Having booked an Air BnB for a month, I arrived in Spain in early April with the intention of really just taking some time out alone to pause and reflect on the past year or two, particularly in terms of the career change out of corporate and into mindfulness.  I wanted to just let the dust (or as I like to say in yoga class, the snow globe) settle and just check in with myself and where things were at.  Mindfulness practice has taught me that calm brings clarity and so I set out to create some calm.

 

Today, 84 days on, I’m eventually moving out of my Air BnB after extending my stay to it’s maximum and I’m moving to a longer term rental apartment further south on the Costa del Sol for the next 11 months.  As I relay my plans to people, I’m generally met with one of two types of reactions (1) the “you must be having a great time drinking Sangria by the pool every day” or (2) the more caring “are you not lonely by yourself over there?”.  These got me reflecting again …

 

First off, I haven’t dipped in a pool here yet although I do sit on the beach to meditate a lot!  And the last drink I had was a Bailey’s with my Mam at the fire on the night before I left for Spain.  I think not drinking here has been one of the things I am most proud of, especially with it being so freely available at any hour or in any coffee shop.  It reflects a huge change in me over the past few years.  As anyone who knows me a long time could attest, I was fairly “fond of the drink”.   Fairly typical, no doubt… living for the weekends for boozy nights out and medicating with glasses of wine for stress relief outside of that.  At the time, I saw nothing wrong with it, thinking everyone doing much the same sure!  But looking back now, and having equipped myself with a mindfulness based introspection tool kit, I understand that drinking, for me, was an avoidance of feelings strategy.  And it’s a topic that deserves a dedicated review in the future perhaps. 

 

For now, I’m going to link it to the “are you not lonely by yourself over there?” question.  In my drinking days, there was always people around, packed pubs & plenty of social events with booze to choose from.  Ironically, I felt more loneliness in these crowds than I have ever felt living on my own.  Back then, I was afraid to look at myself, I hated what I saw at the surface never mind going any further!

 

But through mindfulness based work, I have built trust and a really good relationship with myself.  I like my own company now.  I believe that the source of loneliness is disconnection from myself, for example, when what I’m doing and saying are misaligned, or when my physical, emotional and mental fuel tank is depleted from not taking care of myself.  When I’m disconnected with myself, it is impossible to connect deeply with others.  I just cannot give to another what I don’t have for myself and the result is loneliness.

 

So no, I’m not drinking Sangria in Spain  and I’m delighted to say that I’m definitely not drinking to mask any loneliness – because I don’t feel lonely!  Meditation keeps me aligned and connected with myself, which affords me the energy and capacity to enjoy making connections with others.  Yes, there is definitely less quantity of people around since I’ve dropped the drink but there is significantly more genuine connection, clarity and calm.