Loneliness is something all of us have felt at least once in our lives. You may feel isolated when there is no one around you. Even if you are surrounded by other people, if you cannot connect yourself to others, you feel lonely.
Feeling lonely for a short period of life is acceptable because at times we really need to be alone to refresh ourselves. However, if you suffer from this feeling for a long period of time, that is an alarming sign and needs to be addressed properly.
This article is about how mindfulness can help you in overcoming loneliness.
What is loneliness?
Loneliness means the feeling there is no one for you when you are in need of company. It is an emotion that makes you feel helpless and unwanted by others.
What is the difference between solitude and loneliness?
Solitude and loneliness look similar, but they are two different concepts. Solitude is to be voluntarily away from associating with other people. Loneliness is to feel isolated when you do not want to be isolated.
Why do you feel lonely?
Feeling lonely can be due to cultural, social, and psychological reasons.
- You may feel lonely in a new country or a place. For example, I grew up in an Asian country where people are collective. There are a lot of events in which we get the opportunity to meet up with our friends and relations. Also, the neighbors are like close friends in Asian countries. When I first migrated to the U.S.A., I could not bear the loneliness. It took me years to overcome the feeling of loneliness.
- Changes in relationship status can make you feel lonely. For example, when someone dear to you is departed, you feel lonely.
- Technology has isolated people to a great extent. It seems we are globally connected with each other as a result of new technology. In reality, we are deserted more than ever in the technological era. People are not sensitive enough to talk with the person next to them and they try to get busy on the phone.
- Loneliness can be a symptom of a psychological problem such as depression. People who are depressed like to be alone. They discontinue their relationships with others.
- If you lack the skill of making friends, you may also feel alone. Various reasons such as inferiority complex or lack of communication skills can be a barrier to make friends.
How do you overcome loneliness?
The good news is you can overcome loneliness if you make an effort on your part. On the surface level, you can immediately address loneliness by going for a walk, listening to music that uplifts your mood, listening to motivational talks, engage in community service, etc. There are a lot of opportunities out there and you have to seek the opportunities to push your limits.
How mindfulness helps you overcoming loneliness?
As I mentioned earlier, loneliness can be addressed at the surface level by switching your attention to something inspiring.
However, to tackle loneliness properly, you need to understand the nature of your mind.
We always try to lean on another person or a thing in our lives. For example, we always try to find happiness from whom we associate with or from other objects such as our job. As social beings, it is natural for an individual to look for the company of others.
At the same time, we need to understand that the impermanent nature of the world is a barrier to be with our loved ones forever. It is possible to miss the ties with others over time. Therefore, we need to learn to be with ourselves often.
We fear to be with ourselves because we do not know how to be with ourselves. It is usually considered to be a boring experience to be with ourselves. Also, when we are alone, memories of the past or the fear for the future can make us exhausted.
Therefore, you have to introduce how to find peace within you gradually.
How to engage in daily activities mindfully?
- Morning meditation:
You can start to be mindful of the daily activities you engaged in. For example, as soon as you wake up in the morning, instead of reaching out for your phone, try some breathing meditation. Just sit comfortably with your eyes closed on be aware of your incoming breath and outgoing breath for a few minutes. You will have a good start in the morning.
For more details, read How to meditate every morning: A way to stay positive
2. Behind the wheel:
When you are driving alone, instead of listening to the radio, try to be aware of your driving posture. See how you feel about the seat and the steering wheel. If you can pay attention to the hardness, you live in the present moment.
3. Mindful eating:
If there is no one around you at your dinner table to give you company, add some mindfulness while you eat. We take our meals without paying any attention. Some people do not enjoy the peace of having a meal. Try to be mindful of what you are eating, how the food tastes in your mouth, and so on. You will enjoy your meals more than ever.
4. Mindful walks:
When you walk alone try to be mindful. We walk from place to place without mindfulness. We are busy thinking or planning something else. Instead, keep the steps mindfully without engaging in the endless thought process.
For more details, read Walking Meditation for Beginners: Tips to start
5. Try relaxing methods:
Try some relaxing meditation methods such as spreading loving-kindness to you as well as to others. You need to forgive and forget the wrongdoings in the past. At the same time, you need to pardon others in your life. Add some compassionate thoughts such as “may I be well, happy, and peaceful. May no harm come to me, may no difficulties come to me.
6. Be compassionate:
Think about the others on the same terms as well. For example, “may my parents, siblings, teachers, etc. be well, happy, and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may no difficulties come to them.” In this way, you can generate compassionate thoughts toward yourselves as well as others.
Finally, you have to learn to be with yourself because loneliness is something you have to face someday. Learning this helps you tackling difficult situations in life and face them with a strong mind.