In her latest column, Australian pioneer of the practice of mindfulness, Charlotte Thaarup, delves into Mindful Voice Integration and discusses how it can help those who are suffering from loneliness.
For many years I have used a process called Mindful Voice Integration. I play with a certain voice, a certain aspect within us. The voice has various mature and immature forms.
In this column, I am playing with the voice of loneliness. You might find it odd. I did when I first came to the practice but, over time, the practice lives up to how American philosopher Ken Wilber described it: ‘the most astonishing development in Buddhist psychology for the past 200 years.
Me: Hello loneliness, I am here to find out about you, what you offer, what you are, and how you work. Are you okay with that?
Yes, sure. I can tell you I am big right now, partly due to COVID-19, partly due to you humans having lived in such disconnect with yourselves.
Me: And what about not connecting with others?
It all starts with connection with self. Witnessing the inner life without barriers. When you travel with an open and curious heart, there is no loneliness.
I (loneliness) am a sense of being alone with my inner world. This is why a human can feel lonely while socialising and not lonely when physically alone. When you witness your own experience with kindness everything is good company – the birds, the trees, a wave from another person.
Me: I know you also exist in an immature form. Can I hear from that part of you?
Yes. When I am there I point to no friends, no one listens, everyone else is popular, everyone else has lots of friends. I can easily then hand over to my colleague ‘the inner critic’ who will tell me: ‘remember you are hopeless, stupid uncaring, boring, and why would anyone want to spend time with you?
Me: You also culturally have a bad name?
Yes. I am considered linked to being a loser. Cool or successful people are surrounded by other people.
Me: So, due to you being unpopular, do you sometimes get shoved in the basement, the self pretends you don’t exist?
Oh yes, the shame of me makes the host push me underground.
Me: What happens then?
I become part of the inner life that isn’t shared! That which makes the host feel lonely! Odd isn’t it? When I am in the basement the host will pretend to enjoy herself at boring events, she will say ‘yes’ to many things to avoid being alone. She will distract herself, keep busy, to avoid getting near me, to avoid sensing me.
In the meantime, I am sitting in the basement with insights.
Humans exist in a perceived separate form and that is scary for them. It makes them feel vulnerable. They run away from feeling vulnerable by keeping busy, trying to create meaning.
Me: Tell me if you were owned and integrated in the self what could you offer?
I would offer tenderness for the human pain and the fear of not good being enough, and the fear of being excluded. I would offer comfort in being open and sharing innermost experiences. Vulnerability would no longer be part of the vocabulary, just transparency and openness.
Me: You also exist in a mature form?
Yes, as mature loneliness. Allow yourself to pause and breathe while you sense me, taste me. Be curious about how I am experienced within your body.
I am the one who leads you to see that loneliness is just an idea, a construct that arises out of the delusion that we are separate, that we are a little ‘me’. I penetrate these delusions. I am tenderness and self-compassion for the human condition of feeling separate, different, and not good enough.
I offer the self a companionship of kindness, understanding, and safety.
When I am owned, integrated, and empowered, the host walks like a shining beacon of transparency, spirit, with a knowing of pain of separation but piercing the delusion of this perceived reality.
I know and remind: ‘Dear little human, you are one with everything’.