To some people, the idea of being alone doesn’t sound very appealing. In fact, many people view it as something negative and to be avoided. If I’m alone, they think, there must be something wrong with me. In many instances, they may even seem to prefer other people’s company to their own. The truth is, they might actually be afraid to be alone with themselves. I know this because this had been true for me many years ago.
When being alone is too difficult, some people will turn to a harmful distraction to avoid it such as drinking or drugs—or, as was true for me when I was in my twenties, an eating disorder: bulimia. Overeating and purging kept me numb. This addiction is how I avoided being alone with myself and facing my feelings. However, during recovery, I discovered that our alone time is essential to connecting with ourselves.
Being alone gives us a chance to really experience who we are with authenticity and complete honesty. In solitude, we see ourselves from our own perspective, free of concerns about how we might appear to others and what they think of us. Little by little, we peel away those outer layers. In this alone time, we discover our true nature, who we are when no one’s watching—beautiful, kind, and loving—and then connect within to that source of strength, support, and love that assures us we are perfect in this very moment.
In my life today I am no longer afraid of being alone. I actually treasure quiet time and love going on silent retreats! I enjoy many solitary activities, but my morning meditation is the most precious to me. It is in this quiet time with myself that I know, at a deep level, that even though I am sitting alone, I am truly one with everything. This feeling remains with me throughout the day in all my interactions—with others as well as with myself. I feel deeply connected.
In my book The Practice, I talk about my early days of feeling lonely and alone, like I was the on the outside of life looking in and thinking that I would just love to be “somebody,” to be needed, to matter. In treatment for my bulimia over thirty years ago, I learned to meditate. For the past eighteen years, I have been meditating first thing every morning, knowing that in each quiet “sitting with myself,” I am connecting within. I am overcoming my feelings of separateness and aloneness. This brings me great comfort and a beautiful feeling of being connected to myself and everything around me.
What is your story of finding yourself and feeling strong in your own skin—feeling connected?