You can experience some of the same feelings and benefits of solitude even when you're around other people. Try this exercise in a busy public place, like a shopping mall, park, or train station.
Find a place to sit or stand where you won’t feel in the way, but can also still see and hear people.
Take a few moments to get comfortable in your seat or wherever you’re standing. Lower your gaze toward the ground, and notice what’s going through your mind. Just notice it. Then bring your attention into your body; into your throat, chest, and belly. Notice any sensations in those areas, like tightness, pressure, or a fluttery nervous feeling. Whatever you notice, just let it be in a friendly way.
After a while let your gaze rise, and rest your eyes gently on whatever is in front of you. Then, without turning your head or your eyes, begin to take in the sights and sounds going on around you. You’ll be using your awareness to notice things to the right and left, and even behind you.
As you continue to let the sights and sounds in your space come to you, begin to tune into what’s going on inside of you. How is your body reacting to having other people near by? How does it feel to be by yourself around others? Try not to focus on any particular person or detail, but just notice …
If you feel self-conscious, that’s OK—just notice the physical sensations that come with being self-conscious. That’s the point of the exercise: To recognize inner sensations without needing to react or do anything to change them.
If you start to feel anxious, lower your gaze again. This will slow down the experience of sensations coming to you. Experiment a bit with raising and lowering your gaze, noticing what is going on around you and at the same time, what is going on inside you.
This copyrighted information is courtesy of Mindful.org and mindfulness teacher and author David Rome.
Reviewed by Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors, including Mark Dreskin, MD, Sharon Smith, LPC, and/or David Kane, LCSW. August 2019.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.
Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage, Summary Plan Description or other coverage documents. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.