I am a loner, through and through! I have always been this way. I remember as a child I would be inside the house on hot summer days, drenched in sweat either writing a play (Pause for a sec…. I was really about to be a playwright y’alllll)…. Reading a book, or watching Unsolved Mysteries like it didn’t spook the crap out of me! This is how I spent most of my time as a child, alone. It’s not like I was an only child either.
My younger sister and I are exactly one year and a few days apart so she was always around. But for some reason, I really enjoyed my own company. I cracked myself up with my corny jokes, made up stories in my head about life and love, put my creative juices to use in my drawings, sewed all my dolls’ clothing out of old pajamas and socks… all this alone time was wonderful for me. As I got older, I continued to enjoy it. My alone time evolved and I started taking walks to get the adrenaline pumping through my blood, connecting with nature, journaling, listening to music in the dark, creating plans for mastering my way through life, and still dreaming up stories about life and love.
As with every evolution, life happens and you find that the time you spend alone morphs. Sometimes that time alone fluctuates, and if you’re a bit of an introvert like me, it teeters on the brinks of loneliness, and/or isolation. At times, I was not sure if my alone time was actually intentional or a product of my depressive and anxious states. So I thought I’d talk a bit more about this.
These days I am really big on having a weekly wellness routine, and that routine is filled with various activities that lend to my self-awareness, self-care, and self-love. All of the things needed for a good chunky piece of peace! Inner peace, that is! Without any of the aforementioned things, inner peace can be quite difficult to attain. Inner peace is defined as a deliberate psychological and spiritual state of presence that is calm despite the existence of stressors. It’s a state of being that one chooses to cultivate and participate in because of the benefits it has on one’s emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Inner peace is attained internally, in the sense that it happens on the inside of you. Others cannot know for sure if you are in a state of inner peace until it manifests outwardly from you, and they are witness to that manifestation. It’s that unbothered, unfuckwitable, chill AF look you often see others grace…
Inner peace is hard to come by because of the impact everyday stressors can have on us. Compound that with the residual from traumas we have faced in our lives, and the often hard to reach self-care, self-love, and self-awareness. To achieve true inner peace one must be practicing all of those things, choose alone time intentionally and be careful to not tip the scales too much to isolation and loneliness.
We have all heard that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely, and I think that at this point in 2019, we can all agree on that fact.. I mean, the memes told us so. There are still moments, however, that in my line of work I often find that some of us are still struggling with this. Some of us struggle with being alone because it somehow correlates to being lonely, and in the age of FOMO, no one wants to be caught seemingly lonely. Loneliness is defined as a state of mind; a presence in which you feel absent of others or absent of togetherness. As this article point outs, loneliness can happen to anyone and at any point in our lives, even as you in the company of others. What causes someone to feel lonely is largely due in part to their perspective on interconnectedness and its quality. Loneliness is a universal feeling as well, and one that many of us can recognize.
Loneliness is not the same thing as solitude, and oftentimes, we get the two mixed up. If you’re a solo badass like me, then solitude is something that you crave, and find to be very helpful in your relationships with yourself, and others. Intentional alone time (aka intentional solitude), is the purposeful alone time that you take to be with yourself to be introspective and cultivate a relationship with the core aspect of you. Intentional alone time is different from isolation–the physical state of being away from social interactions and connections– in the sense of the purpose behind that alone time. While sometimes isolation can happen without choice for some people, others purposefully engage in isolation for a number of reasons related to, but not limited, to the fear of others, mistrust of others or dislike for others. Loneliness can accompany isolation; so not only is the person alone but they also feel lonely. The benefits of isolation are few, as we need social interactions to live healthy lives, even if those interactions don’t necessarily bring a lot to the table. Just the mere presence of social interactions is enough to keep you healthy. Nonetheless, there is no inner peace in isolation and loneliness.
So how can intentional alone time benefit you, and how does it lend to inner peace? Well, we now know that both isolation and loneliness does not bring about feelings of inner peace. In fact, both loneliness and isolation have many health risks attached to them. That is not the case with intentional alone time. When one engages in alone time intentionally, they are taking control of and a vested interest in their experiences as a human being. We are all soul beings having a human experience, and every so often we need to connect to that part of us. Studies have found that spending time alone “contributes to personal growth and self-acceptance,”. This is where inner peace comes in.
When you can use alone time intentionally to aid in personal growth, self-care, self-love and self-awareness, you build on self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is the biggest ingredient in inner peace. There is a confidence and calmness in all of you who are and how you show up in the world that makes your time here on Earth that much more meaningful. Here are five ways to practice intentional alone time to bring about inner peace.
- Take a walk and spend time in nature
It can be daunting to take a walk with no predestined destination, just step outside and go for a walk. Some people might actually find this boring. One thing that helps make my walks stimulating is to interact with what I see around me. While walking, notice nature… sit in the park, by the water or in a forest and look around you. Engage your five senses and make a mental list of what you see. Experience yourself having this practice, and in the end thank yourself for the walk.
2. Be your own therapist
Pull out a notebook or journal and write down your innermost thoughts about anything that comes to mind about anything. Soon you’ll find yourself in the deepest crevices of your thoughts. Process what you are thinking by writing your thoughts on your thoughts. We spend so much time doing, and thinking, but not enough thinking about our thinking. This practice allows you to be alone with your thoughts and becomes familiar with them. This is how we can insight into those parts of us we don’t always pay attention to.
3. Let loose and be your truest self
Seriously there is nothing more self-accepting than truly being yourself when no one is watching. Although I do this even when people are watching, and have been called awkward one too many times to keep count. Letting loose because no one is watching is so soul gratifying. In this practice, you can let down your guard, face your fears, face all the parts of you and be with them. Sometimes, I like to sit in front of the mirror and eventually something will come to me, either I will turn on the music and dance fearlessly, or practice mirror work.
4. Plan and strategize your life
When we get caught in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often forget where we are headed and what we are in this life for. We all have a purpose while here, and living out your purpose can bring on so much gratification, and gratitude. Gratitude is a breeding ground for inner peace. Google some planners and go in on what you see for yourself in the next few years. Write down how you will get there, and what it will mean for your life satisfaction to meet those goals. This also helps you to get your shit together, and this my friends, is a for sure inner peace thing to do.
Yeah, there is no way meditation was not going to be on this list. Almost all lists like this will include meditation. Absolutely because meditation is the number one practice for inner peace. You don’t even need to get in the lotus pose or lay still in bed. You also don’t need to clear your mind of thoughts. You just need 5 minutes of silence around you to lay in the dark, sit up straight, eyes closed or eyes open and just breathe and focus your thoughts on one thing. Sometimes it helps to say a mantra and repeat that to yourself during this practice. It also helps to practice breathwork in conjunction with repeating a mantra.
So give these a shot and let me know what you think.