The feeling of loneliness
Loneliness - a universal "condition" that many of us face at one or several points in our lives. Being "alone" can be experienced in different ways which have very similar emotions:
- Physical separation - this is loneliness due to not having anyone around
- Energetic disconnect - this is independent of how many people are around us or if we are physically alone, when we energetically disconnect we feel like we are cut off of existence. What becomes so painful is the feeling of "there's me" and then there's this whole "other" world where everyone is happy and together. We feel like we are on the wrong side of the glass.
- Internal fragmentation - this is the phenomenon of internal splitting. Every time we incur a trauma, a piece of us breaks off the remaining part of us and usually we suppress it. Considering that we get traumatised quite a few times in our lives, especially in childhood, the number of internal splits can be quite large. Every time we deny a part of ourselves we are energetically pushing it away from the remaining part. And what happens as we push? We ourselves take a couple of steps away from the part we pushed due to the reaction of the pushing force. So the gap between our internal parts widens with every push. So you can see the picture - we are lonely within ourselves. The gaps are too big. I highly recommend Teal Swan's book "The Anatomy of Loneliness" which explains this in detail and offers ways to heal from within.
Loneliness or solitude?
As much as some of us dread the idea of loneliness, it is the flip side of the coin to solitude. Solitude immediately puts us in a whole different physical vibration. Solitude is the place where yogis and other spiritual seekers find themselves, enlightenment and everything else in between. Solitude is the magical state where realisation happens, awareness is at its purest.
Let's focus on solitude for a moment. It puts a smile on my face. It feels like relief, peace. Ahhhhh :-) So what is solitude? Perhaps we can say solitude is a state of engagement with oneself. There is no sense of separation or disconnection. And by happily being at one, we are open to the experience of oneness, connection beyond physical distance. It is an endless, eternal connection.
But this connection with everything might not come in the flavour you expected it to be. Many years ago I was completely overwhelmed with the sense of space - the void - nothingness, which was so vast I could barely breathe. I didn't understand at the time what this was and what I should do. All I wanted was to make it stop. I now see that I had a magical insight into the universe and a chance to feel its magnificence. Ultimately what we make of such an experience is how we interpret it - it can be positive or negative.
The other big difference is that solitude is by choice whereas loneliness feels forced upon us. Who chooses to be lonely?
Loneliness the illusion of the mind
With the current Covid19 situation in the world I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us are suddenly being confronted with unknown lonely territory. For example, I work from home. Most of my work is solitary which I highly enjoy. But to balance that I have a very rich active counterpart. Yoga, salsa dancing and dog activities are what make me feel alive. All of these have lots of human contact and connection and on top of that we get to share something beautiful. But due to the lockdown it’s mostly gone - it suddenly stopped. We meet online. And now my day to day life is more solitary than I was used to. On top of that I am restricted in my own flat as I have the builders here. So I can’t paint and feed my creativity. For those of us who can’t flick a switch to change our environment what to do?
Just remember one thing: Loneliness or separation is an illusion. It is the mind that perceives separateness not our true being. At a fundamental level there is no disconnect from anything.
And what about that void? Well if we look at it from a quantum physics point of view there is no such thing as emptiness - even the vacuum has a fluctuating energy field. The trick is to harness that energy and create something out of it! Imagine the vast infinite potential of what so-called “emptiness” can give birth to. If we can communicate with that energy and be one, how could we possibly feel alone?
How to turn an isolating experience into a beautiful practise:
- Yoga & Meditation - we need to step out of the “state” we are in. Take some time to breathe, to relax, to just be. Connect to our awareness, that which transcends the three dimensional worlds and all of its limitations. Practise some physical Hatha yoga. Let the postures open you up to new possibilities.
- Gratitude - there is never a time where gratitude is not a good idea! Be thankful for everything you have. Even if it’s something very small. Little things add up quickly and build into a gigantic positive energy. Make a list every morning and evening of all of the things you are grateful for.
- Prayer - you can also call it the practise of giving the very thing you wish to receive. By sending something out to others first, you will in turn receive that very thing back in its own way. The more you crave something, the more you can give it.
- Self love through acceptance - stop fighting what you feel. Sometimes the very thing that makes us feel uncomfortable or down right miserable might be the very thing we need to heal a major aspect of ourselves which can set us free! And by free I mean cross over to the spiritual side! It’s ok to not be able to function. It’s ok to stay in bed for a day if that makes you feel safe. It’s also ok to follow the sunshine and just go somewhere spontaneously.
- Heart practise - connecting to the spiritual Heart. As a society a lot of us tend to live with closed Hearts and an overactive mind. So how about we reverse that? Open our Hearts and allow the mind to rest in it? If you would like to know more about Heart Practise feel very welcome to join one of my Finding Peace classes. LINK You can also read more on the Heart of Living Yoga’s website where its founder Padma Devi shares her wisdom.
The thing is sure, spiritual growth and awakening does not come by having your cake and eating it. Often we find ourselves in impossible situations and it’s almost a question of survival for us to do something differently, to discover something “other”.
Actually if you don’t know where to begin or what to do one simple thing is magical: go and be in nature. Just experience. Feel. Breathe. Smile :-)
I came across a lovely article on loneliness and the author shared a variation on the Buddhist practise called Metta Bhavana meditation or “cultivation of loving - kindness”. It is something you feel in your Heart :-)
Here’s the Buddhist Metta Bhavana version with edited affirmations:
- Feel Metta for yourself - sit yourself in a comfortable seated position or lie down if your body is in pain. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Feel your own loneliness. Embrace it, hold it. Breathing in “let” breathing out “go”, breathing in “let” breathing out “love”, breathing in “let” breathing out “God’
- Feel Metta for a good friend
- Bring awareness to someone who you neither like nor dislike
- Place your awareness on someone you dislike or find very difficult
- Bring yourself, your friend, the neutral person and the dislike all together and as one send out Metta to your building, your town, your country, your continent, our planet, our galaxy, until you reach the entire universe.