Spending time alone, in moderation, is not only good for you but it’s an important part of nurturing a strong sense of identity. Being alone gives us the time and space to listen to and get to know ourselves, and to experience (and enjoy!) our own company. Learning to be more comfortable with ourselves can also improve our interactions with others.
Here’s a practice to help you start feeling more comfortable being alone.
Go somewhere you can be alone Outside, maybe go to a park or garden, or find a quiet room indoors. Find a comfortable place to sit or even stand, and let your body really rest into the support of wherever you are.
Notice your body Start by taking a minute or so to notice what’s going on in your mind, and then move your attention down into your body. Keep your eyes open with a relaxed gaze. Sense how it feels to be alone—you might even say to yourself, “I’m all alone here.” Notice any sensations in your body—how does it react to “all alone”?
Continue noticing Stay with whatever sensations you notice in your body. Thoughts will come up but let them go and gently return your attention to how it feels in your body—in your throat, chest, and belly. Do you notice any tightness, nervousness or heaviness, or another sensation? Is there emotion, like fear, anxiety, or self-consciousness? Or maybe you feel a sense of ease and comfort. Just let whatever feeling is there be there, gently keeping it company with no judgment.
Welcome uncomfortable feelings Try not to react to them or change them. Instead, just notice the feelings in a friendly way. Also notice when thoughts start to form but keep returning your attention to how it feels in your body. You are learning the art of solitude—simply being present for what is going on in your body and feelings without either pushing those sensations away or needing to interpret or do something about them.
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.