“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with.” Wayne Dyer
Learning to be alone and liking that person . . . that was absolutely the best gift I ever received. Strange to call it a gift. But, it was.
I was in my late twenties and was pretty much fretful about everything. There was not much peace happening between my ears . . . and I guess it was pretty obvious. At least it was to my neighbor, Don. I had recently split from what I thought was a serious relationship . . . not. I was finishing up my degree at The Ohio State University (Go Bucks) and for the first and only time in my adult life was only going to college. Prior to this I had always worked full time and gone to college.
Suffice to say, I didn’t find much peace in a crowd let alone when I was by myself. But Don was a quiet writer kind of guy. Different by most standards. He was a professional chauffeur and caterer. He chose those professions so he could work by night and keep most of his days free.
He watched people and became a good judge of what was happening inside. So he read me fairly quickly and gave me the support I needed to realize the joy in being alone. Alone in a room with just me. That really had not been a place I enjoyed very much. I didn’t really like me a whole lot.
So you may ask, what did Don do to help me find this place? We lived in the same building . . . me on the ground floor, he on the top floor. I was trying to accomplish a lot in a very short period of time. I wanted to be done with college so I went full time that year (1980) to get my BS in accounting . . . finally.
When I would come home, if he wasn’t working we would do something fun (like push each other around in the pool on air mattresses with grapes and cherries and chocolate bonbons). That’s him in the pool during one of our sessions.
Or we would go for a run . . . he did his best to teach me the science . . . but, he was smooth and graceful and almost effortless and I was just glad to get back.
Then I had to go to work with my studies and only take a break for the 11:00 pm news and Johnny Carson. Then it was back to work.
So Don was around enough to give me diversion from my studies; but, when we were together he reinforced the value of my time alone.
I developed the courage to go to the movies alone; for walks alone . . . all sorts of things I didn’t really do on my own before. I realized after the fact that I could have done it myself . . . and according to him, I did do it myself. He provided me with a comfort zone that always welcomed me back.
He has since passed; but, I will always appreciate the gentle way he encouraged that behavior without my even knowing it.
Take baby steps if it’s a scary place. Once you have the ability to find joy in that time you will find much peace. So try it for short periods of time. Maybe go shopping . . . but make it fun, wander and look at things you generally ignore when you are in your normal rushed state to get it done. Go for a walk along the Riverwalk or to the column or the beach.
Dr. Catherine Meyers shares a great meditation where she instructs us to go for a walk and go at half speed on the way back. You see things you never noticed before. It is a great way to find peace in that time alone.
You can do it at home just sitting in a chair . . . for as long as you are at peace. Once you find that space within, you won’t ever be lonely. Even though I may have days where I’m not necessarily thrilled with me, I never regret my time alone. Over the years I have found that time to be very relaxing, reflective and restorative. Truly a gift that no one can take from you, it can’t wear out and doesn’t go out of style.
Peggy Stevens, Owner of RiversZen, Master Ki-Hara Trainer, Yoga Instructor, Posture Exercise Professional. She teaches multiple weekly classes and is available for private Ki-Hara Appointments in both the Astoria, Oregon and Ilwaco, Washington locations. Peggy can be contacted directly at email@example.com or by phone at 503-440-3554.