“Being alone and actually sitting with our own thoughts can lead to such growth and realizations that are rare in our everyday busy lives.”
As I currently live alone and in a rural location in Australia, I am often asked the question, do I get lonely? My reply is often the same; I simply say that I am not really prone to loneliness. However, that doesn’t mean to say that from time to time I do in fact, miss not having company around. But one does not necessarily lead to the other.
In these turbulent times of social distancing, and societal isolation due to travel restrictions; with families and friends restricted from being able to visit the people we love and care about, there seems to be a growing concern about the loneliness this may be creating.
There is a giant universal void that lies between being alone, and being lonely. To be ‘alone’ is simply stating a fact of circumstance, being ‘lonely’ is to describe a state of mind that we are experiencing. Of course we love being with the people we care about and this often brings us joy and a sense of deeper wellbeing. Yet it doesn’t necessarily equate that we will always feel lonely because we cannot be in the same living space as our loved ones.
It is interesting to note, that many of us will have experienced the feeling of being lonely in a crowded room, perhaps at a party or a gathering where we are either not feeling ourselves or perhaps we have a sense of being isolated from the people that surround us. So we begin to see that feeling lonely has very little to do with being alone. In fact the word ‘alone’ is a compound word derived from: ‘At-one-with-all’. That is to say that being alone could be seen as essentially synonymous with the experience of universal ‘oneness’, or ‘all-ness’; it is this sense of a deep connectedness with all life that we can sometimes experience. This state of affinity with the universe and all that lives within it, is the state that we were born in and the experience most of us, consciously or unconsciously make every endeavour to return to. It is the desire in us to have a good life.
Sometimes we might eat certain foods in an attempt to take away those feelings of loneliness; sometimes we may play music to fill the void we feel within. Yet, ultimately the feeling persists because ‘feeling’ is married to ‘thinking’, and cannot be separated. Only in our imagination is there a gap between how we feel, and what we are thinking.
There are a multitude of songs written about loneliness and invariably their content points towards the same thing each time, although there may be exceptions to this rule, it is often to the circumstances of a persons life that the song points, as the cause of this experience of loneliness. Suggesting as it were, that there really is nothing we can do when we are lonely, it’s simply how things are. But in reality things are only as we see them via our thinking.
This is not to say that being alone, we cannot feel lonely, or that we will necessarily experience a deep sense of universal ‘oneness’, every time we are alone. Yet what it does point towards is the simple fact that it is the thinking we do around our circumstances that creates the experience we are having in any given moment. And moreover, it is not the circumstances making us feel alone or lonely. These same circumstances may in fact influence our thinking, and thus lead to feelings associated with that thinking, but they cannot influence them in any way except via our own thoughts. Our state of mind is the deciding factor in how we end up feeling.
When Wordsworth ponders as he ‘… wandered lonely as a cloud’, he speaks of this deep and spiritual connection to nature. This can happen to all of us at any given moment. In fact it can be experienced in retrospect too, we could actually be with people, drift into a daydream about some magical moment in our lives, and ‘boom’ we experience the oneness of life again. We are not alone, but we are still experiencing the connectedness of all things.
This is the wonder of life. Once we really see the true nature of Thought, it becomes increasingly difficult to be truly ‘lonely’ or any other negative state of mind for any great length of time. This is because once the mind has seen through the illusion of our personal thinking; this thinking becomes secondary to the peaceful quiet mind that lies just below the surface of that same thinking. The ancients called this wisdom, and contemporary thinking often calls it common sense or even intuition.
The good news here is there is no path that leads directly to psychological freedom, because psychological freedom is our birth-right and our natural state, when we truly see this, we are set free from the shackles of being lonely and towards a deeper sense of being At-One-With-All, whatever our circumstances happen to be.