Loneliness – Practice Detachment and Master It

Isn’t it striking how a song can catch exactly how you feel? It can even sum-up an entire ‘season’ of your life. You love hearing the song every time it’s played and you even go out and buy yourself a copy. Years later you hear the song and all of a sudden your mind’s back in that situation, feeling it as if it were yesterday. Such is the supremacy of our memory around these powerful emotions.

I had this happen to me some five years ago. With a major life change after a key relationship failure, and having lost everything dear to me, it was a song by Avril Lavigne that punctuated my life. “I’m with you,” was a song that made it to the top 10 in the U.S. seemed to capture perfectly my loneliness and desperation, and how I felt at the core of my being. Research indicates that a surprisingly high proportion of the population go through dark periods, dark enough to consider suicide. So dark was this time that the song seemed to take me to these thoughts, and strangely these thoughts were very comforting.

Loneliness is an emotion that can affect anyone at any time. It can come out of the blue. I have memories as a child of having a large extended family reunion each year. It was something we’d look forward to for months. We’d come together for several weeks some years and it was always memorable. The only problem was the inevitable goodbyes-they had to come eventually. Missing people like this brought a sense of aloneness, even though I had my immediate family all around me. The point is, the onset and effect of this emotion couldn’t accurately be predicted; emotions are raw things, when they hit they hit.

I love the quote, “no matter how much you surround yourself with people, at the end of the day you are cosmically alone.” – Alan Dodge. Sixteen Century priest, St. John of the Cross, said “Live in the world as if only God and your soul were in it; then your heart will never be made captive by any earthly thing.” Both these quotes speak to the suffering involved in loneliness, and what the remedy is. The first mentions the undeniable fact-we come into the world alone, and we leave the world alone. The second proposes that the reader sort out their priorities to protect their soul from the negatively emotional effects of loneliness.

Looking deeper though, both of these men refer to something more profound. There are so many ills in living in dependence on others; the complete extreme of this is the “co-dependent relationship” that becomes highly abusive.

The secret seems to be detachmentthe ability to overcome the desire for worldly things, including relationships, attaining a higher perspective. Again, St. John of the Cross says, “In detachment, the spirit finds quiet and repose for coveting nothing… it stands in the center of its own humility.” This is widely known and practiced in many Eastern religions and it has great power.

Detachment means that there should be a healthy independence from people and circumstances, i.e. not being needy, such that we’re able to preserve the worlds of others, and importantly, shore up our own. It means we have no reason to offend people with our opinions. We can allow them to be as they will be. As far as loneliness is concerned, detachment is a way of thinking and acting that preserves our emotional state and helps us suffer less loneliness. It’s grounded in the way of completeness of soul.

Detachment takes maturity and is a process that requires time and practise ground. Knowing the theory is the first part; practicing detachment should be a lifelong goal.

© Steve J. Wickham, 2008. All rights reserved Worldwide.