A few months ago, while at a birthday party, a wonderful Yoga teacher and healer approached me, and asked if I could write something about spiritual loneliness. She described feeling alone often, despite loving her work – and she was sure that no one would ever guess that she felt this way. I have to admit, I was surprised, too.
Still, I totally understood the feeling – when I was working as a Yoga teacher in Hamburg a few years ago, I felt this way often. Sometimes I spent hours tucked away under my blanket, thinking that I couldn’t possibly share the way I felt with anyone. I was all alone.
I didn’t want to pour my heart out to anyone in moments of doubt or when I was struggling. All of my ‘friends’ were Yoga teachers as well, worked in similar circles, or came to my classes as students. My motto was ‘show no sign of weakness!’
Since there was already an overload of Yoga teachers in Hamburg at this time, most of these were only out to maximize their class sizes, teach at the prime times and bag deals as ambassadors for cute Yoga threads. It was a daily battle.
The daily grind
Of course, tensions ran high when classes weren’t full to bursting from the get-go. Studio owners breathed down the teacher’s neck, threatening to replace them if things didn’t shape up fast.
Teachers who work in the spiritual arena are often expected to know the answers to all of life’s questions. They should always be in a stellar mood, should never get sick or have acne, no self-doubts and definitely no bad days. They are under constant scrutiny and any sign of ‘un-yogic’ behavior is immediately interpreted as weakness or spite.
We’re all on our journey
It’s so important that teachers in spiritual fields stop trying to seem so exalted. Nobody is happy all day long, always inspired and carefree. Nobody. Everyone is on their own journey, wherever that’s taking them.
The role of the exalted is not sustainable or healthy in the long-term. Allowing yourself to show vulnerability or anxiety without fearing that it will be held against you has to become normalized. Much of the ‘spiritual aura’ is made up of façade and self-protection – understandably.
If you make a living on the spiritual marketplace, you can feel drained and empty quite quickly – giving all the time with fewer opportunities to recharge your own batteries. I see this here in Berlin – most teachers dash from one studio to the next, earning a pittance. This, despite the fact that the work they are doing is so valuable. Many of these teachers have little to no time for regeneration or for their own Yoga practice – the pressure is too great.
Spiritual practice itself can also create some real lows. Occasionally, we are confronted with our own darkness and pain. If teachers are constantly propagating the myth of cheery spiritual enlightenment in the form of handstands on the sandy beach of Bali, it’s unlikely that students will dare to share their less savory experiences with the practice. Instead, they may even feel that something is wrong with them.
In a world that seems more connected than ever, increasingly more people are talking about feeling lonely. Maybe because the standard projection to the outside world is one of always being in a good mood, even when you feel like crying your eyes out?We should take each other by the hand more often, dare to speak our truth and share how we feel. Really connect. Click To Tweet
The first smart step might be telling someone close to you how you really feel. Less superficiality and more depth and honesty. That’s what touches hearts and can take a big load off.