I’ve recently been reflecting on loneliness, yearning and longing, feelings that my clients often report and with which I am very familiar.
Sometimes I long for another person, whether real or imaginary, and I’ve taken to considering, “Who is it, I long for?”. Is it that person, or is it the feeling I get when I am with them? And if it’s the feeling I get, why is it that I am considering the other person as the provider of this feeling? Are they really the sole provider?
Exploring this with myself and my with my clients I’ve become interested in what the longing tells us about us. Is it sometimes a longing to be known, understood, seen, loved, valued? How good those feelings are, how amazing, how enticing, how lovely, (how addictive). Is that what we are longing for?
Without longing we cannot begin to discover what we need to provide for ourselves. It was longing, on a small scale, that has motivated me to get this cup of tea in my hand, to buy that picture, to write this blog. What was I longing for this morning? With the tea it was pretty physical, I was thirsty, with the picture I had to ponder some more to discover what I was longing for, it seemed to be for water, for nature and the feeling of peace and stillness. Do I get that peace and stillness from buying the picture? Yes, but it’s not guaranteed. Will I get it if I go to water and nature, probably, but again, it’s not guaranteed. So the feeling is not located in the picture or even in nature, is it?
My thoughts this morning are that longing is a wonderful experience, and that delayed gratification gives us a chance to explore the question of what, or who, we are longing for in order to discover the true need underneath, a need I would suggest that we may even be able to meet ourselves.
longing is the foundation of creation
I mentioned the cup of tea, the picture and this blog. The blog arises from my desire to be heard and understood. This understanding, I may or may not get from my reader, but it motivates me, energises me to act, to seek and so longing is the foundation of creation.
Each exploration can be taken a layer deeper, so taking this deeper, why do I long to be heard and understood? What’s that feeling? How would it be to do without it? So I pause, and I bathe in the memory of satisfying my longing to be understood and heard – oh, that feels so good – and now there is another feeling underneath… I know I’m accepted, my breathing frees up, I sigh. I know I am OK. So with a little self reflection I have now discovered that the whole writing of this blog is a lot of energy expended to go a round-about way of knowing I am accepted and OK. So I sit here and I smile and have a little chuckle, because it would be a lot quicker, and far more effective to practice mindful self acceptance. When I stop, when I pause my action, it’s not that difficult to find the peace of being acceptable. So the blogging and the print I bought from the National Gallery, two minor longings this morning, upon examination have led me to understand that I am looking for the peace of acceptance this morning.
Longing is the source of the drive, the energy to actively live. It is hope. So I invite you to stay with and experience longing, yearning, hoping and aching for something or somebody. Don’t fear it, don’t fear the hope and creation hidden within the longing, just look at it and get to know it. By pausing enough to consider what it is we are longing for, without impulsively shopping, contacting, acting, we have an opportunity to deepen our experience and maybe even fulfil our needs more satisfactorily.
A photo of a print of a painting that I always nip in to see when I pass the National Gallery. A personal longing for peace, for release of held breath, takes me there and I stand in front of it and believe I fulfil my longing. Today I consider the possibility of fulfilling that longing without travelling to London, without taking a single step.