I have lived in my apartment building for over 10 years now and I still don’t know all my neighbors. My building only has eighteen units. People come and go — some faster than others. The idea of living among strangers in such a small building feels odd to me, but it’s a reality.
City living can be paradoxically lonely. We’re all too busy to attend to every person we encounter, with our heads down, earphones in, desperately trying to escape isolation.
Many people struggle to connect because of anxiety or depression, feeling abandoned and alone. They may have no family, no community, no networks on which to lean. How can they find support? Where can they seek refuge from the cold loneliness?
In Buddhist teachings there is a clear pathway to seek refuge from suffering in the three jewels: the Buddha (the divine within and without), the Dharma (spiritual teachings or life path) and the Sangha (community). For those who struggle to find community and have no particular spiritual path, there is always access to the divine.
What is the divine? I like to keep this concept loose and open to personal definition. The divine can be a god or spirit you believe in, or it can simply be that part of yourself (no matter how small it may seem) that you cherish: your creativity, your caring heart, your wise mind. It is that part of you which, when you are connected to it, the outside world and a sense of time seem to melt away.
There are many ways to connect and practice cultivating with your own personal divinity. Make art, sing, dance, play. See art, listen to music, watch others dance and play. Volunteer, help others, connect with nature and animals. Exercise and feel strength in your body. Exercise your heart through practices appreciation and gratitude. Meditate, connect with spirit. Clean your home, solve math problems, build something. Challenge yourself, explore, grow.
It’s important to remember these parts of yourself, and to cultivate them during challenging times of isolation. By cultivating this connection, those challenging moments will pass more quickly and easily.
If you are a queer person who would like to cultivate a connection to some inner support and guidance, join me next week for a free webinar: Meet Your Queer Spirit Guide. Tuesday, August 22nd @ 6 PM. More info and registration here.