Feeling separate, alone, “other”. These are common feelings for human beings.
The truth really is that we’re connected. We need only to see that connection. To let it reveal itself to us. To open, soften, and relax to its truth.
We are connected because we are all part of the human race. We are connected because we breathe the same air. We are connected because someone, somewhere, has felt what you are feeling right this very second.
We are atoms dancing in space. We all are.
We are connected.
Philosophers and sages have always noted that it’s our belief in the illusion that we are separate that causes our suffering. I mean, the Buddha was basically saying this when he said the cause of suffering is desire or craving or — a better translation that I like — clinging.
We cling to concepts, people, thoughts, beliefs, and stories about life in an effort to find our core, to find our belonging. We cling because we mistakenly believe we are separate, disconnected, in opposition to each other.
We can cling to our political stances and our group-think because we want to belong.
But belonging in the name of separation is a false sense of belonging.
So maybe if we truly knew we were connected and could feel it in our bellies, our hearts, in the common breath that we breathe, we wouldn’t need to cling to stances, parties, and ideologies that seek to reinforce our sense of separateness.
The world might seem a little crazy or scary right now. But despite the actions of a few to strengthen the illusion of separation, we truly are all connected.
I remember early in my Buddhist studies, I had a profound insight that cracked something open in me. I was walking down the street feeling sad and alone when all of a sudden I realized that every single person I passed has felt sad too.
A gentleman in his eighties: I realized he had felt sad like me at some point, maybe even right now.
An eleven year old girl: I knew she had felt sad like me at some point, maybe even right now.
An Egyptian man, an African American girl, it didn’t matter. At some point, just like me. Just like me.
This thread of connection through common human experience burst open my heart and I wept. Yeah, I probably looked a little silly crying and smiling at the corner of Clark and California St., but I realized that even in this, someone somewhere had felt what I was feeling right at that very moment.
And that made me smile even wider. Suddenly I was no longer sad. It was more of a tender bittersweetness. It helped to know I wasn’t alone.
Have you ever had your heart broken? Someone in Japan has too. Have you ever felt like an outcast? Someone in Belgium has as well. Embarrassed? Angry? Joyful? Hopeful? Yes, so has your neighbor, and that girl at school you think has it all together, and your teachers and your parents and…well, everyone.
Looking at the moon on a crisp, clear night, take a moment and soak in the fact that someone is looking up at the moon at the exact moment you are.
When you walk into a party and don’t know a soul, there is someone there that feels strange and alone who wants to turn around, just like you. They may not be expressing it explicitly. In fact, they may be compensating for it by bragging and laughing loudly…or remaining aloof and cold.
Whatever you have ever felt in your life, someone has too.
No matter what you are going through, someone has been there and made it out the other side stronger.
So in those times you feel isolated, alone — “other” than the people around you — remember that nothing you could ever think or feel is so “out there” that no one has experienced it.
Fears, desires, hopes, disappointments. It’s all part of the tapestry that make up being a human being.
And remembering this at the times we feel so alone can be a comfort.
So can you loosen your grip — and just for a breath — stop clinging to any notion you may have that you are alone in how you feel? Can you ease up on telling yourself the well-worn story that your struggle would never be understood by anyone else? Can you soften the rigid hold you might have on the belief that you don’t deserve to feel love and connection?
Our shared home is our hearts.
And as Rumi once said: “We are all just walking each other home.”
About the Author: Sarah TAYLOR is one of Your Monthly Mentors, a meditation teacher and a Master Level Reiki Practitioner, as well as an actor, comedian, and writer based in Los Angeles, CA. Drawing from a Buddhist background as well as the other non-dual spiritual traditions, her classes and talks are accessible and filled with humor. She was a series regular for three seasons on NBC’s “In Gayle We Trust”, can be seen in the comedy feature, “The Golden Scallop” and has made appearances on Hot In Cleveland, Bunheads, and numerous other TV shows and films. Read More…