Solitude or loneliness? Five Ways to Reconnect with Others

solitude bird sky450Photo Val Ayres
Do you suffer from loneliness? Like many people, maybe you too feel isolated and disconnected. Recently a young guy asked me: “Doesn’t meditation drive you further into loneliness?” This is an interesting question as meditation is a solitary practice. Let’s take a look at loneliness versus solitude.

Loneliness is the feeling of being separate.

Our Western culture breeds loneliness. I think there are five reasons for this:

  • Our traditional social structures have weakened or broken down. Families units are small and we don’t have the support of a large extended network of relatives.
  • Life is very busy. There is not always enough time to be with loved ones or cultivate friendships. (There may be fast food, but there are no fast friendships!)
  • Many people have more virtual than face-to-face interactions with others.
  • Low self-esteem can leads to isolation because the confidence to seek out the company of others gets eroded.
  • Activity that divert the mind from a sense of loneliness, such as TV, surfing the Web, or Internet games drive people deeper into isolation.

Solitude is the sense of intimate connection with all beings.

Have you experienced that?

It can happen at odd moments. For some people it can be triggered when they are in nature or in moments with loved ones. For others, such moments can happen in the context of meditation. In fact, meditation is a way to cultivate interconnection. Meditators are like plants growing in a pool – their roots intertwine under water. That’s why meditation can lead to a happier life. But only if we bring it off the cushion into daily life. Here are five ways to escape loneliness:

  • Practise kindness: complete one act of kindness for another being each day.
  • Take up voluntary work: join Amnesty International, the Red Cross, or a community group.
  • Do something productive: clean your home, weed the garden, or tidy your cupboards.
  • Have fun: learn to dance, go to a pottery class, or go surfing.
  • Practise daily meditation.

Please try out these five ways to escape loneliness and let us know what you experience.

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  1. Trent M. says:

    This is an interesting article.
    I’ve never thought about this. Solitude and loneliness are quite different.
    Sometimes, being chemically depressed, more socially involved situations are better for me than solo activities. If I’m already feeling down, doing things by myself sometimes results in me being more reclusive and separate from the world.
    Friendship has been one of the most important things to me for a long time. Many people see me as a great and trustworthy friend and come to me for advice. I love helping my friends, even if I do take on their problems with my own. Though my parents tell me it’s a habit I should break, I have no intention to.
    I will help my friends and always be there for them just as they are for me.
    Something I noticed you said was about virtual communication.
    Being a typical teenager, I text more than I do ring a friend.
    So recently I’ve been trying to just call up a friend and enjoy a good chat.
    This is harder to do with online friends who are overseas or whatever. However, though I have many friends and acquaintances in real life, I’m quite a bit closer with some of my online friends.
    But this is probably because we share many more interests and most are fellow artists.
    What you mentioned about TV, Internet, and games is interesting.
    I often try to watch TV (but never force myself to watch a program just for the sake of it) or play video games as a relaxing activity. I watch TV and play video games both to get ideas and inspiration for characters I make up or stories I involve in my art. I also use video games as a sort of stress relief.
    As for surfing the Internet, is it bad to do so often if you’re reading blogs or websites like this one or learning about something you’re interested in?

  2. Kosta says:

    Hi, great site to learn from. Picked up some handy tips. Will look in again soon.
    internet games

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