Date Yourself Day: Creating Intentional Solitude

It’s difficult sometimes to make time for myself. My environment constantly needs things from me. Relationships take a lot of energy, they require constant cultivation. I have family and friends in another country, a boyfriend and friends in Seattle, I have a dog that could always use more exercise, a full time job with an hour and a half commute every day, and a supposed-to-be daily yoga practice. Every day is overwhelming full, with people and events pulling me in twenty different directions. And I don’t even have kids.

So, when I do decide to take time for myself, it’s hard not to feel guilty about it. I haven’t spoken to my mum in months, I should organise a Skype with her. Sunny hasn’t been outside today, I should take him to the dog park, or I haven’t seen the girls in a week, I should really see what everyone is doing today.  But the truth is, although that guilt is very real, my mum doesn’t care, Sunny can wait, and the girls are all completely fine without me. And even if that wasn’t the case, it’s just as important for me to take for myself, as it is to please everyone around me. But that’s not the issue, the issue is although I love solitude, sometimes there’s something inside me that resists it.

The world of solitude can sometimes feel like solitary confinement. Sometimes it feels forced and uncomfortable and painful. Sometimes there’s an anxious energy I can’t seem to shake, so I reach for my phone to check Facebook; or sometimes I get bored quickly and my mind starts to go crazy; sometimes I miss my boyfriend and I wonder why I’d choose to spend time without him when we have enough time a part as it is. The different emotional states that arise when I’m alone and undistracted, are the same emotional states that manifest in day-to-day life, but are quickly repressed because of a need to ‘get on with it.’  Spending time without distractions simply allows these things to come up.

Sometimes what comes up for me is an overwhelming amount of creative energy, so I’ll write or paint or draw. Sometimes it’s sadness, and I’ll cry. Sometimes it’s a deep, mellow, insightful state when I just want to think, think, think, and try and figure out the world. Sometimes I’ll spend an hour with my head in the clouds, day dreaming.

Intentional solitude is about creating a relationship with yourself, it’s about learning what’s going on in your inner world.  A full day of intentional solitude can be overwhelming, so to ease myself into it, I started doing “Date Yourself Day.” Date Yourself Day is a mix of intentional solitude and mindful activities that promote a relationship with, and love for yourself.  My Date Yourself Day goes a little like this:

Yoga Practice – For mindful exercise
Coffee/Tea – Create space for day dreaming
Journaling – I ask myself a series of questions about what’s going on in my inner world
Reading – Something which looks beyond binary logic, like poetry or a spiritual/philosophical text
Spa/Sauna session – Massage and heat are always healing and relaxing for me
Shopping – This can sometimes be a meditation, though very easily can be a distraction!

I leave my phone at home, and I’m going to experiment with both planning my day, and going off how I feel in each moment.  The purpose is to get to know what’s going on in my inner world, so feeling is key. Notice when you start to feel bored or anxious and have a list of things you can do next, but sit with whatever comes up, don’t repress it. The point is to use the day to get that negative stuff out, so expect to feel shitty at some point.

I’m going to make this a monthly practice and spoil myself. If you have any ideas for other activities you think would be perfect for a Date Yourself Day, please let me know in the comments, because I have eleven more days this year to fill!

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