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How To Deal With Loneliness

How to stop feeling lonely – lessons from The Dokkōdō of Miyamoto Musashi

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How To Deal With Loneliness | My Home Vitality

Are you willing and able to walk alone?

Have you ever lost someone you relied upon?

Have you ever been betrayed by a loved one?

Have you ever had your heart broken?

Sometimes life deals you a card that leaves you feeling lonely and abandoned.

Sometimes you must learn to walk alone.

Dealing with a breakup

I’ve recently split up with my girlfriend. The relationship didn’t last long but whilst we were together, things were awesome.

There was lots of laugher, lots of love and lots of physical attraction; however, after a period of beautiful connection, our commitments got the better of us.

I had a full-time job, MHV to run and was committed to keeping myself physically, mentally and spiritually healthy, whilst she also had a full-time job, two children, a dog and a household to run on her own. Not to mention the 3-hour round trip between us.

The timing and our personal situations were just not right.

We agreed that, although we would remain friends, we could not continue with the relationship.

It was hard to take.

You may have been in a similar position, where you were talking to someone every day, the very thought of them made you smile and you were always excited to see them, then the rug gets whipped away from underneath you – they’re not there anymore. The excitement and passion disappear. You are all alone.

The way of walking alone

I had to find ways of dealing with this “aloneness” and found two key resources that I want to share with you.

They helped me during my period of loneliness, so hopefully they will help you too:

  1. Resources mentioned in my article Time Is A Great Healer.
  2. The Dokkōdō of Miyamoto Musashi.

The Dokkōdō includes 21 short doctrines that Miyamoto Musashi wrote a week before he died in 1645.

It is often referred to as “The Path of Aloneness”, “The Way to Go Forth Alone” or “The Way of Walking Alone” and was largely composed by Musashi as a form of giving away his possessions in preparation for death.

It was dedicated to his favourite disciple, Terao Magonojō (to whom The Book of Five Rings was also dedicated).

I like that it expresses a severe, honest and disciplined view of life.

Although it’s probably less common in this interconnected world we live in, you may find yourself alone in your own mind. Use some of these lessons to be ready for that time…

The 21 doctrines of The Dokkōdō

The 21 precepts of the Dokkōdō include:

  1. Accept everything just the way it is.
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
  5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
  6. Do not regret what you have done.
  7. Never be jealous.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
  9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself or others.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
  11. In all things have no preferences.
  12. Be indifferent to where you live.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
  14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
  15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
  16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
  17. Do not fear death.
  18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
  19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
  21. Never stray from the Way.

Now these doctrines are from a different era.

I do believe that a healthy lifestyle includes love, connection and allowing yourself to be vulnerable in close relationships; however, there are some key lessons here that helped me during my time of loneliness…

1. Accept everything just the way it is

This one needs little explanation – just accept things as they are. Nothing is good, nothing is bad, it just is.

The only factor that makes something good or bad is our interpretation of it.

2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake

One way of dealing with the pain of breakup could be to go out, get drunk and find an attractive woman/man to spend your time with (if you know what I mean).

For me, that is never the answer.

It is an artificial way of masking the pain that you have not dealt with internally.

You have not thought about it, understood it and accepted it.

You will continue to carry it around with you for longer than you need, and the chances are it will affect you again in the future… Maybe in committing to future relationships or avoiding a person that you made such good memories with.

Do not fall for artificial pleasures, they never last and will not fulfil you mentally, emotionally or spiritually.

4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world

Musashi may have meant something different to my interpretation of this.

I used this doctrine to ask myself a frank question – who am I to try to control the flow of events?

I can only control the way I act in the present moment. Everything else is down to nature.

I am not an almighty God that decides what happens in life. In fact, I am a miniscule spec in an incomprehensibly colossal Universe.

I have no control. I have no power. I am insignificant.

Nature will take its course and if it is not right now, then so be it. It may be in the future, it may not be, but trying to force the stream will only lead to further struggles and strife.

My ex’s children and our all-round health (financial included) must be prioritised at this point in time.

If it is meant to be, nature will make it so.

6. Do not regret what you have done

Because time is so precious, you can find yourself regretting “wasted” time and energy in a relationship that didn’t work out.

Regret is all based around perspective.

I personally feel no regret for the time I spent with my previous girlfriend because I really enjoyed our time together and that is what life is all about right?

As I mentioned in my article – Are Heartbreak, Grief And Loss Selfish Emotions? – an important part of the grieving process is to celebrate the experiences you had with the people you lost, and do not feel dejected.

If you don’t have any good memories, then appreciate the loss as a blessing in disguise. They clearly did not make you happy, now you have the opportunity embrace the miracle of life fully.

Lesson 8 of the list is also relevant here – “never let yourself be saddened by a separation” – appreciate that you had the connection at all.

7. Never be jealous

It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking about what she is doing, who she is seeing, how her life is without me, but the truth is, this helps no one.

Again, this comes into to doctrine of accepting things as they are.

Jealousy is a fear of missing out and is a selfish emotion.

In order to benefit from this lesson, it’s important to understand that I cannot control what other people have or do, I can only control how I perceive things and what I do in the present moment.

Nature will take care of the rest.

We suffer more often in imagination than in reality | Seneca Quote | My Home Vitality

9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself or others

Like being jealous, resentment or complaint is appropriate for no one.

It heightens negative feelings within yourself and pushes others away.

If you feel abandoned, cheated or simply let down, let it go.

No good will come from holding on to resentment and criticising your ex.

Fortunately, learning to accept everything just the way it is means that you don’t associate with feelings of complaint or resentment – you just go with the flow.

Keep adding to your life toolbox

There are many other lessons in the Dokkōdō that you can use as guiding values in your life like not holding on to things you no longer need, not collecting things for old age and not fearing death.

It’s just another tool to add to your toolbox.

The more quality tools you add, the more chance you have of completing the job of life successfully.

Just make sure you use them wisely.

Shaun.

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