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  • Writer's pictureKendra Goheen

A Practice Of Solitude

“When solitude was a problem, I had no solitude. When it ceased to be a problem I found I already possessed it, and could have possessed it all a long.” – Thomas Merton

A couple of weekends ago, I was in class in the mountains of North Carolina, and we watched a lovely documentary on the life of Thomas Merton (1915-1968), arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. He was also a mystic and student of comparative religion.

Merton was and still continues to be one of the most inspiring teachers of meditation and prayer.

He emphasized that “grace builds on nature, and we can profit by spiritual direction if we can develop our natural simplicity, sincerity, and forthright spiritual honesty, in a word to ‘be ourselves’ in the best sense of the expression.”

What I have learned from my personal meditation practice is that it cannot be learned from a book. You just have to meditate. Just begin. We can agree that a few hints* at the right time and in the right words may make a great deal of difference for you to muster the discipline needed to become successful.

There is no bypassing stillness or even a dark night of the soul experience when we truly want to understand ourselves. To live a grace-filled life, this solitude needs to be a disciplined routine of your own choosing and not a routine mechanically imposed by the outside.

To fully embody a life that is aligned – spirit, mind, and health – is to feed all aspects of your spirit through solitude. It will bring clarity to your true nature – your truest and highest expression of self.

“Know thyself and thine self be true.” – William Shakespeare

With Love and Peace to you,

*Hints to begin simply

The first step is to create a space in your day for solitude. Schedule it and show up. Start slowly – 8 minutes is all you need. Then do whatever moves you: read from a daily devotional, light a candle and say a prayer of gratitude, play beautiful music, and sit with awareness of breath. Slow the pace of your day for 8 minutes; allow your shoulders to relax.

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