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Loneliness as a Mentor

In her book “When Things Fall Apart”, Pema Chodron likens sitting with our own loneliness to going into detox.

“Boy, that doesn’t sound like fun!” I thought when I first read her words.

But it sure made me curious.

Is it? Is the experience of my own loneliness really that uncomfortable – or transformative?

So I sat with it. I had a perfect opportunity the other night in my meditation class, so I marched right into that space where I often feel inexplicably lonely, and I sat down to wait.

It didn’t take long. Before five minutes had passed I started to squirm. To fidget. To THINK.

Oh god. The thinking. That’s the worst.

9 thoughts on “Loneliness as a Mentor

  • January 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    I have been alone for 7 years. I hate it, but I enjoy my company. That is why I hesitated to get a divorce after 31 years of abuse….fear of being alone.

    Loneliness doesn’t teach me anything.

    I made peace with my lonliness, because to not do so would be ridiculous….I would be miserable…… along with also being lonely!!

    At age 65, I wrote about my life of overcoming and won a scholarship, and I am a freshman!

    • January 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      I love that you enjoy your company. I have gone through that process too – and am so glad i did! Now I can have a really good time with myself (after years of fearing my own company). Thanks for sharing your experiences and congrats on your scholarship!!

  • January 13, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Good to hear.

  • April 11, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I’ve been feeling alone and this came at the right time. I’m glad I started looking around on this site today! You’ve helped me out some today!!! Mentoring, I think, CAN be lonely… but it is what it is, as I am often told! Thanks again!

  • October 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    It was refreshing to read. I read so much about how lonliness is bad for you and unhealthy. There are times that I feel that way.

    There are times when I really do not mind being alone. In fact, it can be pretty nice. But there are times when I feel very bad. I do keep myself busy and occupied as much as I can. That works out well.

    The worst part about being alone is when I don’t feel good or I feel that there’s a health concern that I’m thinking that is threatening.

    It’s much better being alone than being with miserable company. I feel like that’s the only choice I have. At one time a few months ago I had two guy friends and a possibility of a girlfriend going on at the same time. But they are gone now. With the two guys, there was friction, and the possibility of a girlfriend did not work out.

    • October 8, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      Hi Wil – I have read so much about how loneliness is bad too, which is why I decided to try on a different perspective for size. I can totally relate to what you are posting – sometimes I love being alone, and sometimes I’m not so keen on it. But I WANT to love it all the time, and I also agree that being in good company with oneself is certainly preferable to being in bad company with someone else where there isn’t a good fit. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and for reading!

  • January 25, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I really like this post. It is a great reminder of how important the relationship we have with ourselves is. I can’t tell you how many times I was alone, yet did not feel lonely. Or that I was not alone (in the company of others) but felt lonely. It just comes to show, that it is important for us to be aware of our feelings of loneliness and how we react to them.

    • January 25, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Thanks so much for your insights, Jenn. It is an important distinction – being able to work with our own feelings of loneliness just to see how they are affecting us. Thanks for reading!!

  • April 8, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Thank you for the article, it’s helpful to know that I am not alone. I am a big fan of Pema and her humble approach to everyday life such as loneliness and how there is a solution. I have felt lonely most of my 58 years of life even when I am a relationship that I stay in just so I won’t be alone. Sounds crazy, but then when I am not a relationship I want to be in one. I agreed with the article about always wanting to run to something or someone quickly to fill that need or void within to kill the loneliness, it’s so true.
    It’s a vicious cycle I find myself in, trying over and over, expecting a different result, I believe they call that insanity.
    I am 2 months removed from a long distance relationship(1 yr.), where the distance became an issue and it came to an end. So I’m still grieving the loss of that relationship, and I am very lonely at times, and miss my partner a lot. This even makes the loneliness even more intense, and I don’t want to run to dating sites for a distraction again. It’s time for me to sit and become my own best friend, it’s difficult for me because I feel like there is something wrong with me if I’m not in a relationship. I guess that could be a whole new issue. Thank you again, Namaste


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