I think I may have misunderstood my loneliness. I’ve run from it, resisted it, even despised it. There have been days when I’ve been consumed by the emptiness, sinking into what seemed like a never ending black hole. When none of my spiritual “go to” tools seem to work, the prayers and positive thinking, journaling and affirmations, meditations and mantras bring only temporary relief, I can’t seem to escape the grips of my despair. Those are the days I could use a little magic.
Loneliness has taken me to the edge, and brought me to my knees. No matter how much I’ve wished it to be gone, it never leaves me alone. And that’s when it finally struck me – It never leaves me alone, loneliness has been my constant companion, the one thing that has never abandoned me. I’ve felt lonely my entire life so what if after all this time I’ve been looking at it the wrong way?
In the Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle speaks about his life before he awakening, the dread and loathing he felt, “sucked into a void, gripped by an intense fear.” He heard the words “resist nothing” and he allowed himself to fall. When he finally surrendered he woke into a whole new world. He described the feeling like he had just been born. In the intensity of his suffering (he was suicidal) the plug had been pulled, forcing all his fear and illusions to collapse, leaving only the truth of his true nature.
What struck me most about his story was Tolle’s awakening happened when he was completely alone. He had nothing, no relationships, no job, and no home. He spent almost 2 years homeless, sitting on a park bench in a state of intense joy.
Holy wow! Homeless, on a part bench, experiencing intense joy?! Talk about magic! I’ll have what he’s having. But let’s face it, it’s not likely that anyone’s awakening occurs while they are in a state of bliss; like it or not pain is the portal to transcendence.
When the truth hits me I can feel it in my bones. I can no more run away from my loneliness than I can run away from myself. It’s my mind that I needed to get away from, my mind that kept me feeling isolated and alone; loneliness on the other hand was offering me a way out. It’s not a great obstacle in my life to the contrary, it’s a great opportunity.
I was looking for comfort in all the wrong places, hoping to find it with friends, family, and romantic partners but when they didn’t show up or weren’t able to meet my ego’s expectations, fear and loneliness showed up instead; not to rub salt in my wounds but to point the way.
Loneliness was my personal invitation to learn something more profound than anything my thinking mind could resolve or comprehend. The constant voices in my head were a distraction that created fear and depression. It prevented me from seeing the truth. When I made the choice to rise above my thinking I was no longer at the mercy of my mind.
Enlightenment is the end of suffering – Buddha
The more I embraced, accepted, dare I say even loved my loneliness the more it began to reveal itself as one of my utmost sources of light.
There’s a vast realm of intelligence that lies beyond my thoughts. This is where wisdom resides and connection exists. This is where I can finally find peace and acceptance. There are countless paths to arrive here, but my personal experience has shown me it’s a pilgrimage that must be traveled alone.
As I was making my final edits to this article, I opened a book and a slip of paper fell out with a handwritten poem. I think loneliness may have had a little more to say.
Once loneliness cut deep
I tried to distract myself
Ran to people and places and things
Even pretended that I was “happy “
But soon I couldn’t run any more
I tumbled into the heart of loneliness
I died and was reborn into an exquisite solitude and stillness that connected me to all things so I was not lonely, but
Alone with all life
My heart One with all other hearts
– Unknown Author