05/14/2013 11:48 am ET Updated Jul 14, 2013

There Is Life After Loneliness

"Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow." -- Janet Fitch

Have you ever had those days when you felt lonely, cut off and isolated from the rest of the world? Of course this is a rhetorical question because at one time or another, we all have felt lonely and it can be one of the most depressing feelings we can experience. Loneliness has been described as being in a long, dark tunnel in which we feel stranded, seeing no light, no way out. Few would argue that a prolonged sense of isolation can be devastating to our attitude and perspective of life. Irrespective of our age, or where we may be geographically, when we feel lonely, none of that really matters: We could be physically alone, sitting on top of Mt. Everest without a soul around, or we could be sitting in the middle of Grand Central Station in the midst of thousands of people and still feel isolated and lonely. The good news is that there is life after loneliness -- and the really good news is we can use loneliness as a bridge to something much more rewarding if we are willing to intentionally lean into it rather than unconsciously be absorbed by it. Loneliness, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing if we don't lose ourselves in its vortex. If we can remain conscious and mindfully aware when loneliness sets in, we can use it for our growth and healing.

Remember: the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself.
Life's cruelest irony." -- Douglas Coupland

Could it be that it is in your greatest moments of loneliness, you are most called to be by yourself because there is something stirring within that seeks your undivided attention and perhaps has a message for you? That message is universally the same for each of us: "You are not alone, despite all appearances, irrespective of what you are going through or how lonely you may feel, you are never alone." If you are mindful, conscious, and willing to be present with your loneliness, you shall discover it's quite impossible to be truly alone -- ever. This is because the infinite presence that put you here has never "left" you alone; it is with you now just as it was the day your soul was first clothed in your garment of flesh and bones. However, while infinite presence has never left you alone, It has indeed "let" you alone to discover your true self. The law of freewill ensures that the self will never force itself upon you, but that doesn't mean It has abandoned you. This is when understanding the difference between loneliness and aloneness becomes very important: Loneliness is an emotional void -- a sense that you are isolated and separate from the whole of life. Aloneness, however, is standing in that very same void but with an entirely different perspective, knowing that while it might appear you are "alone" you are not lonely because you know you are one with something infinitely larger than yourself. It is in your authentic moments of aloneness you will more fully enter the sacred continuum of wholeness and inner peace.

Even in your darkest moments, there is a light burning within you; and it is in your sacred moments of conscious aloneness, when you are able to intentionally and mindfully turn inward, that you are most directly connected to that light. The practice is to remember the light of infinite presence is there now, and always has been, regardless of where you may be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In the words of the Sufi mystic Haifz, "I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your being." You were born as a being of light and nothing has changed; you still are one with the light.

It is true that, as part of the human condition, loneliness will visit all of us from time to time. So the next time it pays a you a visit, rather than denying it, pushing against it or struggling to turn it away, welcome it, cultivate it, embrace it, dance with it, learn from it, and follow its tunnel into that place within you that allows your soul room to grow outward. This is the transitional bridge between loneliness and aloneness. If this process feels too overwhelming to go it alone, consider seeking the support of a qualified professional who can help point you in the right direction -- there is absolutely no shame in asking for directions when you know you are lost. The practice is to keep moving forward, trusting that even in your darkest moments of loneliness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Suffice to say that learning to embrace aloneness is akin to taking the first step out of that tunnel of darkness and into the light of a new day. When you confidently find peace in your aloneness, something quite extraordinary happens; the light you radiate effortlessly attracts the appropriate people and circumstances to you and, in the process, you'll notice your loneliness fading into the nothingness from which it came. Always remember light and darkness cannot exist in the same space; as you step into the light you will naturally be moving out of the darkness, which is when you'll see there really is life after loneliness -- and that's a beautiful thing.

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