Meditation for loneliness
Do you deal with feelings of loneliness and isolation on a regular basis? There’s no reason to be embarrassed if you do, because, for one reason, it’s normal, and very human, to feel lonely. Of course, that’s easy to say. The emotion of loneliness can be a strong one, and we tend to struggle most in life when we believe we’re going through things on our own, believing no one else will understand — a belief which exacerbates our sense of isolation.
But it’s important to remember that you are not alone in experiencing this mindset ... and a mindset is what it is. Increasing numbers of people admit to feeling disconnected, isolated, and friendless at some time or another. According to a YouGov survey of 1,254 Americans over the age of 18, 30% of millennials said they felt lonely "often" or "always." It’s not just a millennial issue, though — research also shows that 20% to 40% of older adults suffer from loneliness, while one in 10 people in the UK claim to be entirely friendless. These statistics show that loneliness affects millions of people of all ages.
Loneliness doesn’t just affect us on a mental and emotional level — it can have a real effect on our physical well-being and is linked to an increased risk for heart disease and stress. How? Loneliness causes a stress response that not only negatively impacts the immune system, but also causes inflammation, which in turn can cause issues such as Alzheimer’s disease. So, whatever tools we have at our disposal to battle those negative effects, we should absolutely use — and meditation is one of those tools.
What a meditation for loneliness allows us to do is to understand what it means to be lonely, what lies behind the origins of this emotion, and how we can feel more connected to the world around us.
At Headspace, we believe in the importance of learning the difference between loneliness and being alone, and these distinctions are important as we start to shift our perspective, reconnect with ourselves, and then reconnect with the outside world. Being and feeling connected to others appears to be essential for our health and well-being.
"We evolved to be social creatures. Thousands of years ago, if you were connected to other people, you were more likely to have a stable food supply and to be protected from predators," says former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. "So when you're disconnected, you're in a stress state. When that happens chronically, it can have a profound impact on your health. The fundamental thing is this: We have for years thought about ourselves as an individualistic society that champions individual achievement, but what the data around loneliness tells us more and more is we're truly interdependent creatures, and ultimately, we need each other."
Whatever has created or caused the feeling of loneliness within you, a meditation for loneliness doesn’t encourage us to move away from what you are feeling; nor does it look for a solution. Instead, you will be encouraged to explore and investigate the feeling in order to find a sense of ease, without letting the emotion take you down.
Meditation is such a personal, singular thing to do that it might be strange to think of it as a group activity — but that’s just what Headspace offers with Everybody Headspace. Everybody Headspace is a real-time, streaming meditation series where Headspace Plus subscribers can take part in guided meditation every 30 minutes, all day. So you get the myriad benefits of meditating and taking time for yourself, to focus on yourself, coupled with the knowledge that at that exact moment in time, a whole group of like-minded strangers are meditating too.
The Headspace app is one of very few things you can have on your phone that is entirely positive — instead of social networking or other things that might make you feel bad, the Headspace app offers you the chance to have guided meditation wherever and whenever you want.
Try these free meditations to help with feelings of loneliness.
Reframing Loneliness - Session 1