#Isolation and #lockdown are words we are hearing a lot about in 2020 and let's face it, the uncertainty of what the imminent future holds can be overwhelming. Between the media, the government, social platforms and idle gossip, it's no wonder we are all feeling slightly worried about what isolating will really be like. Hannah Ervin, Meditation Practitioner has shared with us some information on how you can use the ancient practice of meditation to get through a lonely season.
Meditation for loneliness
Meditation for loneliness seems like a little bit of an odd concept, doesn’t it? I can hear the little cogs in your head turning and wondering why a solitary activity can help with loneliness. It’s completely logical to question how doing something so solitary could help - after all, it’s not going to magically create some company for you, is it?
Let’s take a look at what loneliness really means...
The thing is that loneliness isn’t about being alone. It’s about feeling alone. You can be in a crowd of people and be lonely, you could be in a seemingly perfect marriage and be lonely, you could be the life and soul of the party and still be lonely.
There are also different levels of loneliness. For simplicity, I have split this into three groups but I acknowledge as with everything there is a huge scale for loneliness. Yours will be unique to you but you may identify with more elements of one of these.
You may just feel it occasionally such as when a change in circumstances suddenly gives you more time alone with your thoughts. This could be your partner leaving you to travel with work or your young children starting school. It’s temporary and will disappear as soon as your circumstances change back or you adjust your activities. This is something we all experience at one time or another.
Maybe for you loneliness looks different, is it a constant dull ache? Are you highly functioning, putting one foot in front of the other every day, taking care of the people around you, appearing to all like nothing is wrong? You may be good at hiding it, it may even be difficult to admit it to yourself. There are probably times when you don’t even notice it, as long as you are immersed in an activity it will fade into the background.
This is when you are fully consumed by and feel the physical pain of your loneliness. Its tendrils have reached every area of your life and you get little or no relief. It is unlikely to go away on its own so you are likely to need help.
What is the impact on your health?
Many studies have shown that loneliness can have an impact on physical and mental health. All of the following have been linked to loneliness:
Change in appetite
Substance abuse (alcohol, smoking, drugs)
Frequent illness (you catch every bug going - always have a cold)
Aches and pains
This is not an exhaustive list it is just a few of the red flags to look out for. If there is a chance that your loneliness is the underlying cause of any of these things addressing it could have a really big impact for you.
So how can meditation help?
I believe that whatever your level of loneliness, meditation will help. Depending on the depth of your loneliness you may find that it works by itself or you may want to use it in support of and to enhance other therapies or activities you may be pursuing.
Loneliness is all about lack of connection. It is also about listening to the little voice in your head and believing that what that little voice is telling you is true - even if that voice is being unkind, critical and negative.
Make it easy for you to connect with the world around you - wherever, whenever you need it.
Expand your thinking - there is no fixed picture of what a happy, contented, rewarding life will be so you won’t be craving something that doesn’t exist.
Give you instant relief - hit the pause button on your loneliness for just 10 minutes.
Give you peace and help you find acceptance.
Allow your inner voice to be kind, gentle and loving - so you are always happy to hear from it.
Here is a short and simple meditation exercise for you to try right now:
Wherever you are sitting, standing or lying down take a moment to take in a deep breath in through your nose, feel your lungs expand and then when you can take in no more let the breath out slowly through your mouth. For a moment focus purely on your breath…
Now take a look around you, notice the air on skin, the texture of your clothes on your body, feel the weight of your body connecting with the earth below you.
Now look for something you can pick up or touch. It could be something natural like a flower or a blade of grass, it could be something man-made such as a button or a pencil, or something that just happens to be in your pocket like a ticket stub or coin.
Hold this object in your hand and give it your full attention. Look at it closely, what do you notice about it that you haven’t before? What surprises you? What does it feel like in your hand?
Now think of the journey this object has taken to come to be here in your hand. Trace all the way back to where it came from. If it is man-made think of the people it came into contact with, how every action it went through happened so you could have it at this moment. You can’t see them but you are now connected to them. They did something for you. Take this moment to wish them well. If you are holding something organic think of the elements that supported it’s growth and nourished it and thank nature.
Understand also that everything you have now in some way will be passed on to someone else. Wish those people well too.
As you go through this process you will feel a deeper connection to this one little thing, you will feel its energy and understand its purpose. It will also connect you to the wider world, the past, the present and the future. Right at this moment it only exists for you and you for it and that is a beautiful thing.
So on reflection, how did this process make you feel? Have you felt a little less lonely, even if just for a moment?
The opposite of loneliness is a connection, so my hope for you is that you find a moment of relief while doing this and you feel encouraged to try this again.
Here are a few additional suggestions you can consider:
Join a group (sports, games, the WI).
Reach out to people who care about you.
Speak to a counsellor - many people benefit from talking therapy. If you are based in the UK, then you can use The Counselling Directory to find the right therapist for you, in your area. Counselling is also available online, so if you are unable to leave your home for any reason, then help is still available to you.
Find a Life Coach - a life coach can help you overcome the blocks that may be holding you back. One Way Journey offers Life Coaching in 4-week wellness programs.
Get a pet. Please remember, a pet takes a lot of commitment and care, but the rewards will be worth it.
Make sure your social media links are to positive, inspiring and varied.
Find a meditation app to support you in your meditation journey or find a local practitioner. We also have some free meditations for you to use at home on our meditation page here.
Whatever you try I wish you well.