Alone Time

I want you to try something.

Yes, you. I’m serious.

Take five minutes out of your day today — it doesn’t have to be right now, but it really should be sometime today — and make it your time to be alone with yourself. Just five minutes. But make sure you won’t be interrupted or distracted — don’t let your quality time with yourself be upstaged by a TV commercial or your e-mail. Set a timer on the stove or on the microwave or something, so you won’t even be distracted by looking at the clock every 30 seconds.

You don’t really have a goal in mind, or anything to think about in particular. Just be with yourself. Chill out on the couch or in a chair (or in bed, assuming you won’t fall asleep) and let your eyes kind of focus on a spot on the wall or on the ceiling. But keep them open.

Oh, and here’s something to keep your mind occupied: count to ten with your breaths. Breathe in, count one; out, count two; in, count three; and so on, up to ten, then repeat. Thoughts will kind of float in and out; don’t really focus on them, but allow them to exist for a moment. Imagine each thought is a helium balloon: hang onto it for just a second, then let it drift off and stop worrying about it.

You’re seeing through my ruse now, aren’t you? “You’re trying to get me to do some of this hippie-dippy Zen shit, aren’t you?” Well, sort of. Hanging out on the couch and staring at the ceiling for five minutes isn’t exactly zazen. If you’ve never spent any quality time with yourself, though, this is a good start.

Seriously. Try it, just once, and tell me it doesn’t make you feel more at ease with yourself.