Question: In analyzing some anger and other emotions I’ve been going through, I came to the huge realization that I’m lonely and I always have been. I know that sounds crazy coming from a child of three, raised in a yoga community who is now married but it’s true. Less so now with my husband and that may be why I’m able to finally admit it.
After college, I freelanced in video and documentary for 7 years, mostly working from my home-where I lived alone- at a computer by myself. I used to go to lunch at Whole Foods and attend yoga classes just to be around people for some slice of the day. I knew something was wrong but everybody thought my work was so cool and I was so lucky to be able to wear pajamas to work and set my own schedule.
In the winter of 2010/2011, I followed my passion for African dance to Guinea, West Africa. My heart broke open. They have a word they use for being together. It’s Wontanara. Not only are you together with lots of people and children all the time but that oozing heart feeling of wontanara is ever present, perhaps a gesture of the land or a symptom of extreme poverty, or an ancient cultural treasure that these people possess. For once my thirst was quenched.
I remember returning, full to the brim with wontanara to share with my countrymen and woman. I did for awhile. But after time, the old patterns of competition, individualization, and first world survival took over again. Things are mostly back to normal and I wonder if in fact loneliness is “The Pain I Attract” (to use your words) in my own life.I’ve begun to take steps toward cultivating togetherness.
I’m now turning down freelance film and doc work because I just can’t do it. It feels like a prison. I work in a tapas restaurant with live music. I have continued to practice yoga and study African dance in community. And I just recently started teaching yoga. I fell in love with and married an amazing man who is truly an angel in my life everyday.
However, I’m still seeking greater depth and care and unity from my communities and friendships, coworkers and peers. I sense that my aching heart is not alone, that in fact this is an illness of the first world, that money actually affords isolation.
I would like to serve my sisters and brothers, honor the lesson of wontanara I learned from the amazing people of Guinea, and satisfy my own soul.What should I do??!!
Answer: I was happy to read what you wrote, because you my dear are on the exact path that you should be.
You have felt lonely because you are different. You soul wants more than the status quo and those who are different never feel like they truly belong until they find their tribe. It seems as though your intuition is leading you to yours. To working in lively settings, surrounded by music. To working alongside people who love food and work hard together. Your gut has led you to African music and your wonderful African husband.
Stop seeking greater depth and care and unity in other people and places. Become it and attract it. Do the things that you love. Choose activities that bring you to people who are like minded. Cultivate your hobbies and interests. Choose anything that makes you feel expansive and light. Steer clear of anything that makes you feel heavy and dark and retractive. And don’t doubt that feeling. Trust yourself. Continue to look to serve your community. Not only will you be making other people happy but choosing to spend time helping others in the quickest way to feel incredible about yourself and your time on this planet.
The feelings of loneliness won’t disappear overnight. You are human and that’s a normal human emotion. But, I believe, that one day you will look back at this time and realize that it was actually your loneliness that forced you to grow into a wonderfully happy woman who is surrounded by her tribe and supported in her life.
 So enjoy this ride, continue to do every single thing that you are doing now. Get deeper with you. Care more for you. Unite with the people you know now. You are well on your way to everything that you hope for. Wontanara.
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