Getting comfortable spending time alone
Lena Dunham is an actor, writer, producer, and director of the HBO series “Girls.”
She comments about solitude in her life:
“I learned what I really loved doing by not having a ton of friends.
“I spent a whole semester in college just knitting and watching old VHS tapes, and I consider it one of the happiest times in my life because I had a chance to connect to my passions and who I really am.”
She adds, “I am advocating getting comfortable spending time alone.
“I have some friends who have plans every minute, and when they don’t, they feel lost and confused.
“When someone cancels on me, I feel like I’ve found $1,000 in my pocket.”
From post: Lena Dunham on Being a Loner, by Jennifer Merritt, InStyle June 18, 2016.
[Photo (May 30, 2016) – her caption: “Memorial Day hang with my girl gang” – from facebook.com/lenadunham.]
video: ASK LENA #5: Insecure writer
Her book: Not That Kind of Girl.
Solitude can help nurture creative thinking
Many people may find solitude unappealing, even threatening in various ways, such as uncovering or emphasizing our insecurities.
But solitude can help us engage with our shadow self and reveal creative ideas.
May Sarton wrote in one of her poems about the power of solitude and our shadow side:
“I can tell you that solitude
Is not all exaltation, inner space
Where the soul breathes and work can be done
Solitude exposes the nerve
Raises up ghosts.
The past, never at rest, flows through it.”
Author and teacher Mark Matousek writes about the challenges and rewards of solitude, and refers to Sarton’s “fantastic book” Journal of a Solitude that includes this poem.
He comments that she “reminds us that solitude may be indispensable but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.”
Matousek goes on to write that solitude “always includes the shadow, the part of ourselves that we run from, the places that scare us, the demons, the ghouls.
“That’s why solitude can be so intimidating.
“Unless we learn to engage with it, we cannot begin to awaken. We can’t be enriched by our darkness; nor can we integrate what lies below the surface with the flow of our day-to-day life.
Avoiding the shadow of solitude, we avoid our essence and our core.
“All things that grow begin in darkness.
“Seeds find nourishment in the dark. All the things that matter most — creativity, love, inspiration, deep work, and spiritual awakening, require the dark earth of solitude to take root. And this practice can be cultivated.”
He finds that the challenges of solitude “are identical to those of spiritual practice: locating balance inside us; getting comfortable in our own skins; becoming intimate with our own minds; laying claim to that power that flows through us when we touch center.”
From his post The Power of Solitude.
Creative excellence through self-inquiry and life writing
A profile by The Shift Network notes:
Mark Matousek “is a bestselling author, teacher and speaker whose work focuses on personal awakening and creative excellence through self-inquiry and life writing.”
Learn more about his teachings in free recordings from his webinar:
The webinar signup page asks:
“Would you like to discover deeper truths about who you are and what’s possible for your life?
“You may be surprised to hear that your personal writings can be a powerful spiritual practice that frees you from stuck energies, old ideas, and stagnant visions…”
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video: The Psychology of Solitude: Being Alone Can Maximize Productivity, with Scott Barry Kaufman
From the Big Think description:
“The silence and easy concentration that accompanies solitude is a gateway to living a deeper, more meaningful life, says Kaufman.
“And contrary to popular misconception, enjoying being alone does not make one a misanthrope.”
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport.
Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire.
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The shadow self and creativity
Matousek also notes:
“Until you penetrate your own shadow, and explore the gifts, as well as the shame, that you hide there — you cannot truly know yourself or access your deep creativity.”
Author and teacher Natalie Goldberg agrees:
“Writing practice brings you below the surface to really meet what you see, think and feel.”
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Musician Ani DiFranco produced her album, “Educated Guess,” entirely on her own.
An interviewer asked, “Your approach, your energy on the current tour and on the new album seem different. Why is that?”
DiFranco: “The difference is solitude. I have it in my life now, and I didn’t for years, at all… now I’m alone on stage, it’s been like a year and a half, and I’m alone in my dressing room and I’m alone in my home.
“And there’s just a lot less people around. So it allows for more contemplation.”
From my post Nurturing creativity in solitude.
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In his post “Black Swan” and the Recovery of the Shadow Self, Joseph Burgo PhD comments about the success of this movie in depicting how an artist (ballerina Nina, played by Natalie Portman) learns from engaging with her shadow self, and gaining more self-awareness and power to express her creative self:
“Only by embracing her passionate sexuality, jealousy and murderous feelings of rage can Nina grow into her role as the black swan, becoming a whole and independent woman in the process…
“The film accurately portrays states of mind and psychological reality in a way rarely seen.”
The clouds photo is from cover of book: Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert A. Johnson.
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Mark Matousek presented an online course through the Shift Network: Writing to Heal.
The site described it as “A 9-Month Journey of Self-Discovery and Empowerment.”
Also from the course description:
“But the truth is we all have wounds. They are part of the human condition.
“And they can manifest in many ways — your insecurities, your limiting beliefs, your challenged relationships or issues with anxiety and depression.
“Not only do we all have wounds, but we also have aspects to our identities that are lived out in the shadow. And yet, these forbidden parts contain essential elements of our true nature.
“They hold wisdom, energy, creativity and power — and need to be brought into the light so we can be free and whole.
“Actors often prefer to play dark, complex or tortured characters because there is more juice, aliveness and liberation that comes when they give these shadow parts a voice.
“But how do you make this journey into your personal wounds, secrets and shadows safe? And how do you not get stuck in old stories or loops but genuinely free yourself?”
Learn about his other courses and books at his site:
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