like me, you forget to treat yourself as the jewel you are sometimes, right?

I certainly do. I can be prone to over-busyness, pushing to get things done, and maxing myself out in the process.

Do I know better? Of course!

There is a forgetting that happens in the commotion of everyday life. We forget to take it slow. We forget how important it is to rest, to take time in beauty, in solitude and silence. We forget how much we need that to be well--to feel sane in what feels like a crazy world. 

And when we do step away from the busyness of life, even for a day, we feel like an entirely new woman, don't we?  

We remember who we really are: we are a jewel who needs and deserves care, love and attention.

The very best way I know how to "deliver me back to my Self" in this way is to get away. To retreat.
I am a huge fan of retreat and of Anne Morrow Lindbergh who wrote her book, Gift from the Sea, while on her yearly retreat on Captiva Island. For two weeks, Anne walked the beaches of the Gulf alone, gathered shells, and allowed them to speak to her. At her rustic wooden kitchen table, she wrote about what the shells told her; about how to live once she returned to her busy life in New England. On retreat, she created "island time:" time to rest and restored herself, to be an island unto herself ... 

Anne wrote:

"What is the answer? There is no easy answer, no complete answer. I have only clues, shells from the sea. The bare beauty of the channeled whelk tells me that one answer, and perhaps a first step, is in simplification of life, in cutting out some distractions. But how? Total retirement is not possible, I cannot shed my responsibilities. I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be. The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return."

I re-read Gift from the Sea every year about this time. Why? It's brings me back to center. I've had a very busy Fall season of teaching, and then the holidays, then the launch of a Winter teaching schedule, and, truthfully, I start to feel a little weary. Reading it helps me remember what I must do to be well and happy.

It also reminds me to create "island time." Time away from the world, my family, obligations. Time to be with me--all alone; to reconnect with my spirit, my essence.

This year I can't go to Captiva and walk in Anne's footsteps, but I can set aside one day (or two!) to retreat with and for myself in the comfort of my own home.

And you can too. In fact, we can do this together. Ahhhhh ... Retreating with friends, how lovely. I am sure Anne will be here in spirit with us as we do.

I've chosen my Annual Online Retreat Weekend and I hope you will join me. 

It's March 24 OR 25. You pick your day.

It is "guided retreat" around this theme:

"Cultivating Your Heart of Compassion."
Together, with women from all over the globe, we'll be engaging in "Metta--Lovingkindness Practice." We'll rest, eat mindfully, walk leisurely, have short periods of meditation and reflection, and "re-member ourselves" with gentleness and kindness. We'll do this in our own homes with the help of the internet.

We'll be like Anne and create special island time for ourselves. I can hardly wait! 

Registration has begun.

I look forward to strolling the island of your true self with you. Let's find some treasures shall we?
And please share news of this retreat with someone you love. It's always fun to retreat with a friend!

"Solitude, says the moon shell. Center-down say the Quaker saints. To the possession of the self the way is inward, says Plotinus. The cell of self-knowledge is the stall in which the pilgrim must be born, says St. Catherine of Sienna." 
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea


Barbara Jean said...

I read Anne Morrow's book many years ago and found it very inspiring, but I have yet to find a way to live in "the peace that surpasses understanding". I must try rereading her book and discover what gems I might find now; twenty + years later.

Laura said...

beautiful Jan... in alignment with my post today too:-)

mermaid said...

Ah, the seashells you give to others because you take time to hear the song of the sea within.

May this retreat and the ones you create for yourself nourish women and you.

Janice Lynne Lundy said...

Hello! I never fail to find Anne's words inspiring, no matter how many times I read them. :-) I am glad you are on a path to finding peace that lasts.... that is the key: a peace that is deeply rooted within us, a core practice of our daily life, which in time, becomes our lifestyle and our way of viewing the world.

I love it when we are in alignment, friend!

I always love and appreciate your imagery of the sea and shells. It IS important to hear the song of the sea within. I take that beautiful phrase into my heart today. Thank you!

The retreat was very nourishing for all of us. :-)

Stacy @ Sweet Sky said...

Hi Jan,
I just came over from Laura at Shine the Divine! Hello!!

And it's such wonderful synchronicity to be here. I had an inspiration to dedicate my practice this year to the four divine abodes, and I have been doing Lovingkindness practice since January. I will be away on retreat that weekend in March -- at a brahma-viharas retreat! -- but I am thinking of signing up with your class, too, so I can have access to the materials you plan to share. I would love to learn and deepen my practice in that way.

I wrote about my "year of love" here: