One of the byproducts of being on a journey of self-development is an increased sense of loneliness. I collaborated with my amazing friend and anthropologist, Denise to explore the roots of why our healing comes with a haunting feeling of “I don’t belong anywhere”. We explore a bio-psycho-spiritual take on how to overcome loneliness in the spiritual journey.
In an interview-style Masterclass, we go really deep into the challenges that spiritual seekers will often face, as well as a plethora of tools to support them back into a feeling of connection. Here are some highlights from the Masterclass.
Note that this resource is only available as a members-exclusive bonus that you get access to once you join the tribe. The intention behind this is to not just give you a powerful session that you may eventually forget about with all the buzz and noise but to also hold your hand throughout the many stages of your growth, in a safe and nurturing space.
What Makes Healing Feel Lonely
When I think of the word loneliness, I try to define it by considering its opposite feeling.
The opposite of being lonely is feeling like we belong. So a person that has belongingness is less likely to experience depression, isolation, and ostracization.
And when it comes to spiritual awakening and self-development, which are in themselves such positive things, why do most people feel loneliness?
My perspective is that when I look back at my own spiritual awakening, there were many new things that I wanted to explore. For example, past life regression, deep meditation practices, etc. I would go up to my parents or to my grandma and I’d say, oh, I saw this in my past life or I had a dream about it.
And initially, there was a lot of hesitation. They had their own stigmas around these topics, and they had a genuine fear of me getting into such stuff. For instance, my grandma used to believe that meditation could put me in a really dark place and that I might become so mentally shaken by the revelations to the point that she might not be able to take care of me. So her fear created a sense of loneliness because a part of me could no longer share with her that I want to pursue meditation.
Related Read: Why Meditation Can Become Scary
And it’s simple things like this. Take the example of seeing Angel numbers. If I tell a friend that I see numbers, they might laugh, and they might think I’m crazy!
So that begins to create a split role. Like having a “split personality” – you get to be spiritual in your private life (what I call a spiritual closet), and then when you come out into the world, you have to pretend like you don’t know what meditation is nor that you care about breathwork.
That said, I am beginning to notice a change in the pattern.
So five years ago when I would talk to spiritual seekers and people on the path of self-development, they genuinely didn’t have anybody to talk to about their experiences. And that led to a lot of self-doubts. Like not knowing who we are, whether is there something wrong with us for being on this path, why are we here – even a lot of suicidal thoughts at times.
But the pattern I’m noticing that’s changing is that those same people are beginning to share their healing journey with their families and friends. So the ripple effect has started – the members of their world are also becoming spiritually oriented!
Also, some of the “new people” that are waking up are more immediately comforted and validated thanks to so many online forums, blogs like mine, workshops, and group experiences available. So, there is a sense of being on the right track. So statistically, yes the loneliness might be increasing, but I also see it decreasing.
In fact, my second book, Homecoming is a guide to help spiritual seekers share their journey with their loved ones, and it attributes many ideas from my clients and lovely souls that have overcome the challenge of feeling lonely in their spiritual path.
The Effects of Loneliness On Mind, Body, and Soul
One of the impacts of loneliness on the mind is that the mind starts disassociating from reality.
A lot of people I’ve met after their awakening just disconnected from their human experience because it was just not enough for them. Myself included, life can start feeling very shallow and two-dimensional, which exacerbates the sense of feeling lonely on the spiritual path.
That loneliness can lead to a feeling of I don’t belong on this planet, I’m not fulfilled in this body, and they start mentally living in a different realm. So, they start believing that they are from a different planet and that they are here on Earth because of a mission of some type.
While I don’t dismiss these ideas, I’ve spoken to a large number of individuals who say such things and it’s never been independent of a deeply unsatisfied human life. It usually involves a lot of unresolved childhood trauma, feeling unheard and unseen as adults, and even something exhausting like a runner-chaser twin flame dynamic.
If not disassociating in such profound ways, we might temporarily escape reality by reading all the time or walking away from anything that doesn’t feel “spiritual” and isolating ourselves even further.
I am guilty of that too because I dealt with my loneliness by getting lost in past life regression work. In retrospect, I can see that going into past lives and constantly trying to heal them, was just my nervous system to create safety by living in a fantasy world.
It’s beautiful that our mind is creating a fantasy as a way to cope with life’s stressors, but that’s not where the healing is going to happen.
For example, one thing we might notice about ourselves is, “Yes, I meditated a lot and I was peaceful”, but the moment I interact with somebody, I get into this argument, and I don’t act like a spiritual person. That counterintuitive behavior is basically our body’s dysregulation. Our nervous system is out of whack!
