19 Jul Loneliness Kills You, But Aloneness Gives You Power
Spring is leaving, and summer is fast approaching. During summer the trails of Jefferson County in Fairfield, Iowa will be open for trekking, and I love going there for a walk in the evening. Walking under a canopy of trees, breathing fresh air, smelling the fragrance of wildflowers, listening to the sounds of singing birds, make the trails as the perfect destination to spend some time alone. I love being alone to fight loneliness. Strange?
Aloneness brings stability within me.
Aloneness brings me serenity.
Aloneness widens my creativity.
Aloneness answers many of my unsolved questions.
Aloneness rejuvenates my body and mind.
One of the greatest gift life has offered me is the time that I spend alone. I have encountered many people in my life, who do not appreciate being alone. I met one of my old friend few days back, complaining about her loneliness. She was directionless and struggling to fill the gap. She was so surprised to see me how happy I was, in spite of staying away from my husband and family often. I shared some of my thought process and approach to life that made me to appreciate being alone. I thought it would be an interesting topic to share with you all.
First of all, being alone is not the same as being lonely. Loneliness has to do with deep rooted sorrows, feeling the absence of a meaningful human relationship, negative self-image, shyness, high sensitivity, unrealistic expectations, and lack of social skills. People who experience loneliness find themselves very comfortable to stay in their cocoon. They are not aware of the risk of feeling lonely.
Dr. John Cacioppo from the Department of Psychology, University of Chicago has done extensive research on loneliness. I was so surprised to learn some of his findings. He found that loneliness is a part of the biological early warning machinery to alert you to threats and damages to your social body which you also need to survive in this world. Loneliness is a chronic disease, and it is a major risk factor for broad-based morbidity (morbidity is a term used to describe how often a disease occurs in a specific area) and mortality (state of being subject to death). Being in loneliness is sad, but for social species like human, it is not only sad but dangerous. Danger to themselves as well as to the society. If we think that premature death is majorly caused by obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and air pollution then WE ARE WRONG. Premature death majorly occurs by loneliness. When negative social events are presented to the people who experience loneliness, their cortical activity is found to be increased. It makes a person to focus on self-preservation not concerning about others. It increases defensiveness, depression symptoms, morning cortisol level, impulsive behavior and decreases sleep.
HOW CAN WE OVERCOME LONELINESS?
The only way to overcome loneliness is to learn to enjoy being alone. Let me share a solution to overcome loneliness and beat the premature death.
SOLUTIONS TO OVERCOME LONELINESS
- IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
Recollect when the last time you have participated in a social event. Recollect the incident that made you to become a loner. Noting down the negative events will help you to figure out the solution to your problem.
- RECOGNIZING THE SIGNAL
Now recognize the signals that make you avoid participating in social events or mingling with people. The negative thought pattern or self-defeating thoughts that are running in your mind are the signals that comes from your mind to avoid social interactions.
- UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT IS DOES TO YOUR BODY & MIND
The next step is to recognize the changes that is happening in your body and mind. For example, irregular sleeping pattern or lack of sleep, frustration, anger, feeling tired, physical pain such as headache, stomach upset, etc.
- RESPOND TO THE PROBLEM
After identifying the various aspects of loneliness, now respond to overcome loneliness. Take necessary actions to battle loneliness.
I am totally aware of the difficulty of getting into the nitty gritty of the mental side of climbing to battle loneliness. But, what if you have a cool and easy technique to climb this ladder smoothly?
Mindfulness meditation is a simple and effortless technique to overcome many psychological and health problems. Researchers have attempted to explore the effectiveness of mindfulness in loneliness and yielded a positive result. They found that a eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program helps decrease loneliness in older adults.
Mindful awareness practices emphasize paying attention to your moment-to-moment experience, including internal emotional and mental activity and, when in dialogue with other people, attuning to them and the shifting dynamics of your interaction as well.
The techniques used in mindfulness will effortlessly make a person climb the above four steps.
- Breathing and Body scan
For the first few weeks, simple breathing exercises are taught. It helps to calm down the body and the mind. This exercise prepares the mind to experience meditation. Followed by body scan technique which by consciously paying attention to the each part of the body helps to get rid of the physical pain or the discomfort.
- Noting Technique
Noting technique helps to identify the negative thoughts and consciously replaces with the positive ones. Mindfulness eventually erases the negative neural pattern and replaces them with the positive one. By gently noticing your thoughts and being curious about them, you begin to differentiate between what is true and what your mind wants you to believe is true.
- Focus on the Now
To discover the joy of being alone, “Focus of Now” technique will be a powerful tool. To be with the present moment might be a difficult task initially, but cultivating it in your daily life will eventually result to it being ingrained in your mind. It helps to be more present in your life. You could choose to respond mindfully to thoughts and feelings rather than be constantly at their mercy. You will learn to fill space in your life. As you cultivate this technique, you will spend more time engaged with the present moment rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
Practicing these technique on regular basis will slowly help to break your cocoon and experience the social life. When you are alone, mindfulness practice will bring a great silence and inner peace, thereby help to discover the joy of being alone. Once you experience the joy of being alone, there lies the great power. The power to enjoy your life with totality, experience social life, and manifest the life you want to live.