Darkness—what are we without that old friend?
Nothingness. Senselessness. Emptiness. A void in space.
It’s pretty much impossible to be human and be deprived of anything labeled as negative or bad.
We are a river of emotions and feelings, and sadly, a good number of them might not be pleasant. When I started my journey of self-discovery, I found out that it wasn’t pretty or easy—it was brutal and ruthless.
My awakening sometimes showed me the true faces of people and situations around me. But even worse, it also showed me a dark side of myself I wasn’t acquainted with before.
It was painful and scary at first—but it was necessary. To be in touch with that dark side takes a lot of courage, and it’s a humbling and gratifying experience once you accept it for what it is, bless it, and then release it. That old, undesirable friend might be our best friend after all.
I’ve always believed in positivity—the whole you attract what you think kind of thing. But I also learned that what we reject—what we try to cover up (mostly our darkness) and disguise with fake positivity, spiritual bypassing, and unicorn/rainbow talk—will keep showing up to us, uninvited, with a lot more power. It will always want our attention.
A quick analogy to keep in mind when our old friend visits us would be the difference between having that family member show up at our door unexpectedly, holding a number of suitcases, versus meeting an undesired friend on the street while we are on a run.
Wouldn’t you rather stick with the undesired friend for a few seconds or minutes, greet them, smile, and then keep moving on? Think of that analogy every time you try stopping your undesired emotions—your darkness—from flowing. It will come back at you with a lot more power and baggage. It’ll end up moving in with you forever, whether you like it or not.
We cannot stop the darkness, no matter how hard we try.
Fear, anxiety, grief, guilt, blame, regret—all of these feelings are unstoppable. Whatever we resist, persists, they say.
When darkness comes, the first step is to acknowledge it and observe it from a detached point of view. But how can we do that? How can we make friends with our own darkness and stay okay with it? Why can’t we simply get rid of it?
Pema Chödrön says in her book, The Places that Scare You, that we can let life’s tough experiences harden or soften us—and ultimately, that is our choice. Resisting anything will only bring more pain and suffering, but the acceptance of life as it is can be a liberating experience.
I’m not talking about difficult situations that need to be immediately addressed, because sometimes we have to do what we can to survive. So acceptance does not mean to give up. I’m mostly talking about our insecurities, traumas, worries, resentment, energies that reside mostly in the past or the future. Those are the ones that need to be acknowledged before they are released.
Mindfulness will be the key to transmute that darkness into something more peaceful and soothing.
To be of benefit, I am about to share a few passages from some of my favorite authors about dealing with our painful emotions the best way—acknowledging them and then, releasing them.
Maybe meditate on one each day. Try feeling those words in your core, ruminate on that energy, let it fill you up.
Embrace the beauty of your own darkness, and then the light will come shining over us. Enjoy the experience. Be present, as usual.
Please take your time while reading these five passages:
“If you comprehend the darkness, it seizes you. It comes over you like the night with black shadows and countless shimmering stars. Silence and peace come over you if you begin to comprehend the darkness. Only he who does not comprehend the darkness fears the night.” ~ Carl Jung, The Red Book.
When we touch the center of sorrow, when we sit with discomfort without trying to fix it, when we stay present to the pain of disapproval or betrayal and let it soften us, these are times that we connect with bodhicitta.” ~ Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~ Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
“Enlightenment is not something that occurs in the future, after 50 years of sitting cross-legged and saying “OM.” It is right here, in this instant. The reason you’re not experiencing this state of total peace and timelessness is because it is being resisted. It is being resisted because you are trying to control the moment. If you let go of trying to control your experience of the moment, and if you constantly surrender it like a tone of music, then you live on the crest of this exact always-ness. Experience arises like a note of music. The minute you hear a note, it’s already passing away. The instant you’ve heard it, it’s already dissolving. So every single moment is dissolving as it arises. Let go of anticipating the next moment, trying to control it, trying to hang on to the moment that has just passed. Let go clinging to what has just occurred. Let go trying to control what you think is about to occur. Then you live in an infinite space of non-time and non-event. There is an infinite peace beyond description. And you are home.” ~ David R. Hawkins, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender.
“Focus attention on the feeling inside you. Know that it is the pain-body. Accept that it is there. Don’t think about it - don’t let the feeling turn into thinking. Don’t judge or analyze. Don’t make an identity for yourself out of it. Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you. Become aware not only of the emotional pain but also of “the one who observes,” the silent watcher. This is the power of the Now, the power of your own conscious presence. Then see what happens.” ~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment