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The Difference Between Alone and Lonely

There is a huge difference between choosing to be alone and being lonely.

Choosing to be alone means that you extract yourself from the company of others to be quiet, to meditate or rejuvenate. If you are an introvert the alone time might be mandatory for your wellbeing and growth. To go into your bubble and regenerate, to feel alive and refreshed.

To be lonely is to feel as though you do not have a support structure around you that can uplift you and guide you. To feel as though you are removed from or remote from human companionship. This of course can be a very bleak and depressing feeling.

Recently I went on a trip to London on my own with the belief that this is what I needed. My husband was very supportive of my doing my annual solo expedition. I was excited to have a whole two weeks to myself, I was going to explore the art galleries without children moaning about seeing yet another one! I was going to go to ancient bookshops that held ancient wisdom from the esoteric, new age and occult. I was going to explore old cobble streets in London and get a feel of its very old history. And mostly I was going to reconnect with myself. I was choosing to do this alone.

I learned so much about the feelings of being alone and being lonely. I have been a mom to two boys for the past seventeen years and I have been married for twenty so this was my first solo expedition on my own to another country that was not about business, a conference or a set agenda. This was time for me to explore, write, be with my own company because I wanted to know what that felt like. I got to explore the cobble streets, bookshops and galleries as I wanted to, met friends for lunches and dinners. What I did not expect was the feeling of loneliness to creep in and paint itself firmly within me. I wasn't quite sure what to do with this feeling, it was foreign to me. I had not met it before!

I feel such compassion towards my clients and friends who have talked about this feeling of loneliness. Finally I could truly understand what they meant, you can be surrounded by friends and family, you can get to do the things you want to do yet you can still feel lonely! I knew then that in order for me to make peace with this part of me that felt so bleak was to be with it and feel it and ask it what it needed from me? To do this I sat daily in meditation and I took long meditative walks in the parks and allowed myself to feel vulnerable.

Here is what I came to understand:

  • When I feel this way I can reach out and connect with my friends and family and tell them how I'm feeling, this means that I have to be vulnerable yet honest with myself and them.

  • I can choose to meditate and rejuvenate in nature.

  • Walks in the park or your garden can be a meditation, the Buddhists call this walking meditations. When I walk, I unplug from all devices and instead listen to the sound of my own breathing. I listen to the sound of the leaves as they crunch under my feet. I listen to the sound of the birds and the trees. At this point I am meditating. To read more about walking or sitting meditations, look at the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.

  • I can join a group or meet up - people who might have similar interests as I do.

  • I can join a meditation group or circle. I run a meditation circle for women who are on a spiritual quest, follow the link above to join our community.

  • I can write/journal, draw, paint, dance, talk or sing with a friend or within a group.

What I learned was that when I stayed with the feeling that was scary and uncomfortable it passed and I moved into a different feeling, one of acceptance and ease.

I have also learned that my annual retreat is the healthiest thing I can do for myself, nurturing myself and stopping to listen to what I need. It is how I reconnect with myself.

As I walked in silent meditation with myself in St James Park in London, I wrote this poem. I realized that this was a meditation for me because I was completely present in every moment as I wrote:

" I watch the leaves rustling through the trees. The Fall leaves are shades of green, yellow, orange and rust.

The birds fly over the water fountain in the middle of the stream next to the trees whose leaves rustle.

The sky is full as grey clouds hang low overhead.

The coots glide over the surface of the water.

The gentle ripples as the wind whispers over the water.

A few brown leaves float over me as I sit and observe nature.

She is so peaceful with her surroundings.

That same wind that whispers over the surface of the water, weaves its fine fingers through my hair, lifting it into the air around me.

My lungs fill with it's strength and power, so gentle yet so strong,

It has the power of reaching deep down into my lungs and filling it.

I sip my warm coffee, feeling it warm my insides. Tasting the slight bitterness of its flavor and the earthiness of it's aroma, the rich creaminess of the frothy milk.

I close my eyes and simply let the wind fill me."

Until my next blog,



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