You are Never Alone

My life has changed dramatically. Our only daughter is in college, I left my part-time job to work from home, and I now find myself by myself more than at any other time in my life.

Before this stage in my life, being alone was never a problem, mostly because it rarely happened. Between a busy career, raising a daughter, all of her activities (school, sports, etc.) and our family, being alone was usually not an option. Others came first, and I willingly played my part.

But now all of that busyness is over. In these quiet hours, working from home, I face loneliness. I’m afraid that I will discover myself as less than. Now that I can’t hide from myself, I can either jump into another job or see where this path leads.

I choose to stay on the creative journey, working from my home and realigning myself…to my Self.

The rhythms of the house provide the backbone of my day.

The dogs have their routine (sleeping, stretching around noon as they get ready for their walk, then more sleeping until dinner). The mailman’s arrive is predictable. Unless I receive a package from Amazon or a solicitor doesn’t see my “No Solicitation” sign, my home can feel like a museum — hushed and tomb like.

At first, I was rattled by the silence and isolation. When a neighbor walked by my study, I am ashamed to say I would run out the front door just to have a conversation. Realizing that I couldn’t tackle my friends to fill up a perceived need in my own psyche, I looked for alternatives.

The gym is a great place to be part of something bigger. You move your body while you watch mindless television. I have never watched so many Netflix series in my life. Another thing to chalk up to being self-employed (sigh).

Networking lunches are not much better. Whenever it is my turn to give my “elevator speech” to the table, I feel great, but I can tell that they were not really listening. Instead, the focus is on who is speaking next, without thought or care for the person speaking.

So that leaves me…with me.

I decided to make this time in my life a challenge. Could I spend time with myself and enjoy it?

The resounding answer is “Yes!” But it took some time to discern what supported my alone time…and what didn’t. My biggest challenge was learning to listen to my inner dialogue with compassion, understanding and mindful awareness.

I have a tendency to compare myself to other people. When I am by myself, that tendency can turn into a raging inferno, destroying every positive belief I ever held about myself. As I move through my day, I am acutely aware of when my Comparison Voice starts to tune up.

The key is to recognize when I am triggered and use mindfulness tools to defuse the energy flow.

For example, when I have a full day of work but don’t hear from a friend about lunch, my Critical Voice starts warming up. Instead of listening to it, I take several deep breaths and thank it for protecting me. I don’t resist the judgment, I just don’t give it any energy.

It slinks away on its own, back to the corner of my mind where it lives in darkness, hoping for the next opening to voice its concerns. My Critical Voice will always be with me, but I can choose in the moment whether to listen to it or not. And recognizing that choice moves me back into my power.

Another mindfulness tool I use quite often is called “16 Seconds.” I first learned this technique from Davidji, a wonderful meditation teacher, guide and all around sage. This tool is useful in almost any situation when you notice you are stressed.

I have taught this technique to groups and individuals. None of the people I have shared 16 seconds with was able to successfully complete the following experiment. Perhaps you, my intrepid Medium readers, can bust that streak. Here goes:

Think of something that upset you today. Was it traffic or a bill you received? Set that irritation or upset at the forefront of your mind.

While you are still thinking of the upset, follow me in this breathing technique. The experiment is whether you can hold onto the upset while you are breathing for 16 seconds.

o Breath in slowly, counting to 4 seconds.

o Hold your breath for 4 seconds.

o Exhale slowly, counting to 4 seconds.

o Hold your breath out for 4 seconds.

Did you hold onto your upset or stress in the middle of 16 seconds? I didn’t think so. Want to know why? Because your mind was focused on your breath, not the upset. The deep breathing calmed your autonomic nervous system and released you from the stress hormones.

You just practiced mindfulness (and you didn’t even know it). Congratulations!

I am never alone.

As I share time with myself, my fear of being alone has disappeared. I am living “wholehearted,” as described by Brene Brown. Living from a place of worthiness and acceptance — of myself and my place in the world.

Having met myself, I got to know my Self. That more substantial part of me who knows infinite love, eternal peace, and unbounded joy. She is my “being” — that part of me who is perfect. As long as we are connected and in a healthy relationship, I am never alone.

To start your own daily mindfulness practice, why not take the 21-Day Heart Dancing Challenge? You may just discover that you are so much more than you ever thought about your self.