Finding an Ocean of Calm and Contentment when Living Alone
Living alone presents several challenges. When we are able to enjoy the company of family and friends, go to work or participate in a range of activities, these challenges may not be so noticeable. When, however, we are unable to be in contact with others, maybe due to health reasons or are isolated as many have been during the Coronavirus epidemic, the sense of isolation looms large.
If you are new to meditation you might be finding it difficult to stay calm, balanced and productive throughout the day. As a retired Academic Librarian [who has been meditating for over 20 years] and who lives alone, I would like to share some tips that might help you to manage this time of enforced isolation and turn it to your own advantage.
Establish a Routine
When you are no longer going out to work and have lost an enforced routine it can be helpful to set up your own. A routine provides structure and can lead to a sense of purpose and achievement which in turn leads to contentment and fulfillment. A routine helps to establish a sense of CALM because you do not have to think about it. And you may find that the time you save by not having to drive or catch public transport to work is time that you can devote to your own wellbeing.
A basic routine can involve getting up at a regular time and greeting the day either by going outside or just looking out the window at the sky and the trees or listening to the birds or the other noises in the street. A cup of tea or coffee before 20 minutes or so of meditation followed by a walk on the beach, then breakfast can be a lovely way to start the day and builds contact with mind, body and nature.
Add Spot Meditations
Throughout the day it can be helpful to build in some informal mindfulness and/or spot meditations to create a break between tasks and to return your awareness to your body. For example, washing the dishes by hand allows you to feel the warm water on your skin. Eating and cooking are other tasks that provide opportunities to practise mindfulness.
Create a Sanctuary
Making the home or office area attractive by selecting flowers or playing soft music can help to turn your home into a sanctuary. If it is possible, taking a short rest after lunch is a lovely thing to do.
Get in Touch with Nature
At the end of the day spending time out of doors and building in contact with nature is a great way to wind down and come back to your senses. If you do not live near the beach or a park, choose quieter streets to walk in that have trees and gardens rather than shops or lots of traffic. Sunset is a lovely time to walk as you can see the sky changing colours and hear the birds settling in for the night. The smells of nature are also very healing: trees, dampness of the earth, the smell of the sea, wind in the trees are just a few of the things you might notice as you exercise out of doors.
If you are feeling sad or unhappy, listening to or playing music is a great way to open the heart and if the tears come it can be an excellent release to let them flow freely. You may like to try dancing to wild or exotic music – this can be a celebration of life and a good way to let off steam especially if the weather is too wet or windy to exercise outside.
Stay in Touch
Keeping in contact with friends or family is important especially if you live alone. Social media is a wonderful way of finding new friends who love the same things as you do and when in isolation this is a great way to share experiences, learn about different cultures and build a sense of empathy and connection. Social media is often considered a waste of time but can be quite the opposite.
If at times you feel overcome with grief at the suffering in the world and yet feel helpless to do anything about it, mantras and visualisation meditations may help. The classic All Embracing Kindness meditation (the Rose in the Heart) as taught at Lifeflow or mantra where you send love out through the world and the universe can be very effective in these situations. These meditations provide a way in which your energy can connect with other people and all of life in a subtle way.
Some other things that many people have found helpful in these times are writing poetry or stories, playing a musical instrument, gardening, reading, photography and artwork.
Routines at the end of the day complement those at the beginning. Taking a warm bath or shower, looking at the sky, listening to the rain, listening to relaxing music, drinking a glass of wine, doing yoga or meditating before going to bed are a few things that can be useful.
How many of these suggestions are possible will depend on your circumstances: don’t feel pressured to do them all. Just try what works for you.