When I teach workshops – only online in these times of Covid-19 lockdown – what people remember most or pick me up on is when I say ‘Separation is a Myth’, or ‘We are never truly alone’. Some people of course get triggered by these sentences. A participant who had just separated from her beloved husband, bristled up. And yes, separation is very real and painful, and at the same time, on another level, it is also a myth.
I know how painful the feeling of loneliness can be. Sometimes it can be situational, when we don’t feel heard or understood by our nearest and dearest, it can be acute and long lasting after a separation from or death of a loved one, or come completely out of the blue. A number of us need to self isolate due to testing positive for Covid-19, and all of us here in the UK, and all over the world need to deal with lockdown, and being separated from friends and family.
The feeling of loneliness, and the knowledge that we are never truly alone are two different things!
Feelings are there to be felt, and not all feelings are of an expanding, pleasant nature. Some feelings are constricting, however unless we are ready to feel them fully whenever they occur, they will keep pushing until we take notice.
There is nothing wrong with you for feeling constricting feelings, so don’t beat yourself up for having them! Let them come to you just as you wouldn’t push an upset child away from you. Embrace them. Enquire. And breathe them in, and through. Breath is a great tool for all emotions. It enhances joy and pleasure, and it helps us open up to pain, lose the fear of letting it in, and the letting it through when the message is heard.
Don’t be afraid to feel fear, pain or loneliness. Reach out to friends, or a counsellor even if it’s on the phone or on FaceTime, if you need help to cope.
When we stop identifying with what we are thinking and feeling, there are two Beings already: the Thinking/Feeling/Being/Living You, and the Witnessing You. The Witnessing You is called consciousness. Don’t confuse the Witness with Judgement. If you find yourself judging frequently, make that another Being! Give it a name if you like. If they are judging, the witness comes in, and notices. The witness hears the judgment, knowing it’s just that: a judgement. Not the truth. So now there are three of you already!
Let’s plunge into multitude, or oneness. For multitude/oneness, we need a feeling of basic safety, and we need to cultivate that. There are people with a core belief that they are never really safe, not by themselves, not with friends, not with partners. This may stem from attachment issues in childhood, trauma in their lives or have other causes. So, if that’s the case, it takes a little bit of work to get to this feeling of safety.
Generally, we can start by creating a mental image of a safe place, in detail, just as we would do in mindfulness training. Different from mindfulness training, I would then ask people to notice the different feeling in their bodies. What does your body feel like when you feel safe? You may feel expansion, or sinking a little more into the seat or whatever is supporting you. By and by, you may recreate that feeling of safety just via the physical feeling, even without the mental image.
What also helps is cultivating appreciation in our lives, so counting our blessings rather than our losses.
This feeling of safety/deep appreciation is the prerequisite for finding a meditative space. A meditative space is where we stop doing for a while, find stillness and just being, and cultivate the function of the witness for whatever is going on, without attaching ourselves to anything.
I would not recommend meditation as a sole practice without embodiment practice and mindfulness techniques, and the embodiment practice should include the power and pleasure of the pelvic structures, the abdominal area, and the heart. Meditation can get us to the feeling of being more than just the physical Self, and open us up to the feeling of being connected with everything, at its core, and our core. This cultivates the knowledge of ‘never truly alone’.
In meditative states we aim to get beyond the rational mind, comparable to when we deeply relax before we go to sleep.
The rational mind is more prone to differentiate, and see separation, however there is an entire world underneath this.