April 9, 2011

5 Steps to Dealing with Loneliness & Emotional Pain.

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.

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