Alone vs Lonely

This afternoon I had a nap with my three month old daughter. Every now and again she would stir, reach out her hand and hold my finger then settle again. The reassurance of being close to someone was enough for her to feel safe enough to sleep peacefully. We all need that reassurance sometimes, that if we need it we can connect with someone who cares about us.

There are times when we can feel very isolated from those around us and this can happen at various times for various reasons. During these moments we can feel lonely, like we have no one to reach out to. It is in these moments that cultivating a love for ourselves is vital, to have compassion for ourselves. Humans are not designed to live completely detached from each other and yet our society is becoming increasingly more so, trying to convince us that we are staying connected through social networking, texting and emailing. These have their place but cannot replace the feeling we get when we get a hug, or a kiss, or when we can reach out and someone takes our hand and is there for us.

Sometimes when we reach out for that hand it is not there. We can take that as opportunity to learn to comfort our self or choose to see it that the world is a big, scary place where there is no comfort to be found, this can be learned from an early age. We may put up barriers to reject others to avoid feeling the pain of rejection ourselves.

A belief is a thought you keep thinking, so if you keep thinking this so you will come to believe it. When you believe it you will more often notice circumstances that “fit” your belief, confirming to you that you are alone in the world.  When you associate the feeling of fear with being alone then you may feel lonely. However, you can change this. Right now. Close your eyes, take three slow deep breaths and imagine yourself in a room with another you. Your other self knows your innermost thoughts, fears and desires. You are both sitting quietly, waiting for you to ask for what you need. If it is a hug, imagine your other self hugging you. If it is forgiveness, imagine your other self forgiving you. Whatever it is, you can do it for yourself, but don’t just picture it. Really go in to those emotions and FEEL them. When you are ready draw in three deep breaths, slowly coming back to present with each breath. As you exhale give yourself permission to let go of any emotions of loneliness you may have been carrying with you. Being alone in itself is neither good nor bad, it is just a state of being. But you always have the ability to travel inwards to find whatever you think you need from someone else. When we were three months old we don’t have that ability and sometimes as adults the child in us still needs that physical touch, that reassurance that we are still connected. Be courageous and ask someone for it. They probably need it too.

Here is a clip from Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and a great inspiration to me. He speaks very simply about how to be with ourselves. As Pascal said “All of man’s (and women’s) difficulties comes from his inability to sit quietly in a room by himself.” Enjoy.

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