I’ve found there to be a lot of conflicting ideas in the spiritual community when it comes to loneliness and connection. One one hand, loneliness is perceived as being integral to the human condition, with the general advice being that if we feel lonely, what we really need is to be spending more time with ourselves. On the other hand, I’ve heard a lot of spiritual teachers, including the Dalai Lama, preaching about the importance of interconnectedness with our fellow man and the assertion that humans are, by nature, social beings.
This has caused me a lot of confusion in the past few years, as loneliness is something which I feel has followed me for most of my life.
I don’t say this to try and evoke sympathy from anyone reading this – I know that everyone faces loneliness at some point in their lives. It’s not the sort of information people feel comfortable sharing, though, which can make it feel even worse. Not only do we feel lonely, we feel like no one else feels this way. Social media plays a big part in this.
We’re constantly seeing the highlights of people’s lives – when they’re travelling, all done-up on a night out with friends etc. – but we don’t always see the quiet moments; the cups of tea alone in the house, the lost moments when plans fall through and we feel let down. And any quiet moments that are conveyed on social media are typically done so in a contrived, beautified way. I myself am a culprit for this because I know what gets likes.
There’s nothing wrong with having a designated platform for beautiful content, we just need to make sure we actually look up from the screens and at the real world every now and then!
I felt compelled to write about the topic of loneliness vs. connection after a meeting I attended last week. I was visiting my mother in Forres, Scotland for a week and she suggested I attend an A Course In Miracles meeting with her.
A Course In Miracles is a very dense book which confronts readers to look inward and make headway towards spiritual transformation. It makes use of biblical scripture and psychotherapy models. I’m very new to the whole thing so I’m by no means an expert on any of it yet but when my Mam asked me if I’d like to attend a meeting with her I thought I’d give it a shot.
I can’t describe what it was like to meditate, share and discuss with people as interested in spirituality and and psychology as I am. There was such a special atmosphere in that room and a connection that I hadn’t ever felt before. Attending was me, my mother, a couple whose house we were in and another member. I was the youngest person there by far but it didn’t matter. I felt so welcomed and accepted. It was as if time stood still and we were connecting in spirit and not in flesh.
My mother shared that she’d studied ACIM independently for years but that it was a completely different experience studying it with other people and I can see why. Having the opportunity to bounce ideas off of other people and hear their stories and vulnerabilities in that sort of environment is a truly special thing.
That experience has made me rethink the way I perceive my spiritual journey. I wrote a song a while ago after my first breakup called The Nature Of Love. In the bridge, I explore the idea of loneliness paving the way to enlightenment:
“I think I see a long and lonesome road that could lead to a silver aura”.
In a bid to protect myself from more pain, I came to the conclusion that it was a life full of loneliness and not connection that would bring me true happiness. Upon some reflection, I’ve realised that that was my ego’s attempt at bypassing anything that posed a threat to it.
In the ACIM meeting, we were discussing the idea of love and strength and I posed the question: “Is it not true that to love is to be vulnerable?” “No.” was the succinct answer I got from James, the most knowledgeable ACIM student in the room and also a retired psychotherapist. I have to say that this knocked me for six. After some clarification, I learned that, according to ACIM, love is the biggest source of strength and it is only from the ego’s perspective that to love is to be vulnerable because it is something which threatens it.
This has given me a lot to think about. It has never been my intention to abstain from relationships forever, the cynicism I felt after that first breakup faded with time. But I have gotten a new perspective on the importance of connection and also an added awareness of my own ego and how I conduct myself in relationships and beyond.
Having intellectual and physical connection and being able to validate each other in romantic relationships is all good and well; but can we truly be present with each other, be unbiased, be truly and unconditionally loving and accepting? That’s another question altogether.
I’m going to make a real effort to connect with likeminded people over the next few months. I hope to find a similar spiritual group I can meet with regularly. My intuition tells me very clearly that it’s good for me. I feel like I grew considerably from that one meeting and that it was the catalyst for a shift in me – a “peak experience” (something I want to write a post about soon).
I’m realising that there’s nothing wrong with seeking out connection and that it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re running from your emotions – these connections could actually be a source of learning and clarity. I am somebody who enjoys my own company and likes doing things alone but meaningful connection is something I value very highly. I find it interesting how there’s infinite possibility for different personalities and appearances but there’s also no lack of commonality that connects us all.
I’ve been working at operating in such a way where I see myself in everyone and I see everyone in me. It doesn’t always feel possible or easy but when it does it’s one of the best feelings in the world.
What’s your take on loneliness vs. connection? Do you find yourself to be more introverted or extroverted? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks so much for reading. 🙂
– SMUT. ❤ xxxx