Many years ago, when I had first entered this world of mind-body, I had a closing meeting with one of my teachers. I promptly showed up hoping he would give me a magical key to unlock and free my deepest longings. I was also anxious, because that’s how I always was, as I incessantly looked for that key.
I sat down across from him with my barely-contained emotions, only to hear this: “Marcela,” he said, in his thick Israeli accent, “all your life, you will struggle to find intimacy with yourself.” That’s it. Meeting over.
He had deftly gut-punched my loneliness, and so I squeezed my un-met longings even more tightly.
I had never equated the chronic anxiousness I felt with a lack of intimacy with myself. I wasn’t even sure what that meant. I simply thought I hadn’t found THE thing to fill the hole. So I kept looking, fervently.
Loneliness was my secret.
It was also my constant companion, and the holidays were always particularly difficult. You see the world tells us that our lives are supposed to be warm, cozy and full of love. You are supposed to have a lover’s eyes to gaze into; a family’s togetherness to enjoy, as you prepare for the festivities; beautiful friends with whom to laughingly clink glasses and dance the night away, under just the right lighting.
And what if you don’t?
Well, you must be doing something wrong, then. And the certainty of this conclusion can overpower. In fact as you habitually compare yourself to those around you, searching for a way out, you just know that everyone else has what they long for. It is only you who doesn’t, which strengthens the feeling that you’re doing something wrong, you’re wrong, and the loneliness deepens.
Isn’t loneliness the accumulation of all the ruptures of our hearts that went unhealed?
Cuts we covered up, when…
Love was not given or received.
Touch was not felt.
Laughter went unshared.
Grief had no comfort.
Friendships ended or never began.
Playfulness found no playmates.
Important moments were missed.
Movements were stopped.
A heart left yours.
A future eluded you.
A talent went unexpressed.
A passion was undervalued.
Shame was hidden.
Desire was discarded.
When we don’t attend to these hurts, they separate us from ourselves, from others, from something far bigger than us. Loneliness is an unnaturally shaped scar that covers up painful cuts to our hearts, traps sadness and leaves longing unexpressed.
But as with any wound, if it’s attended to with care and attention, it can heal.
A daily practice of longing
Our bodies long to be alive, but we often neglect this natural human experience with doing, trying, hoping. This practice is a way to physically tune in to your longings and give them ample time and space.
When you tap into this feeling of longing, it moves you in a direction that is unique to you. One that is not dictated by how your life is supposed to look and feel, but rather one that is entirely in sync with your deepest wishes.
Sit down where ever you are, and set aside 10 minutes to long. You may long for something specific. You may feel the longing of a lifetime. You may long for the world. This is not important. It is just a way in. Pure longing doesn’t need an outcome. It simply needs to be felt as an ache, warmth, flow, deep breath, softness, space.
As you sit, feel your chest. Put your hands on it, if this helps. Let go in your throat, your shoulders, your jaw. Breathe fully and deeply to your chest, and long. As your body settles, let go more deeply in your belly and breathe. Drop more in to the longing. Continuously let go of any need for results.
You may experience sadness or grief. You may feel pain in your heart. You may encounter an unworthiness that truly has no place in this world. You may feel a bit lost or uncomfortable. But keep longing. You’ll have to bring your curiosity and courage to go deeper in, to un-trap sadness, to give space to what’s been unexpressed.
I intentionally do not propose that you define and clarify what you want. This can all too easily turn into needing to succeed or feeling you have failed. There is no right or wrong, you are simply learning to give the longing in your heart the physicality, time and space it needs.
It is an intimate act, solely for you.
Depth and Healing
As I learned to unwind the tightly held longings in my body, meeting shame, pain and grief along the way, I met something essential.
I met my deepest wishes. Those, which come from an honest place inside of me and sometimes have no words. Those, which I’ve been afraid to show the world. Those, which are not immediately attached to action or outcome, if at all.
Rarely did my longings meet what I was told or sold to want. They were deeper. Universal, and yet somehow original.
So while you could say my early teacher was extreme, he woke something up in me. In my unending search to find this intimacy he spoke of, I cracked open my longing, washed away old shame and unworthiness, and the loneliness has softly melted away.
I found a magical key.
For a guided physical practice, click on this link.