3 Ways to Lift Loneliness
Connecting with Others
The key to connection is being present. It’s truly paying attention to the other person and your interaction as it unfolds. But how often have you been with someone who’s fiddling with their phone (or been that person yourself)? Or felt like the person you’re talking to is really somewhere else? Or been lost in your own mind chatter?
Brantley and Millstine suggest readers “Set an intention to practice being more present in your relationships,” and use curiosity as a tool to learn more. “It could help to approach this practice with curiosity, without judging yourself, perhaps asking, What would it be like to pay more attention and to be more present, for another person and for myself, moment by moment — even a little more often than usual?”
During your interaction, also breathe mindfully and focus on the sensations of your breathing. If your mind wanders, just gently refocus on the present. (I love what they say about wandering minds in another section: “When your mind wanders, remember: you don’t have to fight or control your thoughts, and you do not have to follow or feed them either. You have not made a mistake when your mind wanders; it is what your mind does!”)
Whenever you feel disconnected, consider how you’re feeling disconnected and why (“without making it a problem or someone’s fault”). Notice your own thoughts and emotions and then let them pass, returning to your breath. Then try to restore the connection.
Connecting with the World
I’ve written before on Weightless about the sorry state of eating in our society. Many delicious foods are forbidden, and enjoying mealtime is either a forgotten art or a frowned-upon act (unless of course you’re eating a low-cal meal manufactured by a weight-loss company). Too many of us eat on the go or get distracted by devices, giving our meals little, if any, thought. (Me included!)
So it might surprise you to learn that a bond can be found in bites of food: “Imagine seeing your connection to others in a bowl of rice,” Brantley and Millstine write. In fact, they believe that “every meal is an opportunity for cultivating a spiritual relationship with the food you eat.”
Before eating, the authors suggest taking a few breaths and observing your foods’ textures, color palate and perfumes. Pick one of the foods on your plate, and ask yourself the following questions: “Where did it come from? How was it grown? Who grew it? Who packaged it? How did it get to my grocery store?”
As you take your first bite, relish in your food’s flavors and textures, and realize just how much energy and labor went into your meal. “In a single bite, you can begin to perceive the hard work of generations of family farmers who may be connected to your meal. You are eating with the sun and the rain and the farmer and the bumblebee. They are all joining you for this meal.”
If you have any insight on overcoming loneliness, please share in the comments!
We’d love to hear how you cope with loneliness.
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). 3 Ways to Lift Loneliness. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 14, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/09/30/3-ways-to-lift-loneliness/