Rediscovering the Joy of Solitude
Embracing Isolation, a four-part online series of webinars, was aired on 5 December to an audience of 111 viewers. Part One, ‘Being Alone: Isolation or Retreat’ was chaired by Dr Kala Mistry, community psychiatrist and convenor and host of the series, with guest speaker’s Dr Mina Bobdey a community psychiatrist, Maggi Parle, a retired hospital social worker, Reena Raj, positive psychology coach, and Sharon O’Regan, a community project worker who energised the viewers with an array of practical techniques to awaken dormant energy.
Mina outlined the factors that increase loneliness, resulting in or contributing to chronic illness, and how loneliness can decrease life expectancy. Being physically isolated or with others who have different values and opinions also were factors that could lead to feelings of isolation. She mentioned that loneliness led to the UK government appointing a Loneliness Minister to the Cabinet. She also related her personal experience of her parents in India, their close connection to their community and how they had multiple opportunities to be in contact with family, friends and neighbours on a daily basis .
Maggie Parle spoke about her own experience in managing isolation, drawing deep strength from meditation and connecting each day with the natural world by creating and maintaining a garden. This brought with it a sense of adventure and a focus of interest in her life. Being of service also gave her joy and the feeling of being useful to others created opportunities for personal contact and conversations. Maggie also described using little ‘positive drops of thought’ to help dispel melancholia.
The last speaker, Reena Raj, shared six ways to promote well-being: connect with people; get active to exercise the body and elevate mood; give to others, an activity that generates its own reward; be creative—sing, write, paint, cook—anything that generates a sense of achievement; take notice –by being in the present we can detach from past worries; keep learning to maintain an active brain.
Reena ended the session by guiding the group through a visualisation she called ‘Cave versus Retreat’. This helped to create the awareness that by shifting our perspective, time on our own can be experienced in a more positive way.
Sources of Further Information
Recordings of these sessions are on our Lectures page under “Events”.