Sometimes spiritual circles exalt themes of journeying alone. It is said that our journey ultimately take us to places where it is just us and the Divine. For me, this brings up images of awakening while meditating in a cave up on top of a mountain. There are underlying themes to our inner desires that longing for soul connections is ultimately futile, or a distraction to the goal, even impossible that another soul’s journey would be in line with our own journey.
Also, we have fears about delving into how expansive our feelings get in response to the possibility of having soul connection — will we lose ourselves into the other as we jump in the expansiveness? What if we get disappointed…again? Do we need to hold ourselves back to protect ourselves?
So, what do we do with these feelings of loneliness? And, with the feelings of longing for contact and connection? What do we do when the desire is strong? How do we avoid those feelings within? How do our psyches protect us?
Do we hold tensions in our bodies to keep those feelings at bay? Do we project onto others and build elaborate fantasies? Do we run back to our inner family structure, back to our conditioning with how our loneliness and longing was dealt with in our childhood?
Expansiveness rarely shows up alone. In tandem arises uncomfortable feelings and conditioning that have been holding us back and dreaming small all these years. We feel vulnerable and exposed. All the we have built structures around to keep ourselves from feeling vulnerable and exposed can frighten us as we feel those structures crumbling. We may feel regressed as feelings buried in childhood arise. Sometimes those feelings are with stories we can understand and relate with. Other times, those feelings come without stories since they were buried at a very early age before we had stories and we can feel confused about our feelings.
So, with all that arising as we are expanding, how can we continue to say yes to our expansion and awakening? To start with, it can be helpful to zoom out of our experience to reflect at what a gift our feelings of loneliness is and to recognize the opportunity. It is helpful to bring witnessing to how we are managing our feelings. How are we protecting ourselves from feeling the loneliness and the longing? Do the ways we seem to be “protecting” ourselves seem resonant of our childhood defenses of navigating loneliness and our unmet desires for contact and connection? It can be difficult to recognize ourselves still playing out childhood defenses, however we have more choice as we become more enlightened to how we utilized them.
Also, how may we be running to our internal parental figures for “comfort”? And, what does that comfort feel like? Often, we find ourselves going to what feels like a nurturing figure in our lives who offered the best they could. Yet, our inner resources can actually provide us with even more nurturing and care, if we have been engaged in our internal work.
Moving our bodies to loosen the structures, tensions, and holdings can really make an impact. How do our bodies want to move? What internal sounds want to be made? How do we utilize the fullness of our breath to play with and notice all that is arising within?
Lastly, imagination and allowing ourselves to open to and explore our loneliness and longing is essential. Even if we watch ourselves getting “lost” over and over, we can come back to using the experiences to practice returning to ourselves as we expand. In that way, we learn how to tolerate our expansion within.
The invitation is to open up more fully to ourselves, to explore ourselves more deeply in the context of this world and anything that may pull at us. And to notice that anything that arises is ultimately for us, for our journeys. That we can have the richness of our beings as we play in this universe and that ultimately we open up to the mystery of not knowing the unlimited ways our journeys will evolve and expand.
As Hafiz puts it:
“Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly. Let it cut more deep. Let it ferment and season you as few human or even divine ingredients can. Something missing in my heart tonight has made my eyes so soft, my voice so tender, my need of God absolutely clear.”