And it takes time to build awareness of what’s going on in your body and your physiology. So when we know if we’re in Fantasyland, the first step is to simply start becoming aware of that and naming that experience so we are no longer unconsciously consumed by it.
The second impact of loneliness is that any experience we have in the mind will always have a physiological and emotional response. Tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, an increased sense of anxiety, and so on.
As studies show, stress levels become higher which can be equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day! In fact, pioneer researcher John Cacioppo states that loneliness is comparable to hunger and thirst, like physical pain.
In the Masterclass, we unpack many tools that can help overcome the mental, emotional, and physiological impacts of loneliness. Here’s a broad overview of one of the frameworks:
TOOL #1: Emotional Intelligence As a Stepping Stone in Overcoming Loneliness
Let’s start recognizing the emotions that we experience in day-to-day life. So for example, loneliness is a feeling but underneath loneliness, there’s more – we could say a core feeling. Different studies say different things, but let’s say there are five to seven core emotions. Namely:
We’re born knowing how to express these core emotions. As a baby, you knew how to cry, how to be angry at somebody who didn’t make you happy. You might have thrown something away in your raw expression of anger. And if you ate something really gross, you’d just gag it out in disgust.
And you weren’t concerned about how other people around you were reacting. Right? It was your natural behavior. That was you being in touch with your emotions. And so, loneliness comes on top of that.
Children aren’t born lonely. But when there’s a long period of sadness and disconnection and not belonging, not being accepted this kind of secondary emotion begins to develop. For me, loneliness has largely to do with sadness. It is a kind of pain, and sadness like I don’t belong here. I’m not important enough. It invites to me feel, grieve, and heal my own lack of belongingness.
When we recognize the core emotions and start allowing ourselves to be with them, we begin to heal adapted emotions like loneliness, depression, and so on.
Learn how to work with loneliness by signing up for this members-exclusive masterclass.
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What else you’ll learn in the Masterclass
Here’s what else you can expect while watching this hour-long, power-packed session:
- Authenticity as another tool to overcome loneliness: The psychologist and researcher Angie LeRoy and her team found out that loneliness doesn’t depend so much on isolation, or on the number of my relationships. But it depends on the quality of my relationships. And she says what you already said – it’s all about the feeling. How do you relate to that from a spiritual point of view?
- Catch 22: When we feel lonely, we would like to meet somebody. But somehow, it’s always quite difficult to meet new friends when we are lonely. Why?! It’s a kind of negative feedback loop. And I may have a negative bias – sensing someone will reject me or abandon me. How do you see that and overcome that?
- Why lonely people get taken more advantage of: Somehow, magically, lonely people can attract quite manipulative people. It’s as if they can smell our loneliness. How do other people recognize loneliness? And especially in the spiritual area? There are quite a lot of gurus and teachers. Unfortunately, not everyone is gold. For spiritual seekers, how can we prepare ourselves when we meet manipulative people?
- The cure to our loneliness: Monks in isolation – how did they deal with loneliness? Somehow they dealt with loneliness. And like them, what if I can’t talk about what I feel now to anybody else? What if there are no other means to feel connected than to me? I don’t have a cat. I don’t have a dog. I don’t have friends or family. I am like a monk in a cave. How do I deal with that? What advice can you give me?
- Not healing work can heal us: Why shadow work is NOT for lonely people and what you can focus on instead
- And much more, sprinkled throughout!
Sounds like questions you want answers to and new tools you can add to your journey of overcoming loneliness? You can download your lifetime access to the Masterclass here.
We feel pain. Loneliness hurts. And underneath it lie our core feelings, like sadness, or anger that are aching to be felt fully. Once felt, they can free us of the haunts we carry across years and lifetimes.
There are also many dark challenges when we leave our loneliness unattended, like being taken advantage of by mal-intended “gurus” or being misguided by our own minds.
And to move through all of that, I offer multiple practical tips and tools.
I dearly enjoyed this conversation and the research put together by Denise. There are a lot of things I share here, that I wish my younger self could know when she was getting started. So this is a dedication to her and anyone else that’s experiencing loneliness on the journey back home.
It is also a dedication to you, lovely soul. May all your spiritual hiccups be wiped off the board!
Vasundhra is the Founder & Writer of My Spiritual Shenanigans. After seeing 11:11 on the clock one fateful night, her life turned around. Ever since, she has been blending modern psychology and ancient spirituality, to help herself and people around the world elevate the quality of their lives.
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