One of the wonderful people joining me on this adventure called Mindful Palate asked me to write about loneliness. I am not a psychologist or even a yogi, but I here’s what I think.
Loneliness is a feeling that one is isolated mentally from others. Directed angrily inward, feelings of loneliness hammer you with critiques about your capabilities and likability, twisting memories and pushing a fragmented view of the future with its insistence that you are not good enough. This emotion run amok drives a wedge between you and your ability to be content.
Loneliness has nothing to do with being by yourself because people are not hanging around with you. It’s all about how you hang around with yourself.
Learning to enjoy spending time with you is going to take some practice. Pause and do one rep of the three breaths. I’ll wait here.
Now, isn’t that better! Transitioning away from confining internal dialogue to one of contentment will allow you to step back and see the emotional options that existed there all along.
Creating a Peaceful Solitary Muse
- Build three reminders into your phone or computer, complete with special dings or bells reminding you to pause. The bell will become a signal to your brain that you are going to spend a minute or two focusing on hanging out with yourself in your head, in your body, and most importantly, in the now.
- When the reminder bell goes off, sit, stand, or walk away, changing whatever position you were in. Stay inside or go outside. Find someplace else to be.
- Perform one cycle of the three breaths.
- Look around and consider where you are. What is around you? In your mind, list the physical objects that surround you. This simple grounding diversion can break a negative out-of-time thought cycle allowing you to ease into the flow of the practice.
- Spend a few seconds focusing on where you are emotionally – take a you right now inventory of your emotions. If you feel good right now, notice it, be with it a moment, and move on to the next step. If you don’t feel very comfortable or are upset about something, acknowledge that feeling as a fact, a thing that exists to observe, not a thing to dissect or fix. Be with your feeling for a moment without judgment. Then move on to the next step.
- Now give yourself the gift of three special breaths. Breathe in slowly and think the word Peace, let the word cover your body and mind. Breathe out slowly and think the word Content, feel this emotion. Do this for three breath cycles. More breaths are not necessary. It’s the repetition throughout the day that teaches your mind and body to be happy hanging with just you.
- Return to what you were doing before the chime, holding on to any sense of stillness, contentment, and peace that remains.
- Repeat as needed, when you feel loneliness taking hold, or just when the ding tells you it is time.
Spend some pleasant time alone with yourself every day. There are so many emotional options to consider and wonderful things to notice when you are a contented Solitary Muse.