5 Steps to Dealing with Loneliness & Emotional Pain.

Via on Apr 8, 2011
Photo: fspugna

The Energy of our Mind.

My wife asked me to write an article on what to do about loneliness.

Well, seeing as I feel lonely right now because she and my six month old baby are away from me, I don’t know if that qualifies me as an expert or one in need of guidance. I joked with her, as she asked via email,

“What do you do about loneliness?”

…by replying,

“You come home. That’s what you do. And bring our baby.”

But, really, folks, what to do besides being together with people we love and recognizing that most of us are social beings who need community, family and contact?

I don’t think you’ll like my answer.

It is pretty much the same one as I often give, only now plug loneliness into the context. Counseling based on natural wisdom isn’t always “fun” – it is however real. That’s why many people want to go to shrinks who will indulge their fantastical dramas, take pills that will make them feel better instantly, or go to the movies and not feel what they are feeling.

But, try this process next time you are suffering from loneliness and realize that avoiding emotional pain in the myriad ways we do really doesn’t work:

  1. Feel it.
  2. Know that it is natural and not inherently problematic.
  3. Don’t believe the story your mind is telling you about why you are lonely
  4. Just continue to feel, but now don’t only drop the story about why but also drop the story that you are even lonely.
  5. I repeat, don’t label your sensations at all… just FEEL them. Don’t try to change them, don’t analyze them, don’t resist them, DON’T THINK about them, and don’t numb out to them… just penetrate them so completely that you dissolve the difference between “you” and “your” feelings – leaving only raw feeling.
Kailash Akhara - home of Energy of Mind. Photo: atdawnphotography.com

If we honestly perform these steps with loneliness, or any other emotion that we want to plug into this equation, it will go away all in its own. Absolutely no emotion lasts longer than a momentary arising and fading away, unless WE attach meaning and self-identification to the story behind it. If we find that emotions are lasting longer than just moments, it is because we are not well practiced at the above process – that’s fine, few of us are. But, it will work for all of us if we keep working it with the key ingredients of a sincere, heartfelt wish to grow beyond our perceived limitations and imagined possibilities, and a strong desire to be really be present.

With time, commitment and practice we all will understand every meditative analogy about thoughts and emotions dissolving like clouds in the sky. If you haven’t heard the analogy it is like this: our true nature is like the clear, open sky. It allows everything and anything to come into its experience, but all clouds and storms are always hosted within the underlying reality of the clear, open, spacious sky. The sky behind the clouds is always radiant and beautiful as is our true nature which can accept the clouds of life’s inevitible difficulties without ever losing connnection to its pristine clarity/awareness. Living in this state of sky-like conscious-awareness is characterized by simple joy and unconditioned contentment. Whether its a cloudy day or not, the sky always knows it is the sky, and this conviction of knowing who we truly are is the source of not suffering.

About Yogi Michael Boyle

Michael Boyle, also known as Yogi, is training to be a DHARMA INC Acarya as student of Dharma Bodhi (Adi Yoga). Yogi is a graduate of DHARMA INC's , seven year, “Tantrik Yoga Studies Program” as well as JFK’s masters psychology program. He is a certified Sauhu Therapy Counselor, Primal Ayuveda Health Advisor, Śakta-Śaiva Dharma Teacher and Adi-Yoga Teacher. In 2010, he founded Energy of Mind Holistic Counseling, which offers counseling through the lens of yoga, ayurveda, meditation, etc. all within the context of psychological insight and understanding.

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13 Responses to “5 Steps to Dealing with Loneliness & Emotional Pain.”

  1. Omkar says:

    i saw this quote recently and it resonated:

    "Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way."

    - Janet Fitch

    She gets the heart of it but I changed the last line to:

    "The best you'll ever do is understand that you aren't what you think you are, know that what you want un…folds naturally from your existence, and realize that there is nothing in your way."

    • Thanks Omkar, I heard of someone once saying… "If you want to be enlightened, you've got to go through loneliness" (or was it boredom?) Ah, what's the difference? Thanks for your contribution!

  2. Terry says:

    Thank you for this…
    I only truly felt lonely after my beloved husband died, I had never really felt it before I met him either..And once I was mostly past the intense process of grieving I again realized how ( amazingly)wonderful "loneliness" ended up being for me… as it used to be.. How it always offered me a real window for just being with myself… and how my best work as a painter and writer always comes when i am alone and how I never really am..I am always more in tune with everything when supposedly lonely!!
    Terry

  3. #5 – my goodness. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  4. [...] recently came across a post on Elephant Journal by Yogi Michael Boyle called 5 Steps to Dealing with Loneliness & Emotional Pain that is helping me solidify this in my mind. While he specifically talks about dealing with [...]

  5. erin says:

    thank you for this! the phrase that really resonated with me is: "dissolve the difference between “you” and “your” feelings – leaving only raw feeling." To often we 'identify' with our feelings, and then create and weave a story around said feelings. Not realizing that WE are the ones doing narrating, not others..

  6. [...] This simple meditation exercise is as easy at is can be profound in its effect, though it is greatly complemented by a hatha yoga practice. In classical tantrik yoga we hold postures for a long time. Not only does this build an incredible force of internal power that any practitioner knows is far more “complete” than mere weight-lifting strength, but it also trains us to withstand ever-increasing amounts of sensation. [...]

  7. [...] This simple meditation exercise is as easy at is can be profound in its effect, though it is greatly complemented by a hatha yoga practice. In classical tantrik yoga we hold postures for a long time. Not only does this build an incredible force of internal power that any practitioner knows is far more “complete” than mere weight-lifting strength, but it also trains us to withstand ever-increasing amounts of sensation. [...]

  8. [...] functional in some respects, is largely responsible for a mass experience of anxiety, dis-ease, feelings of isolation/disconnection and anger that results from knowing that something is not quite right without being [...]

  9. Wonderful, Dace. Thanks! I am grateful to hear of people's experience with digesting suffering by accepting pain. Many times people think the principle that "pain is inevitable in life, but suffering is optional" is just spiritual smugness. I am glad to see that you, too, have tasted the fruit of this truth and our human capacity to go all the way through it. By no means is it an easy road… it requires courage and commitment. Thanks for sharing yours. -Yogi

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