Loneliness is one of the inescapable human conditions we all suffer from. We know its detrimental effect on our mental and physical health. Research suggests that “loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity”. An article posted in The Guardian puts it perfectly – we live in an “Age of Loneliness”.
There was a time when I felt lonely even in the midst of crowds, in the clubs, with some of the people I hanged out with and not to mention, in my own company too..! I had also gone through extreme depression due to loneliness. When I was surrounded by people, I would yearn to spend more time alone and would take a break from all the noise. When I would finally get to be in my own company, I would be so restless and would again start seeking out for people to talk to…this is the paradox of our life.
Things have changed a lot over time. I have now grown up to often experience a blissful aloneness rather than miserable loneliness. Not that I do not feel lonely anymore. But I have learnt to help myself shift my energy from completely resisting and fighting the loneliness to accepting the fact, the reality, that I feel lonely at this moment.
Whenever I live in the present moment and accept my loneliness without any resistance, I start to experience a joyful space around my loneliness rather than being immersed in it and suffer. I notice that this “space” is the result of my total acceptance of my loneliness, and the reality that, there is often nothing much to be done to make me feel different when I feel lonely, but only to accept and experience it and stop being completely identified with my loneliness as “ME”. This joyful space I often experience in my loneliness allows me to see it from a whole different perspective. And I would see how my energy is shifting from feeling miserable to the joy of being one with my self – a beautiful aloneness.
What is aloneness? In contrast to loneliness which is unpleasant, painful and miserable, aloneness is solitude, a feeling of completeness, where we discover our Self, our soul, with the realization that our soul is not alone, but is eternally connected to everything else around us, taking us to a relaxed, meditative state of joy. Aloneness is when we go beyond the mind and our body, and allowing our ego to be melt away, letting our soul to illuminate and express it’s natural, pure self, paramananda – the ultimate joy!
I recently read this beautiful hymn from Purusha Sukta (Rig Veda 10.90 – it also appears in Taittiriya Aranyaka and others…). According to this hymn, the Supreme Being is present in all of us and we are all interconnected. It says,
“The Supreme being has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet. This same One Being thinks through all the heads, walks through all the feet and breaths through all the nostrils. It is the same One Being that is everywhere and exists in every beings.”
This hymn teaches us that the God (or whichever the higher power you believe in) is always with us and is within us. If we can have this jnāna (knowledge acquired through meditation), that the God is always with us, how can we be lonely and feel miserable?
[pullquote]“Wherever you are, just relax, and repose within yourself. That is where you will find God” – Sri Sri Ravishankar[/pullquote]
How can we feel the presence of that higher power within us? Spirituality is indeed one of the best ways. It is the journey to our soul, our innermost core. Religions, philosophies, various faiths and practices, meditation, etc. are tools to help us discover our soul. Spirituality is about Being One with our Self, our soul. Through spirituality, we discover our true nature which is ultimate happiness. Spirituality and controlling our mind through constant practice of yoga, meditation, etc. can help us realize what Purusha Sukta proclaims – that we are divine, the brahman (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says, “Aham Brahmasmi” – I am Brahman), and that every living being is part and parcel of the same Supreme Being and all of us are always connected and never alone.
They say, what we resist, persists. What we embrace, dissolves. There is no reason for us to resistor fight our loneliness. Fighting it only leads to more misery, more suffering. Pain is inevitable in life, but suffering is a choice. Pure joy is when we can totally accept our loneliness and our various other conditions, embrace and experience it and letting that joyful space to arise from within and express itself through us…
Osho puts it very beautifully, “…there are a few fundamental things which cannot be changed…you cannot fight with darkness directly, with loneliness directly, with the fear of isolation directly. The reason is that, [in reality], all these things do not exist; they are simply absences of something, just as darkness is the absence of light.” Similarly, our loneliness is the absence of aloneness.
“The present moment is the field on which the game of life happens.” Let us live in the present moment, accept and embrace our aloneness and find happiness within. Only when we are complete and happy with ourselves, we can share our love and create true friendships and relationships.
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” – Eckhart Tolle
A similar version of this was first published in one of my older blogs, republishing with changes to share my new experiences.