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Loneliness as the Doorway to Self-Love

blue door opening to a field of purple flowers

Has anyone else out there felt lonely? My bet is that we’re not alone in feeling this way.

The definition of loneliness is being without company, being cut off from others, being solitary, not frequented by human beings, desolate, sad from being alone, or lonesome. For me, it’s a feeling of emptiness, despair, being hungry for love and connection with a little twinge of fear that I won’t ever be able to fill the void.

Loneliness is a feeling of vacancy, like there’s no one home, like a ghost town in the heart. There are times when I feel lonely and my inner critic judges that there must be something wrong with me. The judgment that it’s not okay to feel lonely only exacerbates the feeling.

About one-third of US adults aged 45 and older report feeling lonely.

While the findings that 35 percent of midlife and older adults are lonely is unchanged from 2010, the population of lonely people over age 45 has grown by 5 million, from 42.6 million to 47.8 million, in the past eight years. (source: AARP).

It’s not that I feel lonely all of the time. I think because of so much isolation during the pandemic, I’ve become accustomed to feeling alone. When I look at my life, it’s not really true that I’m alone. I have amazing circles of friends and family, including my blood family, ashram friends, meditation friends, Ashaya friends, students, colleagues, my workout friends, and more. But still, feeling lonely seems to be independent of whom I’m with. I’ve known people who feel completely alone and isolated even within a partnership or marriage.

empty chair on a watery beach with blue sky

The root of loneliness isn't necessarily the absence of other people but an inner void—you’ve lost your center. You’ve lost touch with your universal self. Your universal self is infinite, eternal, omni-present, and ubiquitous. It’s everywhere always. Yet, we often forget.

“It’s strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.” Albert Einstein

Loneliness is an auspicious state of being that’s completely normal and natural. It arises from our relationship with ourselves. When we feel out of alignment or out of integrity with ourselves, there’s a disconnect, a gap, or an abyss that feels like loneliness. The spiritual truth about loneliness is that we ARE alone. We’re born alone, by ourselves, unless you are twins or more! And we will all die alone. What I mean is that your journey is yours. It’s a solitary journey that only you can take.

No one travels totally with you, inside of you. You are it!

hiker looking at a waterfall

In Tantra, being alone is translated as ALL-ONE! Unity consciousness. Yes, at the absolute level, we are all one and forever interconnected. Yet at the level of the relative personal experience of being embodied, loneliness is quite real and can be a difficult emotion to embrace.

We are hard-wired for love and belonging. We each have a primordial need to belong. It’s instinct. In ancient times, belonging to the tribe was a matter of survival. Inside the tribe you were protected from predators. Love and belonging is still relevant today in terms of developing a healthy sense of self, being cared for and feeling valued.

Now that I’m traveling and teaching live in-person again, my feeling of loneliness is less. Human connection, eye contact, touch, all help to fill the void with warmth and the presence of another being. I don’t have pets. But I can fully understand how a pet can fill the primal need for connection.

back view of young adults with arms around each other

Like all emotions, when fully experienced, loneliness can become a doorway to the heart. Emotions are the body’s guidance system. Loneliness indicates to me that I need human connection. Although I’m not perfect at this, instead of stewing and wallowing in my loneliness, I usually choose to love myself. That can take the form of getting outside and exercising or calling a friend and having a conversation. Usually after a few minutes of taking care of myself, the feeling of loneliness dissipates.

Everything in life is either love or a call for love.

I think we’d all be much better off if we could embrace the feeling of loneliness and see it as a call for love, rather than as a problem. We need to listen to our emotions, befriend them, partner with them to get the message behind what they’re saying to us. Typically, when an uncomfortable emotion arises, we stuff it back down, ignore it, or run the other way.

Way too often we are quick to push aside or shut down our emotions. Author Dr. Susan David, in her book, Emotional Agility, tells us to practice the three C’s whenever a difficult emotion comes up: Be Curious, Compassionate, and Courageous. We want to approach our emotional self with a sense of wonder and curiosity, rather than judgment or shame. We need to give our emotions a chance to freely be there. They have something to say to us, and it takes a little bit of time to receive the message.

artistic silhouette of a head with multi-colored paint flying out the back

When we give ourselves time to hear the message, we can shift how we respond to our emotions.

Like other emotions, loneliness is the doorway to self-love. It’s a call for love from the place inside of us that needs to feel love, needs to feel connection.

May we listen more deeply to what our needs really are and choose to respond in loving, soothing, and nurturing ways to begin to give ourselves what we really need – SELF-LOVE!

Take a walk in nature, ride your bike, call a friend, do yoga, meditate, chant, or dance. May you increase your capacity for loving yourself, and in doing this, you’ll be more loving toward others which will increase your feeling of connection for you and everyone around you.

The next time you feel lonely, I challenge you to bring your lonely heart to your yoga mat! There, may you find the curiosity to explore your emotion, the compassion to be with your emotion and give it space to exist, and the courage to embrace loneliness as an auspicious moment to love yourself in ways that uplift your spirit.

I encourage you to take advantage of all of the ways that Ashaya offers you for Self-Love – Become a member and join the Ashaya kula of heart followers. Attend one of my live in-person workshops. Register for Ashaya Deepening, or join the Ashaya Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training!

Together, may we embrace and release our feeling of loneliness in real and positive ways. I offer you all of my love and support!

Please enjoy this set of affirmations for Self-Love below!


Todd and the Ashaya Yoga Team

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Affirmations for Self-Love

I love and accept myself as a one-of-a-kind being of immense value.

My voice matters. I have something to say, and I say it.

I speak fearlessly from my heart.

I courageously stand in who the universe made me to be.

I am strong. I am powerful.

I am a manifester.

I am a bringer of the light.

I choose to be kind to myself.

I am my own best friend.

It is natural for me to love myself.

I am grateful to be the person I am.

I love each part of myself.

I honor my life.

I appreciate all the ways that I am unique.

I accept my awesomeness.

I love who I am.

I am calm and relaxed in all situations.

I am at peace with all that’s happening in my life today.

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