Handling loneliness: Ancient lessons that have worked for me

It is common and it is difficult, but there are effective ways to deal with it

Dr Palakh Jain | August 5, 2023


#psychology   #Wisdom   #Loneliness   #spirituality  
American artist Edward Hopper`s paintings are well known for their depiction of urbal lonliness (Image Courtesy: Gandalf`s Gallary / Flickr)
American artist Edward Hopper`s paintings are well known for their depiction of urbal lonliness (Image Courtesy: Gandalf`s Gallary / Flickr)

Loneliness is said to be equivalent to smoking a few cigarettes daily. People who have faced loneliness will agree with me that is a feeling which cannot be described in words alone. I have experienced periods of loneliness till my bones with a vacuum created inside the chest and there is nobody in the vicinity to connect with. Even if I go to work, there is not a single person with whom I can connect, and it becomes difficult to connect even with family members even on outings as your connection with your self is lost.

I read what Google searches found, talked to therapists and friends, and did everything possible. I adopted each and every single measure suggested to me ranging from working for 1,500 underprivileged kids to pampering myself to exercising to community connection and what not! It seems all these measures are temporary as what lies within us is more serious than what we can visualise. These experiences give you an instant boost and lots of laurels in the society. However, the underlying cause remains unaddressed.

It is very easy for people to say go for a walk to a person who is feeling lonely. They do not realise that the person has ‘me time’ 24x7. People who have kids, partners, families need their space and meditation to cut off from the connections. For lonely people, these things aggravate the issue at hand.

So, I finally turned to Jain monks and sought from them ancient wisdom to learn about handling loneliness. Here are some pointers which have worked for me:

1.    Change space: Just moving from one space to other after every few hours or minutes shifts your attention to the new space you have entered. It is a big no to stay at one place alone for more than sometime.

2.    Make mantra your hook: Pick up a mantra and make it your best friend. When alone, the thoughts will come in loads. The trick is to chant the mantra as long as possible within. The mantra has the energy to release the pent up emotions.

3.    Draw your loneliness: Even if you are not a good artist, take a pause and visualise what loneliness means to you in each body part – just draw it with colours. Does it feel like a painful ball of black colour or may be tangled strands? Whatever it is release from your system by penning down on sketch book or canvas.

4.    Make loneliness your best friend: Now this is the toughest of all but the most effective!
When I feel lonely, I do what a Jain monk told me about handling illness. They invite the illness and spend time with the illness alone. Just spend time with your loneliness. Trust me it will not vanish. It may aggravate but you will see you will start making peace with it. So when loneliness strikes, just be lonely. Do nothing about it!

These things have helped me immensely and I penned down my thoughts in an attempt to benefit a larger group of people.

Dr Palakh Jain is Associate Professor at Bennett University.

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