When we don’t take satisfaction, don’t fully engage in the moment and derive pleasure from what has been accomplished, we can remain apart from what has happened. This can be an example of the “separation” experience, where what is occurring isn’t a part of us, we’re feeling disconnected from it. Instead we perhaps have a judgement about it, think it’s “not enough”, question it, are not happy with it, and want something different, more, or better. Instead of “At-Oneness” we have “aloneness”.
For some this might seem an abstruse point, and yet it goes right to the core of who we are, or rather who we perceive ourselves to be. Being separate is a core human experience. In this, we’re experiencing ourselves as apart from others and from life, the observer of it but not happily so. Thus we’re in relationship to other things and people as subject and object, even separate polarities. You might think, “Well isn’t this just how we are?” And so it can seem.
Being connected and in the flow
If by contrast we’re fully engaged, in the moment, “in the flow” as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would call it, and making “full contact” with the experience, in Gestalt psychology terms, we can feel at one with the experience. It is a part of us, who we are. People report feeling fulfilled and complete when they have this experience. It is they say “life affirming”. We can feel at One in this state, in a sense united with that with which we’re in contact, or with whom. In the understanding of yogis, this can even be the sense of consciously being the Self, Atman. Thus “being yourself” takes on a whole new meaning, “Being your Self”. Here we move beyond authenticity to the level where we can begin to experience Oneness with life and a whole new contentment, joy and happiness.
Some may be feeling separate or disconnected from others in the sense of not enjoying good friendships or relationships. Some can feel “apart” from the group, or not “part of the team”. Some might feel excluded socially. Hence we can feel lonely and isolated. It is a source of much unhappiness. It can also be a scary place, if we allow ourselves to go there. Thus instead one might struggle like crazy to be connected to others, although it can be inauthentic since the underlying pain is unresolved.
In personal development terms it is a useful if perhaps painful awareness in that once we’re aware of feeling separate we have the opportunity to bring ourselves back into connection with ourselves, others and life. It is a matter of exercising choice, shifting one’s state, once you know what is going on, and more about states associated with connectedness and about how you can shift your own state at will. We can however get stuck in separateness and get caught up in the feelings associated with it referred to above. Thus it pays to learn about the art of self-management, managing the mind, and about how to manage and shift these feelings and states, and reconnect ourselves to others and to life.