Revisiting the Violet Hour as Alone Time

Cooking for One

A few months ago I wrote a Weekend Meditation about the Violet Hour, that time of day after work but before dinner when day begins to slip into night, a transition often marked by the ritual of the cocktail (alcohol optional). Buried in the piece is a mention that while this is a good time to reconnect with your spouse or partner, it is also a good time to be alone. Let's talk a little more about that.

In the original piece I outlined my method for creating a violet hour at the end of the day: something delicious to drink, preferably made from scratch; a nice glass to drink it from; optional music; non-optional break from media and cellphones. I also talk about sharing this time with others but say:

... it's true, too, that this can be good alone time, especially if your day is spent dealing with a lot of people, crowded commutes, numerous obligations. The violet hour can be a time to celebrate aloneness and how delicious that can feel. The quiet, the stillness, the coming back into yourself.

Depending on your circumstances, grabbing some time alone can sound either like a luxury or a little too much of the same thing. Either way, the violet hour can be helpful. If your life is crowded, full of obligations and people who are always tugging at your sleeve, then slipping into the violet hour, even for 10 or 15 minutes, can be a lifesaver. We all need a few moments now and then to experience who we are when we are not being defined by other people, be it our boss or coworkers, or even people we love like our family and friends.

If your circumstances are the opposite, if you live alone or work alone or don't have a great deal of contact with people through out the day, bringing a little ritual into daily transitions is important. It adds definition and a deliberateness to the day, a sense of discipline that can help to hold things together and helps us to make the psychological and cognitive shift from one part of our lives to the other. The violet hour signals that the working part of the day is done and it's time to slip into another way of being.

So whether your day is overflowing with people or more singular, try enacting the violet hour and see what happens. At the very least you'll emerge renewed, refreshed and ready for the next thing. But if you're particularly calm and quiet, and also very lucky, then it's possible you just might even glimpse the unicorn.

For more on how to create The Violet Hour, visit my original Weekend Meditation on the subject.

(Image: Soleil Pâle se Couchant by Eugène Boudin,1824-1898)

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Dana Velden has just finished writing her first book: Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Meditations and Recipes from a Mindful Cook which is based on her Weekend Meditation posts from The Kitchn. (Rodale Press, Fall, 2015) She lives in Oakland, CA.