How to Overcome Loneliness - A Guest Blog by Ashley Dunlop

Introduction by Paul Garrett -

Four weeks ago a friend on Instagram wrote a thought provoking post about loneliness that grabbed my attention. In it she cited a statistic that “FORTY-EIGHT PERCENT of the population self-describes as lonely.” I’ve spent a lot of time on my own in the past few years and I’ve dealt with loneliness and come to appreciate the difference between it and solitude.

I asked Ashley if she would be interested in sharing her experience with loneliness and luckily for all of us, Ashely was happy to write the beautiful words that you will read below this introduction. Ashley Dunlop is a yoga teacher, teacher trainer and yoga business insider from San Francisco and who currently resides in Atlanta. She uses yoga, meditation and life coaching techniques to help others recalibrate from within and restore a natural state of balance, creativity and inspiration. You can connect with Ashley via Instagram or at www.ashleydunlop.com. Without further delay, let me present Ashley Dunlop in her own words.

Paul

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Loneliness by Ashley Dunlop

I'm no stranger to open space. I mean this in the energetic sense - the feeling that comes with being alone. In a foreign place, devoid of familiarity. I've moved cities and countries enough times to have become well acquainted with being by myself. And yet, when I think about the last times I felt lonely, it wasn't so much when I found myself in my own company, but rather, when I was in an ill-fitted partnership. Isn't that interesting? This clearly illustrates to me something I already knew conceptually but grounds it in experience: to be alone and to be lonely are not the same thing. The correlation feels increasingly loose, the better I know myself. 

Photo of Ashley by Britt James.    Click Here    to see more of Britt’s beautiful portraits on Instagram.

Photo of Ashley by Britt James. Click Here to see more of Britt’s beautiful portraits on Instagram.

To me, what might have once felt "lonely" has been replaced with the word "spacious" and I do not hold a negative judgment of it. It isn't good or bad, it just is, and it's temporary. If I find that I am not enjoying any aspect of my life, that it's helpful to remember that it's completely within my power to make decisions to change it. Inspired action, in this sense, is important. To notice what isn't working and to dive deep inside (meditation helps tremendously here) to work from the inside out... this is key. When I feel at peace internally, I view the world through a peaceful lens, and what I desire comes much more easily to me. In this state, I make choices that are much more in line with where I want to go. 


To speak practically: I heard a staggering statistic recently that nearly half of people self-describe as lonely often. My mind immediately went to my yoga classes: how many of the students who walk through the doors are feeling isolated? Is it naiive of me to think that perhaps this statistic is much lower in yoga communities? I find that even when I'm in a new place, to walk into a new yoga studio often feels like walking into a different version of a place I already know. One can, at the very least, expect kindness and a sense of unity that, without yoga - I'm not sure where I would go to find it. 


But surely, the same sense could be replicated with any sort of interest that brings people together: a running club, meet up groups, etc. It is in our nature to desire a sense of belonging - and it's helpful to remember that what you are seeking is seeking you too. 

- Ashley Dunlop

Photography by Britt James

Photography by Britt James


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