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Mindfulness & Loneliness

By Graham Reid

In continuation to my last article on mindfulness, I now want to spark a discussion looking at the question of how we can use mindfulness techniques to combat loneliness.

Primarily, mindfulness teaches us to distance ourselves form our thoughts. Our subconscious seems uncontrollable at times and bombards our heads with irrational, scary thoughts. It is easy to slip into a downward spiral of negative thinking and convince yourself that you will be lonely forever. Our brains have evolved in such a way that we still have a negative thought bias.

This is an innate, yet outdated, method of protection: always use protection! Imagine you are a primal version of yourself (in my instance I imagine my reflection at 7am), inhabiting the jungle with your friends in the animal kingdom. Do you think you will survive having happy, dodo thoughts all the time? Or is it safer to be suspicious and have a quick-activating anxiety response and always see the worst?

Put simply, are you going to admire the intrinsic sound of a snapping twig or are you going to allow your brain to overflow with negative, suspicious thoughts and run for your life?

When focusing your mind on one thing, like breathing, you become an observer of your own thoughts. You become the show, the cast, and the audience all at once. You are one talented person and even if you are alone, you are fabulous. You learn that the thoughts you have do not necessarily have to be true and you can choose which ones to listen to. You are in total control of what goes on in your head even if you aren’t with what happens outside it. You have the power to disempower your thoughts on loneliness and stop the hold they have on you.

Let’s make loneliness lonely.

Whilst in meditation, spectating your thoughts as they come and go, you can get to know yourself better. You can become your closest companion: the one who knows you the best. You know your interests, your dislikes, and your dreams. You become your own best friend for life.

Loneliness can stem from feeling too inadequate to deserve others’ company or from not knowing where you fit in. Get to know yourself better before you try to get to know others. Find out what makes you tick and then find someone who makes you tock. It will work like clockwork.

Another benefit from practising mindfulness is that it will remove the stigma of loneliness. Why is it perceived as bad? Psychologically, the brain can’t really differ positive emotions from bad ones. It is our own interpretation of situations which make them feel good or bad. Mindfulness will teach you to accept your current situation and stop striving so hard to change it. You will stop reminding yourself that being lonely is a bad thing. You will accept that you have some loneliness and that it will not last forever.

When you feel comfortable being alone and it no longer holds you back, you can focus your mind on integrating yourself into social circles. But more on focusing on the positive when I talk about affirmations later. Mindfulness is about distancing yourself equally from ‘good’ situations and ‘bad’ ones. It teaches you that nothing is permanent and everything will change: whether for the better of for the worst. You will learn to live in the present moment, removing fear of the future and your imaginary perpetual state of loneliness. For who knows what the future will hold? The future is a fiction until it happens.

Mindfulness will allow you to appreciate what you have and forget about what you don’t have. Focus on what your life is full of and let slide the thoughts of what is missing. When you focus on what is there, you will attract more. You are not lonely. Love and kindness surround you. If you really look for it, you will find it. When you find it, appreciate it, and more will come your way. A tad like my articles…

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