According to research published by International Psychogeriatrics, three-quarters of people experience moderate to high levels of loneliness [source]. But meditation can help.
We all know what it is like to feel alone in the world, that damp sadness that permeates the spirit when we feel lile we have no one. It is a terrible way to feel. That’s why I created the meditation script below.
Meditation for Loneliness
1: Sit comfortably with good posture
To begin, find a quiet place where you can sit without being disturbed. Sit comfortably with good posture and simply breathe for a few moments.
2: Start mindful breathing. Simply observe your breath moving through your body for a few minutes.
Become aware of the process of breathing. Let your breath flow in through your nose and go deep into your abdomen. In other words: do diaphragmatic breathing.
Take 25 breaths mindfully, just being aware of your breath moving through your body. This will induce your relaxation response and quieten your mind.
Now, notice how there are various thoughts and feelings in your mind. Observe these. Do not judge them as “good” or “bad”. Do not fight them. Do not cling to them. Just let them come and go as they will, while you observe them.
3: Be consciously aware of the feeling of loneliness
Be aware of your thoughts and feelings. Simply observe them and label them (saying to yourself, “This is just a thought” or “This is just a feeling”).
Now notice that one of the feelings in your mind is loneliness. Can you sense this feeling inside you? Observe it. Notice how it feels. Don’t let yourself sink into it. Don’t be affected by it. Just observe it.
Now remind yourself that it is just a feeling. Nothing more. The feeling of loneliness is just an emotion. It isn’t a “real thing”. It is simply a mental state.
There is a difference between loneliness and being alone (aloneness).
Loneliness is a mental state that is marked by a dissociation between what people want in a relationship and what they actually experience in that relationship, according to research published in Cambridge University Press.
Loneliness (the feeling) is not caused by actually being alone. Some people have very many friends and a close family but feel alone anyway. And some people have no one but do not experience the mental state of loneliness.
When we use meditation for loneliness, we recognise the nature of this emotional condition. That is, the fact that it is an emotion in the mind and nothing more.
4: Let the feeling of loneliness exist without reacting to it
Notice how at times that feeling of loneliness comes and goes. Like a wave on the shore, sometimes it comes up close, and other times it fades into the distance. Notice its undulating state. Notice how when it comes, it also goes. This is normal and natural. Emotions come and go, but we tend to dwell on them. Do not dwell. Instead, let the feeling come, observe it coming, and then let it go and observe it going. This will teach you to be less reactive to feelings of loneliness.
5: Now bring to mind times when you have felt a positive connection to other people and practise Loving Kindness Meditation
Now that we have trained the mind to be less reactive to the feeling of loneliness, we want to reconnect with the people in our lives.
To do this we will practise Loving Kindness Meditation. We will do this for ten minutes.
Read this guide to Loving Kindness Meditation to learn how to do it.
Loving Kindness is essential because it trains the mind to think of other people in a positive way rather than in a negative way.
The University of Chicago researched the neuroscience of loneliness. They discovered that a lonely brain constantly scans the environment looking for social threats. If you’re lonely, your mind is hunting for hostility. And naturally, this is not going to help you overcome loneliness. Indeed, this is why attempting to socialize more won’t solve the problem because when you socialise you’re looking at everyone as a threat.
However, this is also the great thing about using Loving Kindness Meditation for loneliness. It trains the mind to look for signs of friendliness, not hostility.
We need to remember that loneliness is a mental state. Too often, we focus simply on the reality of literally being alone. But in fact, this is not the root of the problem. We know this because many people actually are alone but are still happy.
The problem is an emotional one. The feeling of loneliness is the issue. Because not only does this feeling cause the emotional pain associated with the problem, but it also causes us to dissociate from other people.
Meditation can help.
We can use meditation to replace that negative feeling with more positive emotions. For instance, the feeling of being connected to others.
The meditation for loneliness, above, will help you to take control of the underlying emotional problem. In turn, this will help you to stop being alone and to develop relationships.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison