I was reminded of the famous poem by James Casey: “Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink”, when I came across the statement of former US Surgeon Gen. Vivek Murthy, “Loneliness is incredibly common, and that it’s not older folks who are suffering most, it is actually young people who are grappling with the highest rates of loneliness — despite being more digitally connected than ever before.”
It is an irony that in this overpopulated world people feel they have no connection with anybody. Experts say that the effect of feeling lonely is as devastating as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is so pervasive in today’s world that doctors call it the “loneliness epidemic”. The gnawing feeling of being left out, isolated and unwanted eats at the heart and people start sliding into the black hole of emptiness. This feeling comes out of the fundamental need of humans to connect; whether it is with humans, animals, things or thoughts, but they have to connect. This unfulfilled need then creates many disorders like depression, social anxiety, addiction and hoarding. These demons thrive on loneliness.
But be realistic, ask the pertinent question: Is loneliness real or is it a misunderstanding of your situation? If you ask Osho he will say: “Loneliness is a misunderstood aloneness. Everybody is running away from loneliness. It is like a wound; it hurts. To escape from it, the only way is to be in a crowd, to become part of a society, to have friends, to create a family, to have husbands and wives, to have children. In this crowd, the basic effort is that you will be able to forget your loneliness. But nobody has ever succeeded in forgetting it. That which is natural to you, you can try to ignore — but you cannot forget it; it will assert again and again. And the problem becomes more complex because you have never seen it as it is; you have taken it for granted that you are born lonely.”
If you want to transform your loneliness into aloneness the essential tool is, meditation. You have to make meditation a part of your daily routine, not as a hobby, but as assimilated as your breathing. Loneliness looms large because you are constantly looking at others, your expectations, demands are from the outside and you completely forget yourself. Others are not born to fill in the vacuum inside your heart. They have their own vacuum to take care of. Bring the attention from the outside to inside, to yourself. In yoga, it is called Pratyahara, which means bringing the senses in. Our senses are constantly feasting on outside objects, persuade them to turn in and feast inside. There is a deep nourishment inside which is no match to the outer feed.
Aloneness is our very nature, but we are not aware of it. We remain strangers to ourselves, and instead of seeing our aloneness as a tremendous beauty and bliss, silence and peace, at-easiness with existence, we misunderstand it as loneliness. Aloneness has a positive fragrance, beauty and bliss. Let this blissfulness become an epidemic....