24 hours of Sacred Idleness

Yesterday, after my wonderful felting workshop, I found myself in an empty house. The place was filled with peace from the lovely energy left from my workshop, I had no cleaning to do, my dinner was made, my family were visiting Nana and Poppa for the weekend … I was alone!

I’ve been dreaming about this moment for several months now. I have always wanted to do a Vipassana. My last chance to do one was when I first heard about them. I was pregnant with my first child at the time and chose not to go. I wish I had gone because since then I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding or unable to leave my family for 10 days at a time. I am also not sure I really understood the value of 10 whole days of nothingness at the time. Six years of parenting has left me with a craving for nothingness that has lately been consuming me.

At the end of last year I had determined that 2010 would be the year of Vipassana. My daughter was no longer breast-feeding, and I had no concerns at all about leaving the children with my husband for a week and a half while I went off and spent time in meditation. Then I got pregnant again, and busy again, and … well you know how it is …

So I had determined that I would do my own Vipassana. At first I dreamed of going in to the bush to spend two days and a night alone, just me and a tent and some food and my thoughts. Bliss. All it required was for me to book in a weekend and make sure my husband would be free …. but it didn’t happen. Weekends are always challenging – that is when I work, and when things done at home. Weekends have been crazy for us since the year started.

So this weekend, like another gift from the Goddess, I find myself alone in my home, with time.

Time I was not going to waste.

I could hardly wait to get started.

I put on my warm clothes, insect repellant and left the house with my ritual pouch, a shawl and a blanket. There is a creek and a bushland reserve in front of our house, and it was my intent to find a spot and just sit. Before I sank into stillness I felt the need to make my space sacred. I was, after all, about to embark on a moment of Sacred Idleness and it felt appropriate to mark out the circle within which I would sit. From my ritual pouch I selected items to help me create the boundaries of my circle: a shell to honour the water in the east, a feather to honour the air in the south, a bone to honour the earth in the west and a snake-skin to honour the fire in the north. I couldn’t help singing softly to myself as I traced out my circle. I sang to the elements, to the ground I was about to sit on, to the mosquitoes … asking them respectfully not to investigate my sweet-smelling life blood too closely!

Meditation has never been my forte, and it wasn’t my intention at all in this exercise. I think it happened accidentally for me this weekend. All I wanted to do was experience the joy of doing nothing at all. Sacred Idleness: spending time being still, noticing the happenings of the world as it continues its busy-ness without my contributions. My world stopped, but Mother Earth continued. I settled in and watched the spiders weave webs, the ants bustle about here and there, little tiny grass leaves twitch with the tiniest of breezes,  the reflected light from the creek water blessing the branches in the trees. I listened to the birds, the miscellaneous rustling amongst the leaves and undergrowth, the water greeting the rocks and then bubbling over them. I listened to roaming groups of 10-year olds crashing through the bush and exploring. I listened to the mosquitoes, disturbingly close to my skin, and chose to ignore them for as long as I could.

The hour of sitting I managed before the mozzies got the better of me was bliss. I can’t tell you how long it has been since I have had the opportunity to think my own thoughts for as long as I want to! Both my children have turned into such delightfully chatty little things with interesting observations and questions about the world. If they are not talking, they are whooping and calling and singing and making general nonsensical sounds at the top of their lungs as they play outside. They are joyful sounds of childhood, but they still loud and are not exactly conducive to the kind of peace I have been needing lately. I like quiet.

I returned from my hour of sitting to a house of comfortable stillness and ate my dinner outside under the gaze of the moon. I was itching to write about my afternoon on the computer, and got as far as lovingly caressing the ‘on’ button of my laptop … but I knew that I would immediately get lost in time as I wrote, time that I could be enjoying doing nothing. The opportunity to NOT do anything is so rare!

So I sat outside and listened to more sounds. I didn’t think, but like the clouds crossing the moon thoughts came and went. Great ideas, old thoughts, memories, plans … after a while I felt the urge to write them down, so I went inside and by the light of the candle I did some automatic writing in my book. Then to bed. It must have been 7:30pm.

I woke 12 hours later, wondering why it was so quiet – surely the children must be up to something if it is so quiet! And then I remembered. Oh I didn’t miss them at all 🙂

This morning I spent some time exploring some thoughts that came to me last night … spending time with my ancestors. One of my latest assignments in my priestess studies was to map out my ancestors – not to find out who they were, but just to acknowledge their presence and their contribution to my life. It was an awesome experience, and very overwhelming as I counted all the mothers and fathers in my history, 7 generations of mothers and fathers before I ran out of paper, all of them leading eventually in their unions to me, to my birth. I felt very special. I felt very humbled. I felt very grateful.

Some more time spent drawing – this time a picture of a tree that I realised was my dreaming for the birth of this baby I carry. More about that later …

Then a walk to the creek for another hour of sitting in sacred idleness, after which I collected some river stones to make a set of runes before returning home, stripping off everything and basking in the sun outside. Baby hasn’t seen or felt much sun and I could feel contended movements within me as my belly warmed up. I imagined what it must look like inside: all rosy and pink. I am so in love with this baby, and while I am not in a hurry for this pregnancy to end, I am looking forward to the end of the mystery. I haven’t had any scans or any tests. I haven’t had any intuitions except for an idea of this baby’s birth totem. To me that is like skipping ahead to the last chapter in a book to find out the end before I even know how the story gets there. I spent some time with our Mystery Baby today.

After lunch I made my rune stones and began to embroider a bag to keep them in. My family returned and while I was happy to see them, I didn’t feel quite ready to have my sacred thought-space disturbed. To be honest I have such a back log of Sacred Idleness waiting that I could have done with another day at least. It was such a joy just being able to drift from one thing to another, from thought to thought, and enjoy purposeful but non-essential activity. To just BE.

I’ve always been a bit jealous of my husband’s RDOs (rostered days off) – when do I get mine? So now I know that if I want time to myself, all I need to do is ask. It is that easy. So I will.

2 thoughts on “24 hours of Sacred Idleness

  1. Wow! I don’t think I could sit still and do nothing for an hour. Even when I am alone I need to keep my hands busy and my mind never stops chattering! I wish I could manage to quiet it down a bit. I tend to do my thinking while cross stitching or gardening with the occasional stop for a few sweet breathes.

    • Usually I am the same – It was my intention to sit for the WHOLE 24 hours … but who am I kidding? I ended up drawing and sewing and writing and reading … all these are meditations for me too 🙂

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