Find a comfortable seated position. Try to find a spot that you haven’t sat in over the last ten months.

Let yourself sink into the ground. Feel the weight of your body, your ideal body. Not the one you have right now. You ate too much last year and you don’t have your mother’s cooking to blame. This year you’ll be better. Probably not.

Take a moment to become aware of the sounds around you. Tune out your next-door neighbors who won’t stop having elaborate sex, and your upstairs neighbor hosting a Bachelor watch-party that is not safe, although you would have appreciated an invite. Oh wait, is that your friend calling you from outside? No, all of your friends have moved. It’s just a talkative bird.

Let’s focus on breath. Breathe in through the nose, breathe out through the mouth. Whatever will stop you from hyperventilating. Breathe in intention. Exhale, release expectation of connection. You are certainly alone. Scan down your body. Notice any fatigue or soreness. Traditionally in meditation, one is encouraged to push past any drowsiness. However, if you can sleep, you should. After developing insomnia and only being able to sleep if you have the The Wiggles’ YouTube channel on autoplay… you need it.

Now we’ll begin the process of visualization. Imagine you’ve arrived at your family reunion. You are in the present day, but there is no chaos or global pandemic. The aroma of chicken casserole and Dial hand soap abounds as you walk into the house of your childhood. It is loud. As you sit down at the table, your mom criticizes your new haircut, your dad teases your inability to settle down, your sister reminds you you’re still a temp, and your grandma says she can smell “the club” on your clothes.

You try to escape, run towards the door, and suddenly, you’re on the dance floor. The speakers are blasting and you’re pressed against grimy, sweaty bodies. Your friends spill tequila shots all over your head as you dance because you’re the shortest one. You are wet. Young people scream in your ears and your chronic migraine intensifies as LMFAO’s beat is about to drop. Your fear of abandonment flares up as your friends pair up to dance the night away… and other graphic things in plain sight. Some weird dude with a wispy mustache starts dancing up on you.

You look for the door when you’re transported to a movie theater. Oh look, mustache guy is with you. I guess you’re on a date. Good lord, it’s the latest Studio Ghibli movie. Your seats start to rock as four children, ages three to eighteen, kick your chairs. Hard. As you turn around to scold the children, they cock their heads and say, “If life is so short, why do we do things we don’t like?” They slowly and purposefully pelt you with popcorn. Each piece of popcorn hits your face, harder and harder. You realize, like the kernel in your date’s mustache, that you are stuck.

Bring your attention back to the room and slowly open your eyes. Find gratitude in the fact that you’re alone. You never prioritized having children, your relationship has crumbled, and you don’t have to deal with your ex-roommate, Laura, clipping her fucking toenails on the couch. You are free to eat mozzarella sticks naked three meals in a row. Maybe cook them next time. You will probably never have to see your coworkers face-to-face again. And while the world around you may change, take comfort that your apartment/room/alley behind the Burger King will remain the same. Like any other year, 2021 will be bursting with new opportunities to feel lonely. Embrace it. Namaste.