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Most everywhere we turn in this new age of spirituality, there is a positive saying or quote to lift us up into personal bliss and nirvana.
I love these sentiments. I eat them for breakfast, salivating on how it feels inside when I’m right in that place or need a quick pick-me-up throughout the day and then eyeing one more in the evening to get my fix.
Some days sneak in when everything feels murky and heavy and my vision isn’t clear, and these salivating sayings feel bland. I can hear my thoughts as I read the lines—yes, I know this to be true, but I still don’t feel up to my “positive self.” I can see a truth and recognize its validity, while I still feel crummy and can’t shake the mood.
It’s taken some time to develop ways to go into the dark while still holding onto the light.
First, I needed to acknowledge that two truths, while wildly different, can be in the same room sitting on either side of the chair. For instance, I can understand compassion while still feeling great anger for someone. Going into our dark space is uncomfortable; we don’t always go willingly, and when we do it can be hard not to stay.
That’s right—it’s important go there, but we can’t live there. I know this all too well and learned way too young how to wallow in my dark places and build them into castles with forts that close me off to those around me.
It’s ridiculous how a few feelings and couple wrong thoughts can turn into a life half-lived with fear and resistance because I didn’t know how to turn the light on.
But how does one bring in the light when surrounded by darkness?
We must find our center and the one truth that holds us in place. It doesn’t even have to be a thought, it can be a state of being, a feeling of centeredness that we are a divine creature having a f*cked-up moment, wrapped in a lesson waiting for us to open it. This is where we bless this moment and thank it for coming in—but I’m not quite ready for that.
So I sit with it, and calm all these thoughts roaming around like soldiers ready to attack. I imagine I’m in a room where I can sense something greater than myself and I sit and I watch the thoughts come through, almost like sitting on the banks of a river, watching a car drive by.
I shift my perspective to be right in the middle. I sit and wait. It doesn’t take long. Here comes a thought and it’s awful, but I let it pass.
I pull myself back to the spot of my perspective to gain distance and insight. This time, I can feel that thought coming from my left and watch it move over to the right. I don’t jump onto this moving, thinking vehicle, but watch it pass along the bridge. The longer I stay in this perspective and get more comfortable in this spot, I can start to anticipate when it’s coming and decide whether I let that moving thought pass me by or not.
I now have the power to control when these thoughts or emotions come into my awareness. Over time, I can start to control what is allowed in and what is not serving my purpose.
This isn’t to say that I stop the negative thoughts, this is more to say once I get in my position of distance, those thoughts, and the emotions fueling them, can be viewed objectively. I can start to understand why I feel the way I do, layer by layer, and start asking why.
Why am I’m angry? Because I’m hurt. Why am I’m hurt? Because I had an expectation that someone didn’t meet. Why did I have that expectation? Because I wanted something I wasn’t getting. What is it that you want? Ah-ha, now I can start to understand what was the root of those pent-up, negative feelings that can free me from no longer becoming a victim of a situation.
I can now own it and start to bring back my own personal power into this situation because I understand the motives that drove me here and caused what felt like darkness to shroud around me. When I do this, and watch my thoughts enter into my scene, I can decide what stays and what goes.
When we can find the right tools to bring ourselves back, although we never truly left in the first place, we can go to the depths of our soul and return in one piece—stronger than before.
So, what exactly does this mean? It means we don’t have to forego being our usual positive self while we drudge up our wounds and heal them—they can coexist together, and they usually do. We can look at an experience or an event, even cursing its entrance to our life, without letting go of our own honored place while we let it move through us.
I found this exercise helpful while dealing with the loss of a relationship, simultaneously healing and being open to something new. It’s one of the strangest and most profound moments when you can feel your heart weep with pain in one breath, while expanding open with a new, raw exhilaration in the next.
Tugging and pulling, expanding and contracting, shedding and growing. It’s always a balance trying to embrace the dark while still holding onto the light.