Today, loneliness is a familiar occurrence. Being alone is not synonymous with being lonely. Loneliness does not arise from being ‘alone’ with ourselves; it emerges when we crave recognition and acceptance and feel isolated.
Careful analysis reveals that we bring loneliness on ourselves because we do not wish others to curtail our desires or prevent us from doing what we want. The first people we create a distance from is our own family as we don’t want elders, teachers, parents, or in-laws to admonish or correct us. Gradually, we shrink into a smaller unit and separate ourselves from others, even though at a deeper, subconscious level, we long for a sense of community and togetherness.
That is why we love celebrations and parties. Yet, under the misguided dread of rejection, of being disregarded or because of ego tussles, we tend to isolate ourselves. Thus, loneliness slowly and surely creeps into our lives. The recent, popular term ‘social distancing’ is somewhat incorrect. When we create a ‘social distance’, we create loneliness for ourselves. We become incapable of seeing the larger picture of happiness, goals and successes in our lives.
How do we remove this feeling of loneliness? Prevention is always better than cure. Fear of disappointment, rejection or criticism should not deprive us of the company of others. Everyone is not going to agree with us. We need to be accepting of varying viewpoints.
Life teaches us that people have a lot of expectations. However, Nature is always pleasing as it accepts unconditionally. If you feel lonely, go out into the open, experience Nature, feel the harmony, the sense of oneness with the plants, wind, birds, the earth under your feet. The mind will become quiet. It will feel loved and protected.
Second, actively contact people. There are many lonely people, especially senior citizens, who are seeking company. There might be rejection because of past experiences, but don’t feel snubbed. Be willing to reach out. Phone people. Lend them a sympathetic ear. You will remove the loneliness of others as well as your own. In a crowd or surrounded by family, we can still be lonely. Until we do not link our hearts with others, until we are not ready to connect and share, to give and receive – even criticism – we will be besieged by loneliness.
Lokmanya Tilak was imprisoned in Mandalay, Burma. He refused to fall prey to loneliness. In the absence of good company, he kept the satsang of noble thoughts, continued to read and write and utilised this time to author Gita Rahasya. The proceeds from its sale were donated to Indian Independence Movement.
When we focus on a specific action and work towards a goal that would benefit the community, we mentally connect and identify with others. The sense of isolation stops haunting us. Learn to let go; be content and feel a sense of peace and bliss within, where wants and expectations dissolve.
Be like a flower. Share your ‘fragrance’ and ‘nectar’ with the world. Don’t isolate yourself. Don’t shut people out. Loneliness is just a negative mental attitude. Do something for others; make them your own. You will never encounter loneliness!
Author: Swami Swaroopananda, Global Head Chinmaya Mission
(Source: Times of India , June 1st 2020)