[Yes it’s a while between my 31 Day series posts … like ages!! Getting there though … and I’m planning to put them into a book soon too]
Some time ago I wrote a post about being alone versus loneliness. It got me thinking about all the things I really enjoy doing alone. The list is quite long, so my resistance to the “idea”of being alone may be more the issue than actually being alone. I’ll explore that further at a later stage in my ponderings.
[N.B. This post was drafted some time ago. These days I actually enjoy being alone in many cases]
What I thought might be useful to those of you out there dealing with similar “aloneness” to my own, especially those people living with CFS / ME or other chronic “spoonie” illness, is to explore some of the great parts of life I find refreshing to the mind, body and spirit that are all done alone. Some of the following activities mentioned can also be done in a group, but I know they lift my spirit whether I’m alone or in a group.
5 Enjoyable Activities To Do Alone*
Admittedly something I don’t do as much of as I would like to. Over the years I have explored many versions of meditation. In my younger years I struggled with the whole “stilling the mind” concept, and found that traditional ways of meditation were very challenging to me – that is, sitting in the lotus position and trying to think of nothing. Well, that’s the interpretation I gave it at the time.
Since then I have heard many people say that it is impossible to completely still the mind, which frankly has come as quite a relief to me. So, in those earlier days I found guided meditations on a tape (yes, that far back!) were of great benefit because they gave me something to focus on. I still got the relaxing benefits of the meditation, but didn’t have the stress of wondering if I was going to “get” it and have the mystical white light experience.
I was also thrilled to learn that simple walking could be considered a form of meditation. And now, ironically, these days when I meditate I prefer to sit in the lotus position and have no sound, focusing on the dark space at the back of my eyes – I think that’s what some refer to as the third eye, but I may be wrong. After a short time sitting like this I feel a change in my conscious state, a sort of calmness that washes over me, and it is a feeling I often do not want to come out of. And sometimes I’ve even had that mystical white-light experience!! 🙂
So, for me, meditation is a very useful tool in managing CFS and pain, and I enjoy doing it alone.
I love listening to music. It definitely feeds the soul, in my experience. And depending on my mood and what day it is, I am drawn to many different types of music. I love to sing along and even dance along when I have the energy. I love that feeling when the music seems to get inside your body and just take it over. I’m not really thinking about what movements I’m making, I just let the music take my body along where it wants to take it. That might sound a bit wishy-washy, but I think most people would know what I mean.
When I’ve been too ill to move very much at all, I have still found music to be a hugely soothing balm to my mind and heart. I have recently taken my first singing lesson to see if I can actually learn to sing a song well and then do it in public (I turned 40 at the end of 2012, and that is one of the things on my 40 bucket list). Singing is something I think can lift you up when you’re feeling down – as long as your energy levels allow it. If not, that’s when you let someone else do the singing and you just enjoy the end result. See this post for 25 Songs I find very uplifting to my spirit.
Playing a musical instrument is another great way to use music as an alone activity. I used to play a lot of piano when I was young, and have recently “re-learned” it a little, since my daughter started having lessons and I bought her a keyboard. I’ve always found playing piano very calming and therapeutic.
I’ve always loved creating art, and I generally prefer pencil and dry pastel work, though I have painted too. I just find that grey-lead pencil and dry pastels are so portable, and easy to set up and pack up. This helps when you have little energy or run out of it quickly (like most people with CFS / ME do!).
Writing has been a love of mine since I could first write. I started writing daily in a diary when I was about 12 years old, and continued that for many years, while also pouring my heart out in long journal pieces. I also started writing poetry back the, and still do – mostly free-form stuff, not rhyming – and often not very good either ;-).
Journalling and poetry writing have helped get through some tough emotional times (and some great times too!). I find it very therapeutic to just spill out my feelings onto a page (or Word document!), often knowing that the feeling I’m having are transitory, and I don’t really mean half of what I’m writing. At times I just need to vent, then go about my business, having let go of all those feelings once I’ve vented.
If you worry about someone reading your ‘venting’, and taking it the wrong way, just write it, clear out the feelings from inside your head, then shred or burn the paper (or delete the document if it’s on a computer!).
These days I also write in the form of blogging – as you may have noticed! My blogging is more aimed at helping others than helping myself, but sometimes when I write about certain tough times in my life with CFS and electrosensitivity, with the hope of helping others, I find that ‘facing my demons’ in that way sometimes helps complete something for me too, and can be very cathartic.
With reading, you can do it alone OR in company, and still go off into a whole new world! I’ve loved reading FOREVER! It is an escape into whatever yo wish to escape into – whether it be fiction (can’t beat a bit of Diana Gabaldon!) or non-fiction. Whether you’re learning how to do something or reading about history – with reading you can go all around the world without leaving your couch (or bed!). Plus, with the advent of audiobooks (oh, how I love Audible!), you can even “read” with your eyes closed or while doing housework, gardening or driving. The world’s your oyster with audiobooks!
Once you start thinking, there’s HEAPS of things you can do alone that are enjoyable. I’ll stick with five for simplicity, but please let me know your suggestions in the Comments section, on Facebook or via Twitter. I’d love to hear from you!
Today Action Step
Choose one of these ‘alone activities’ that you’ve not done before, or not done for a while, and do one. Then share it with us on Twitter or Facebook!
P.S. I know that those with minds that tend towards the gutter on occasion (like mine!) may get a chuckle out of this title. If you know what I mean, yes, that’s a totally natural and enjoyable thing to do alone. If you don’t know what I mean, better I don’t say anymore :-).