IS ISOLATION BAD, When Your All Alone?
Updated: Apr 8, 2020
Some people like to be alone. I’m not one of them. Ironically, I do spend a lot of time by myself but I’m not lonely. I’m busy in thought and action (although mi esposa would disagree).
I'm just too busy in my veggie garden, or with my music and of course writing…no tengo tiempo para limpiar el garage, tirar la basura, ni wash the ventanas o el coche!
I am fortunate because I recognize that there are many people that don’t have those choices. Especially when isolated from others. Those unfortunates are in hospitals, senior living centers, juvenile detention, jails and prisons. If they could, they’d probably want to be somewhere else. I say probably, only because a few actually want to be there…for the company that they would not have otherwise.
Being alone, isolated from others, can feel like a cold sharp wind striking your heart and slapping you in the face. Think about a time that you were involuntarily isolated from others. Was it during an illness? Or when you voluntarily retreated to a secluded place to focus on homework? Maybe to pray or meditate?
Isolation, however, isn’t the same as seclusion or solitude. It’s a state of aloneness in which you truly feel cut off from others because of your location and/or emotions.
This is especially true in times of personal turbulence or right now with the pandemic thrust upon us. Some are scared of what the Covid-19 will do to our country, most are pissed off because their routines have been decimated. The instinct for survival demands people to reach, outside of themselves for support.
Check out Facebook and Instagram what do you see? People seeking humanity towards all. Instead, what do we find at the market? Mostly, stubborn selfishness to meet Maslow's bottom line perspective on human behavior, survival. Some sociologists argue that when people are experiencing crisis it’s not always just about them; it’s about how they think they are doing, compared to the rest of society. Which could explain why people are hoarding toilet paper! "I'm full of shit, no you are!"
Órale, I know you’re asking, “Espérate ese, de que estas hablando?” Mira, when we are able to see ourselves outside of our everyday social context in life (work, relationships, religion, the homies, pinche selfies, etc) we can see, how we are shaped by it. But if we hang on tightly to our views on life, then we blind ourselves and have nothing new we can build upon. Yeah, I said it…we are blinded by our own beliefs!
Many of us have deep religious and/or social beliefs that forms and informs our behaviors, que no? That is why, we won’t do bad things because we don't wanna go to hell. The same applies to people who have profound beliefs about political parties, about immigrants, about cultures, and race relations. Those views also influence behaviors. Good and bad.
The pandemic has not changed all that mierda, but it has provided, albeit unwanted, a time to reflect on our personal views of life. We may be in a mental state of confusion that social distancing has forced upon us. Yet, we forget the alternative …mejor solo que mal acompañado. Just don't let your loneliness make you crazy and begin having imaginary amigos!
Matthew Bowker, a psychoanalytic political theorist at Medaille College who has researched solitude, notes “It’s a deeper internal process.” Productive solitude requires internal exploration, a kind of labor which can be uncomfortable, even excruciating. Instead, we unconsciously avoid it.
Bowker laments, “every time we have a chance to go running, we plug in our headphones. Every time we sit in the car… I mean, my students today tell me they can’t go to the bathroom without their phone on.” Don’t blush, you know your texting or checking emails or the latest Instagram post while sitting on the baño! Ugh, your so disgusting! Lava tus manos!
Many great thinkers have championed the intellectual and spiritual benefits of solitude–Lao Tzu, Moses (Of locusts and honey fame), Nietzsche, Emerson, and Woolf. Yet, many of us are hell-bent on avoiding it. We have a distrust of solitude. Bowker contends, “We’re drawn to identity-markers and to groups that help us define [ourselves]. In the simplest terms, this means using others to fill out our identities, rather than relying on something internal, something that comes from within.”
Shouldn’t we embrace the Corona Virus-time, of being alone? To experience and discover ourselves? We need to build what psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott called the “capacity to be alone.” A self-strengthening belief that you’re gonna survive, that you’re gonna be okay, even if you’re not supported by any group.
Even a pandemic that has forced us to be isolated, conceivably for another couple of months [See link below] should be time enough for us to catch up with long forgotten chores and cleaning. But it also is a chance for all of us to catch up with cleansing our minds.! Solitude can be restorative!
Here is PuroChisme’s solution for loneliness based, in part, on the book, The way of Qigong, by Kenneth S. Cohen (Gao Han), a world-renowned health educator, China scholar, and Qigong Grandmaster.
Qigong (also spelled Ch’i Kung) is a powerful system of healing and energy medicine from China. It is the art and science of using breathing techniques, gentle movement, and meditation to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate life energy (qi). Qigong practice leads to better health and vitality and a tranquil state of mind.
We blended some of the basic tenets of Qigong with our Native Elder and Curandera teachings to come up with our own solitude technique, called "Chingon" de PuroChisme:
1. Standing or sitting meditation 10 minutes a day – 5 minutes in the AM and 5 minutes in the PM. It’s not easy…maybe start at 2min to 3min…work your way up to 5.
2. Here is the hard part of meditation; Close your ojos and stop thinking about anything! No sounds…just silence.
3. The only thing you should be focusing on is your breathing. Slow and relaxed.
4. Drop your shoulders, hold your hands out around waist high, hands cupped in, like your holding another box from Amazon. Only cinco minutos, come on do it!
5. After your meditation; Walk, stretch, run, lo que sea, pero exercise huevon!
6. Eat healthy! Put down the chicharones, queso y tabasco sauce and try eating veggies and any fresh fruit in season. Don’t tell me, “No puedo…its scary out there…the Costco line is too long…fruit makes my pansa hurt! Remember what the Star Wars sabio, YODA would say, “Do or do not, There is no try.”
There is no science behind this, more of a philosophical-spiritual approach that has been practiced for centuries. Check out Scott Jefferies, Zhan-Zhuang website [link below] on Standing Meditation.
If you wanna be mellow-mental in times of crisis and act affirmatively, mastering Standing Meditation will be an amazing gift to yourself. If you like yourself now, you'll love yourself even more (if that's possible). And, when you're happy, everyone else around you will benefit too!
Mira, we all have problems – even in the middle of a national crisis – so stop worrying about it. We want you to have a plan to fix YOU before things get back to the ‘new’ normal in this loco universe. Only then, should you dare want to tackle daily problems and continue with your regular Netflix binge-watching!
In these times of social-distancing, Gustavo Arellano's Weekly, makes a good argument for trying something new... "people too often settle for what’s offered instead of what’s deserved, someone put it better: too often, we seek the transactional instead of looking at the possibility to make something transformative."
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings. March 15, 2020 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Virtues of Isolation: Under the right circumstances, choosing to spend time alone can be a huge psychological boon. Brent Crane, The Atlantic. March 30, 2017 https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/03/the-virtues-of-isolation/521100/