Monday, October 4, 2010

Lonely for Ourselves

The last three weeks have been a flurry of activity including among other things: (a) an unexpected trip out west for my grandmother's funeral; (b) moving out of my office at work and into my home office; (c) working on revisions of my first book and trying to keep up with the writing schedule for my second book; and (d) two nearly back-to-back three-day yoga teacher training intensives. 

Today, I feel like I finally caught up with myself and  arrived at the place I most want to be: home. Although I enjoyed being in Idaho, was grateful for the time with my relatives, felt very good about moving on from my job and into the freelancing phase of my career, and totally loved the yoga training, when I finally settled onto my meditation cushion this morning and realized there was nowhere I needed to be today except right there on that cushion, an amazing sense of freedom and joy settled over me. 

I lit the candle, like I always do for my meditation, and was struck by the utter beauty of that tiny flickering flame. It was so extraordinarily beautiful, and I wanted nothing more than to sit and gaze at this little fire burning away inside my upstairs room, listening to the soft rain pattering on the window. 

Even now, as I think about it, tears come to my eyes, and I realize that what I have been is, "Lonely for myself," as Stephen Cope describes it in his book, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self. It was actually his friend, Paula, who voiced that description of the feeling that she could not shake, a sense of having reached a point in midlife where the career she had once loved, could no longer fill the void she sensed inside.

I distinctly remember when I first encountered that same empty sensation, now over twenty years ago. At the time, it bothered me a great deal that I felt unfulfilled by my life, since I had managed to fill it with the things and people and activities I thought I most wanted: family, a home, work that was interesting and challenging. One of the problems was that I had filled my life with all those things, leaving no time for myself. And leading, inevitably, to the strange sensation of being lonely for myself.

I know I have just completed a very busy few weeks, and one in which my attention was largely focused on others and on external events. I realize the balance has been tipped too far toward extroverted activities for me, an introvert who requires regular doses of solitude. And yet, I think this need for time with our true selves is one that all of us share, introvert and extrovert alike.

This hunger for ourselves is something we all feel from time to time, and there is no cure for it except to spend time with that person who wants us: our own true self. Not that it's easy to dig down through the layers of thoughts, and planning, and list-making and worries that fill our minds. It's not easy to get through these protective internal barriers, and it can take a long time to learn how to let all those thoughts go. Nevertheless, I find that it's worth the effort to return to the cushion, every day, since the only way I have found to fill that emptiness is to spend time with the one that wants to be with me--and is as lonely for me as I am for her. 



  1. As ever, we're on a similar wavelength. This weekend, as I was luxuriating in some much-needed and wanted solitude, I was thinking about how time with self and Self is such a gift -- and privilege. Was going to write a bit about this but maybe now that I've left a comment on your lovely blog, I won't have to!

  2. I know I should stop being surprised by our synchronicity, Meredith, but it still surprises -- and delights -- me! I, for one, would love to read more about what you have to say on this topic. ♥

  3. You are such a gifted writer, and it seems everything you say is resonating so deeply with me. I look forward to more of your profound insights.

  4. beautiful thoughts and clear writing....