The wisdom of the yoga sutras can be a great support to us everyday. You may remember the teachings on the kleśas, or pains we humans all endure. These include forgetting, separateness, attachment, aversion and fear. Because we’re still in Valentine’s Day territory, I want to offer support for separateness or the illusion that we’re alone.
The remedy? Belonging, and belonging because of those painful, shameful, embarrassing feelings that cause us to believe we are the only one who feels them.
I found a poem that describes this so well, I will hand the mic over to Rosemerry Traumer~
And if it’s true we are alone,
We are alone together,
The way blades of grass
Are alone, but exist as a field.
Sometimes I feel it,
The green fuse that ignites us,
The wild thrum that unites us,
The inner hum that reminds us,
Of our shared humanity.
Just as thirty-five-trillion
Red blood cells join in one body
To become one blood.
Just as one hundred thirty-six thousand
Notes make up one symphony.
Alone as we are,
our small voices
Weave into one big conversation.
Our actions are essential
To the one infinite story of what it is
To be alive. When we feel alone
We belong to the good communion
Of those who sometimes feel alone–
We are the dust, the dust that hopes,
A rising of dust, a thrill of dust,
The dust that dances in the light
With all other dust, the dust
That makes the world.
Belonging can be a return to a feeling of wholeness, as a part of the symphony or the blood. I love the poet’s choice of the word symphony, because the orchestra’s magic vibrates into our skin, bones, and emotional bodies when each musician plays their part. When a violin or bassoon sings out alone, it’s called a solo, and stands apart as unusual.
Mostly, the bowing and tooting and percussing blend together like watercolors, and we forget the individual players altogether. We hear the wholeness as one thing.
As infants, we blend this way with our mothers and caregivers. A baby’s cry can sound like the lament of all humanity, longing to return to oneness. Often, a babe is soothed by simple touch or one’s presence in the room, the feeling of reconnecting. Young ones can easily, literally, lean into a stranger, trusting any part of the human community to care for them and assure them that they belong. Gradually, babies grow into toddlers and the famous “No!” of the two-year old says “I want separation.”.
When we were children, all of us, and we acquired language for “me” and “you”, the separation continued and hardened, like a frozen droplet of water. For all of us, this newly born ice seemed so real, because it felt so true, and we forgot its essence was water or oneness. The blob of ice grew more layers, as the ego formed, and opinions and beliefs added to the shape, until the being felt apart, finding difference wherever they turned. We might still feel separate from anyone who disagrees with us. Of course no one else shares every single opinion with anyone else, so we are all susceptible to feeling apart and alone, longing for our “other half”.
While there isn’t another being
who will always agree with you,
your human feeling of isolation
is also the passkey to enter the club:
“When we feel alone, we belong to
the good communion of
those who sometimes feel alone”.
This includes everyone. We can feel alone by ourselves, alone in the crowded bazaar, and still, we belong.
Along with contemplating all of this aloneness and wholeness, I also suggest some self-compassion practices to simply soothe you when you feel lonely:Sit or lie down, with eyes closed, and deepen your breath.
-Place one or both hands on your heart.
-Let yourself feel your loneliness, noticing where it shows up in your body, and breathe into it.
-Acknowledge what you feel, “This hurts. This is really painful. This is suffering.”
-You might use some kind, gentle words, such as “Sweetheart, this is really hard.”
Then remind yourself, “This is part of being human. Every human sometimes feels this way.”You can also soothe yourself with touch, caressing your heart or your belly, giving yourself the kind of comforting touch that eases your nervous system.
Remember that this kind of pain, loneliness, can come at any time, and request, “May I be kind to myself when I feel this way.”.
I will close with Karen Carpenter’s lyrics: “Loneliness is such a sad affair, and I can hardly wait to be with you again.”. Let this “you” be yourself, and take time to be with that self, resting and relaxing into your healthy, human loneliness.
May these simple words and practices bring you solace, when you feel apart, isolated or lonely.