People Should Enjoy Themselves More Often

So. Much. Yoga.

Ashtanga yoga. Yoga for athletes. Hot yoga. Prenatal yoga. Yoga in the morning. Restorative yoga. Yoga that kicks my ass. Yoga that makes me laugh. The Yoga Sutras. Don’t-try-this-at-home yoga. Yoga for children. Yoga for sinus infections.

Yoga, with every single bellowing breath.

Even when I’m doing something that’s not yoga, I’m still practicing yoga. Needless to say, I have really been enjoying this life lately. I have been busy in one sense–I’m constantly studying, practicing, and thinking, but not so busy in another–with exceptions to the little time spent with my roommates, friends, fellow yogis, and Alex, I am by myself. I am alone.

I’ve always been one of those people that loves spending time alone. I used to hate going to school when I was really young because the teacher thought I was weird if I wanted to play by myself. Me wanting to be alone was the kind of thing that caused raised eye brows, psychological testing, and parent-teacher conferences. My little mind quickly learned: being alone=bad, being with others=good. We were all taught this, in a subconscious, can’t do anything about it kind of way. This is how we learn almost everything dealing with social interaction.

When we learn that basic “being alone=bad” rule, our minds cling to this and we accept it as truth. Now, when we are in a situation where we find ourselves to be alone, either mentally or physically, that “being alone=bad” trigger goes off in our brain. We get scared. We flee, away from solitude and toward other people, toward anything at all. And when we can’t find those things, another trigger goes off. The brain goes into Oh Shit Mode and we don’t know the deactivation code. We get anxious, sad, depressed. We get lonely.

The brain cannot be blamed for automatically thinking that being alone is a negative thing. Our minds don’t have the capacity to assess every experience as something entirely new and unknown. So, we create a mental filing cabinet filled with things we think we know about certain people, situations. When presented with a situation, we pull out one of those files and then act in the way it says to. Stereotyping is our brain’s way to save mental energy.

And that is the first and probably only time I will ever put my psychology minor to use.

Sometimes though, the information that our mind gives us is wrong. Especially in the case of finding yourself alone. Being alone, for me, has been a very good thing. I have always seen it this way. I like walking around Savannah (it’s a really good city for aimless walks), studying, running, reading, writing, observing, laying in the park. Just me and my breath, straight up kickin’ it.

Try it. Be alone. People won’t look at you funny, they won’t wonder why you aren’t surrounded by your bffs, they won’t look down upon you for not having some beautiful significant other’s hand to hold. They probably won’t notice you. We aren’t as interesting as we like to think we are.

Now that I’ve spent some time here, I realized something funny. Something ironic and backwards.

The more time I spend alone, the less lonely I become.

Weird, I know. But it’s the truth. You’d think it would be inevitable in my situation, that throat-lumping moment of realization as I lay down to sleep at night, that silence, so vast. Alone.

It isn’t inevitable. Alone doesn’t have to be scary. Alone, after all, isn’t scary. Don’t let your kindergarden teachers fool you. I’ve become closer and more connected to the people in my life lately, and I really believe that I have solitude to thank for that.

Go sit somewhere by yourself. Make yourself a four-course meal. Go shopping. Write. Dance. Breathe.

Oh Shit Mode, deactivated.

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