Loneliness and Interconnection

posted in: Dharma Topics | 0

Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday I would like to share with you something that I practice when I am feeling lonely. Feeing alone and separate from others has been a challenge for me much of my life. And when I feel alone in a vast scary universe, it leads me to fear, isolation, and sometimes depression. Even in the midst of a big city like Washington DC, or surrounded by friends and co-workers, a deep loneliness can sometimes take hold of us, and cause us to really suffer. The insight of non-self, of seeing that we are interconnected with all of life, and not a separate isolated self, can be one of the fruits of our mindfulness practice. Recognizing that we are not a separate wave lost in the ocean, but we are the water itself, can give us the ability to stay grounded and content, even during difficult times. And when our feeling of interconnectedness is challenged by difficulty, we can practice to remember it.

One of the ways in which we can practice remembering our interconnected nature, is through the Touching of the Earth, with an emphasis on noticing all of what makes us who we are. In the same way that the flower is made up of the sunshine and the rain, we are made up of other non-us elements, such as our blood ancestors, our land ancestors, and our spiritual teachers. This Thursday, we will practice touching the earth together, focusing on the ancestors and teachers who are always in us and around us, so that we are never truly alone. We will then share our experiences of loneliness, and our experiences of feeling connected. Where and when do we experience loneliness? How have we practiced to transform our loneliness? Where and when do we experience interconnection? How have we practices to maintain our awareness of interconnection? What leads us to forget our interconnected nature? What leads us to remember?

I look forward to seeing you then.

A poem by Thich Nhat Hanh is below.

With much love,

Annie Mahon

"Breathing" by Thich Nhat Hanh appears in Please Call Me By My True Names.


Breathing in,
I see myself as a flower,
I am the freshness
of a dewdrop.
Breathing out,
my eyes have become flowers.
Please look at me.
I am looking
with the eyes of love.

Breathing in,
I am a mountain,
Breathing out,
I feel solid.
The waves of emotion
can never carry me away.

Breathing in,
I am still water.
I reflect the sky
Look, I have a full moon
within my heart,
the refreshing moon of the bodhisattva.
Breathing out,
I offer the prefect reflection
of my mirror-mind.

Breathing in,
I have become space
without boundaries.
I have no plans left.
I have no luggage.
Breathing out,
I am the moon
that is sailing through the sky of utmost emptiness.
I am freedom.