A Meditation on My Self
by Donna Henes
The Queen of Cups chooses Seclusion.
There She sits in the shadows of Her
own depth and dares to feel Her feelings.
Certainly the most crucial step toward personal sovereignty is to know our Selves. After all our years as mothers and others, we need to reestablish who we are as individuals, separate and distinct
from our relationships with those around us. Who am I if I am not a mother, a daughter, a lover, a wife, a friend, a partner, a teacher, a student, a boss, or an employee? Who am I if I am not associated with some undertaking, enterprise, creation, project, product, or
service? Who am I, in fact, if I just am? As I live and breathe? And how do I feel about it? For these answers and the answers to all of life’s questions, we must look into our heart and allow ourselves to feel our feelings, to own and embrace them for the wisdom that they
convey. Marion Woodman, the Jungian analyst, writer, and specialist in feminine development research, calls this process, “coming home to ourselves.”
Soul searching, like the practice of any devotion, requires solitude, quiet, and quality time. But life is hectic and our inner needs have often been relegated to the bottom of our endless to-do lists,
our dreams and desires deferred, left on the back burner to simmer. Over a hundred years ago, Florence Nightingale observed, “Women never have a half-hour in all their lives (excepting before or after anybody is up in the house) that they can call their own, without fear of
offending or of hurting someone. Why do people sit up so late, or, more rarely, get up so early? Not because the day is not long enough, but because they have no time in the day to themselves." If our intention is to know ourselves and to grow our power, we require dependable
periods of uninterrupted time and inviolate space that we can call our own, a protected seclusion conducive to our sacred Self-communion.
Seclusion is withdrawal on all levels. It means separating our identity not only from other people, but also from outwardly dictated and directed activity as well. Sometimes it is necessary to step
back a few paces from our bustling lives, stop racing around, and just slow down so that we can absorb and process our experiences. In a culture that defines itself in terms of clocks and dollars and duty, it is difficult to allow ourselves to claim the time and mental space
to devote to an occupation that results in no visible product. Non-product, however, and nonproductive are definitely not the same thing. Down time is not negative. It is not not doing something. What we are doing when we jump off of the treadmill is resting, reflecting,
ruminating, regenerating, rejoicing, and opening to the myriad ways of receiving the reassurance and guidance that we need.
When we carve out a niche in our busy lives to do the sorts of things that feed our soul, we are affirming our self worth, acknowledging that we crave and deserve our own undivided attention. When we
claim the psychic space and set aside the personal time to pursue the knowledge and mastery of our Self — when we assume the entitlement, the ability, and the authority to do so — we are able to access and transform our perceptions, our perspectives, our experience, our
expectations, and, in the process, our entire reality. By taking the time, by taking our time, we bless ourselves with true devotion. We consecrate our precious lives, and celebrate the continuously wondrous miracle of the unfolding of our Selves.
Sacred Seclusion enables us to know, own, and honor ourselves as unique, individual entities. To admit our abilities and limitations, our talents and truculence on the physical, mental, emotional, and
spiritual planes, and to love ourselves with compassion and no judgement attached. A practice of solitude and separation — be it occasional, frequent, or constant — teaches us that we do not need the approval or permission of any outside source to validate our personal
experience or emotions. In knowing who we are, we are empowering ourselves to know what we know and feel what we feel.
The Queen Suggests...
A Day in Bed
For years, I have been practicing a Ceremony of Seclusion for myself that I call my Day in Bed Ritual. There will simply come a day — I never predict which day — when I wake up knowing that today is my
Day in Bed. I know with a deep knowing that if I don’t lie down, I will fall down, collapse under the strain. I do not feel sick, mind you, just out of steam. In my mind, this is not a sick day, but rather, a Well Day, a day to devote to my own inner needs. Over time, I have
learned not to fight this overwhelming laziness. I gladly give in and let go of my goals.
I get up long enough to make a cup of tea and bring it back to bed with me, where I stay for the next 24 hours. Oh, I get up periodically to pee and drink and muster up something to eat, but after each
brief foray, I return to bed to spend the day blissfully quiet and alone. I read. I nap. I spend time with my journal, write a letter or list or two. I masturbate. I read. I nap. I luxuriate in doing nothing. I imagine myself to be Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Colette or
some other fabulously romantic invalid writer propped up on a throne of pillows, her devoted dog or cat nestled in the covers at her feet.
These short periods of respite and regeneration work remarkably well to keep me cool, centered, and balanced. And best of all, I rarely get sick.
© Copyright 2005
Donna Henes. All Rights
," "Moon Watcher's Companion," "Celestially Auspicious
Occasions: Seasons, Cycles and Celebrations" and "Dressing Our Wounds In Warm
Clothes," as well as the CD, "Reverence To Her: Mythology, The Matriarchy & Me."
In 1982, she composed the first (and to this date, the only) satellite peace
message in space: "chants for peace * chance for peace."
Donna Henes, Urban Shaman, is the editor and publisher of the highly
acclaimed quarterly, Always In Season: Living In Sync with the Cycles. She is
also the author of "THE QUEEN OF MY SELF: Stepping Into Sovereignty in Midlife
Mama Donna, as she is affectionately known, has offered lectures, workshops,
circles, and celebrations worldwide for 30 years. She is the director of Mama
Donna's Tea Garden & Healing Haven, a ceremonial center, ritual consultancy
and spirit shop in Exotic Brooklyn, New York.
For further information, a list of services and publications, a calendar of
upcoming events and a complimentary issue of Always in Season: Living in Sync
with the Cycles. contact:
MAMA DONNA'S TEA GARDEN AND HEALING HAVEN
PO Box 380403
Exotic Brooklyn, NY 11238-0403
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