Sometimes I get lonely. There are times when it seems no one is reaching out to me, and I feel too weak to reach out myself.
Working helps. If I get involved in some project I have to do, my loneliness dissipates, at least for a while.
Walking helps. I always feel better when I walk.
And there’s this other thing too. It’s been recommended by so many spiritual teachers of so many traditions – I’ve read about it and heard about it for decades – I don’t know why I don’t do it all the time.
Just watch my thoughts. Just observe them. Observing them puts “space” around them so I don’t identify with them too closely.
Surprisingly, I have found that loneliness is just a thought. Or a cluster of thoughts maybe.
A Word of Caution, and Clarification
Concerning self-observation, a few cautionary words from the late Jesuit priest and spiritual teacher Anthony de Mello seem in order (from his book Awareness):
What is this most important thing of all? It’s called self-observation. No one can help you there. No one can give you a method. No one can show you a technique. The moment you pick up a technique, you’re programmed again.”
So that’s the caution part. De Mello proceeds to explain:
But self-observation—watching yourself—is important. It is not the same as self-absorption. Self-absorption is self-preoccupation, where you’re concerned about yourself, worried about yourself. I’m talking about self-observation. What’s that? It means to watch everything in you and around you as far as possible and watch it as if it were happening to someone else.”