Monthly Archives: October 2014

  • A (mindful) party for one!

    People live or spend time alone for all kinds of reasons; some by choice, some by circumstance. Some hate to be alone, while others relish the freedom that solitude brings. The chances are that at some point in our lives we will find ourselves alone for various reasons. Sometimes we’ll find fun in getting to know ourselves better, while other times we might feel rejected, or scared or tired of being by ourselves. So here are some tips on how mindfulness can help us enjoy time spent alone, and also how it can help get us through the tough patches.

    Learning to Like Our Own Company

    In this day and age, few of us truly spend time alone with ourselves. Even when we’re physically alone we may be interacting with friends on social media, or distracting ourselves with TV, food, smoking, alcohol, even daydreaming about a perfect fantasy life takes us away from really engaging with ourselves in the present. This is especially true for those of us who don’t like to be alone. If we’re feeling sad, lonely or isolated, it’s natural to want to turn away from these feelings by filling our time with distractions and comforts. However, while they may work in the short-term, it’s never too long before we need something else. The problem is we don’t like our own company. Or at least we’re not familiar with it.

    Becoming more mindful can help us see when we’re avoiding ourselves, and can help us determine why. Is it because we’re feeling an uncomfortable emotion? Is it because we’re scared of what thoughts or feelings may come up once we stop distracting ourselves? Once we know the answer, we can then give ourselves some compassion and understanding. Next time you feel low, instead of immediately reaching for a distraction, why not try sitting for a few moments with the feeling, and give yourself an internal hug?

    A Party for One

    Once we stop distracting ourselves, we will find that there are many ways we can enjoy being alone. Social media may give the impression that an experience is only worth something if it gets a lot of shares and likes, but there’s something precious about a joyful moment experienced in solitude.

    Imagine you’re having a dinner party or a date. You’d go to a lot of effort to make sure your date or guests are having a nice time. You might cook them a special meal, make sure they’re comfortable, and listen to their jokes and stories. Yet how often do we make the same efforts for ourselves? Making sure we have a nice time when we’re alone is a real gift to ourselves.

    One of the many ways we can do this is by mindfully preparing and eating delicious food. It’s a very different experience than using food as a distraction. Rather than mindlessly eating junk food as a comfort, we can instead take the time to cook a meal that is nurturing. Notice the ingredients, and enjoy how they look, smell, feel and taste. When we’re eating our meal, we can savour every mouthful with gratitude. Even having a glass of wine can be savoured slowly, rather than knocked back as a way to numb our feelings. The same goes for chocolate or desserts. Taking the time to eat and drink mindfully makes the experience less about suppressing emotions, and more about treating ourselves like our own party guest.

    Finding Joy in the Moment

    Being mindful of our senses is a great way to bring us back to ourselves when we’re alone. Our minds may wander to reasons why it’s bad to be alone, but by deliberately looking for joy in the moment we may discover small, new pleasures.

    When we wake up in the morning, instead of focusing on being alone, we can enjoy the delicious warmth of our bed, the softness of our sheets or pyjama’s on our skin. When we’re out walking, we can take the time to appreciate the sights and sounds around us. We can even appreciate our own humour; you may think of something funny when you’re on your own, so smile or laugh at your own joke!

    Sometimes we are so focussed on ensuring other people like us, that we don’t take the time to enjoy ourselves. Appreciating the good things about our lives is actually good for our brains. Of course we can’t always enjoy being alone. There will always be difficult times. But by being more mindful we can give ourselves compassion in our low moments, and find joy in moments we didn’t even notice before.