Loneliness does not occur just because one is alone. Loneliness occurs due to a feeling of disconnection.
Even with the phone calls and video chats, I am still finding myself feeling disconnected from others. I can feel the anxiety and sadness that has gripped the common consciousness. I want to help, but I feel helpless.
Is there a way for me to connect, to send love and hope to others beyond those in my inner circle of loved ones?
This week, I was reminded by my therapist of something called Loving Kindness Meditation, or Metta Meditation. The idea is simple: you focus your mind and spirit on spreading loving kindness to yourself, then to someone you care for deeply such as a friend or family member, then to someone you do not get along with (if this does not cause you too much distress), and then to your community. You can even expand further into the whole world or universe.
There are many variations on the practice. I found a very helpful outline here: https://www.mettainstitute.org/mettameditation.html
I have done this practice sporadically in the past, but usually focus more on Mindfulness Meditation. However, after practicing Loving Kindness Meditation this week, it became clear to me that this is a wonderful way for me to direct my mind and spirit to connect and to spread love and hope. It has become my solemn prayer for healing within myself and in the global community.
When I first started this practice, I had trouble directing loving kindness to those who I find difficult. This is a very common problem. I realized I needed to identify what loving kindness means to me. I narrowed it down to something simple: honoring the search for joy and end to suffering that is inherent in all humanity. I found that even if I do not like a person or approve of their actions, I can acknowledge this part of their being and send them love and kindness. In this way, I am sending love and kindness to the part of their humanity that we have in common.
It has also been difficult to send loving kindness to myself. I am often overly critical of myself and do not always feel worthy of love. The more I practice Loving Kindness Meditation, the more I am able to remind myself that I am worthy of loving kindness and by filling myself up with love I can better spread love to others.
If you are feeling disconnected and heartbroken over the suffering that is occurring, I strongly suggest you try Loving Kindness Meditation. Play with it and make it into something that works for you. You can even make it into a prayer that fits your particular faith practice.
Wishing you all safety, health, joy and ease.