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Alone or Lonely?

Alone or Lonely?

For an extrovert, and someone who grew up around a lot of family members, being alone can be confused with being lonely. When the house is quiet, and the weather is cloudy it’s a paradise when you want to be alone, and an empty room when you feel lonely. All kinds of thoughts can intrude into an empty room. Like thoughts about those who are missing, or restless wanderings about what tasks are incomplete or what activities, like cooking or TV, can fill in the void. The judging mind likes to add to the party with comparisons about what kind of life would be better, or how to be a better person by doing this or that. It taunts about how the grass is greener on the other side, and longs to be with others to distract from feeling lonely.

Maybe today all of that is just a cover for grief. Grief about the loss of someone dear. Grief about the passing of an era and the passing of a life. I don’t like to admit that I am worried about the future, about my health, and about getting older. Someday I will have to say goodbye too. I’ll have to leave everyone I know and begin something new.

However, as I sit here writing and acknowledging all of this I am feeling more relaxed with the quiet house and the stillness of the night. I’ve blown my cover and I’m sitting with what is real right now in my heart. So I feel connected to me.

As I  start to feel ok with being alone, a person comes into my room and starts to chat with me. So I’m not really alone and that, I realize, is a message from my soul. That brings a smile to my heart. I am never really alone because my soul is always with me.

P.S. November is characterized by Hexagram 2, The Receptive. The hexagram has all yin lines which characterize a time that is still, quiet, dark. It’s more like being than doing. We might feel that stillness as emptiness, and be reminded of loss and our own mortality. If we are “doers” we can get busy so we can fill up the perceived space, because that makes us a little anxious. But yin is one part of a great wholeness. The classics advise us to be receptive at a time like this and embody the quality of nature to feel our oneness and connect with our soul.

Quiet and Receptive in November

Quiet and Receptive in November

Several questions come to mind as I attempt to embody the inner environment suggested by hexagram 2, The Receptive, which is the symbol for the energy of November.  The six broken, or yin lines mean that this is the quietest time of the year and a time to be receptive to inner guidance, like the moon is receptive to the light of the sun. Hexagram 2, K’un, characterizes the virtues of the Earth, which is mother to all of us without discrimination or need for acknowledgement.

This is a month to let go of self interest, to listen more than talk, to be receptive and supportive, and to look for inner truth vs respond habitually from our conditioned minds or hidden agendas.

Hua-Ching Ni’s interpretation of hexagram 2* says the search itself for what’s true for us in any situation expands our minds and connects us to the very heart, integrity and foundation of life itself.  “People never realize that their true significance and worth reside in the very being of their individual lives.” It is our beliefs, vanity, expectations and inner conditioning that separate us from each other.

He goes on to say that in the beginning of the search for truth people often get lost because they do not know exactly what truth is. But that clarity gradually develops with experience.

The questions that come in my inner search today are:

  • Am I aligned with finding what’s true and expressing it in the situation I face or do I have an inner agenda?
  • How do I discover what my agenda may be? (i.e. desires, striving, expectations)
  • Does this inner agenda(s) come from internalized pressures or learned behavior, i.e. financial survival, cultural conditioning, family stories and peer pressure that keep it/them in place?
  • Is this habitual inner story blocking me from seeing the bigger picture in this situation?
  • If I soften or let go of this agenda can I perceive inner guidance and organize myself to follow it?
  • Is there anything that keeps me from moving forward with what feels right in the moment?
  • Is there a person or practice that can support me to be more receptive in my current situation?

In keeping with the month, I leave you with these questions in the spirit of connection, and with the hope that they inspire your own insights.

*I Ching, The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth; Hua-Ching Ni, pg 224-5.

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