Does this little creature look alone? Do you think he/she is lonely? Nature has a way to use the winter months to rejuvenate and prepare for the spring. She guides us to take a moment to pause, stay indoors, snuggle up as best we can and use this time wisely. Yet for humans, these winter months are often a time when we find we are connecting less to others and more to our technology. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. This was the impetus for the Wild Winter Wellness series of events at CoalDrops Yard, curated by Chris Connors and his team from Be-Box.
This is a fantastic initiative, helping people to make the most of these winter months. Proceeds for the small fee for each event go to Mind in Camden. You are invited to get out, in order to get in. Joining some of the many events that will help you connect to the city, the community and yourself, so you realise that you are never truly alone and learn to resource yourself over these winter months. So, like the hedgehog you can spring into action when the season turns.
With an epidemic of loneliness in the city, growing evidence for the health risks of loneliness and a recently appointed Minister for Loneliness in the UK Parliament, its really about time we learnt how to be alone!
Two things you can do right now if you are noticing or experiencing loneliness:
1. Pause and really open to the experience. Get to know it. Welcome it like a friend. It sounds like the OPPOSITE of what you might want to do but mindfulness shows us how to embrace all experiences – and how this fundamentally changes things. Allow yourself to feel it in the body – without labelling, analysing, or thinking about it. Just feeling the bodily sensations.
Denying, suppressing or distracting are only short term solutions that will keep you stuck in a lonely loop. It’s hard, it hurts, but it is the route to learning how to be ok with yourself just as you are. The human condition means we will at times feel lonely – its a given. I use the “Going Big” exercise for this practice. Take care, but if you have courage, you may find something unexpected.
You can find a Going Big recorded meditation here. You can also see how to use the body to help you “go big” around emotions. This exercise is form the book Mindfulness in Motion (Compassion Chapter).
2. Read this amazing poem by Jennifer Welwood “Unconditional“. The opening lines say it all really ….
Willing to experience aloneness, I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear, I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss, I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness, I find fullness without end.
I think of these words OFTEN. It is through the door of loneliness that we can discover connection. Go into your heart, let yourself feel. You are not the only one to feel this feeling – we have all experienced this at some time.
3. Connect – if you are really struggling you can talk to someone at the amazing Samaritans organization. Or why not pick up the phone to CALM (the awesomely named campaign against living miserably). Older adults might prefer to talk to someone at Silverline. Youngsters – try Childline. There are amazing people out there ready to help. Have courage, take heart, you are not alone.
If you are in London you can also come along to the Urban Hibernation with Dr Tamara Russell session on Tuesday 29th January,18:30-20:00
A group sharing led by Clinical Psychologist and Mindfulness Innovator Dr Tamara Russell from the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence on the distinctions between loneliness, solitude and being alone. Further details and booking link.
Join a Mindful Movement session with Dr Tamara Russell, Wednesday 6th February, 13:00-13:30. Join Mindful Movement specialist and author of Mindfulness in Motion, Dr Tamara Russell, for this energizing 30 minutes of gentle physical exercise to align your body, mind and soul. Further details and booking link. Movement and exercise reduce blood pressure by the same amount that loneliness increases it. So moving your body can help mitigate the damaging effects of loneliness.
Other Mindfulness Centre of Excellence Events at the Winter Wellness Event
There are mindful movement classes in the Kiosk (or outside weather permitting) run by Tamara Russell over lunch time on Feb 6th and 13th. Moving mindfully trains body and mind and will help you to connect to your body in ways that can sustain you while you work and play.
Can Cyberdelics Generate a New Mental Wealth? Salon with Dr Tamara Russell & Jose Montemayor, Wednesday 6th February, 18:30-20:00
Join visionary artist and XR Developer Jose Montemayor Alba and Clinical Psychologist Dr Tamara Russell as they discuss a roadmap for the use of cyberdelics to generate mental wealth. Further details and booking link. This is a continuation of the collaboration with Virtual-Awakening. This work just gets better and better.
From S.A.D. to Glad with Dr Tamara Russell, Saturday 9th February, 14:00-17:00
Join Dr Tamara Russell, Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence to explore a variety of “brain-wise” applied mindfulness tools to transform any situation. Further details and booking link.