One does not become enlightened by imagining
figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.
–Carl G. Jung
As I look back over my life, it is quite clear that many of the most powerful outer changes were birthed following a passage of deep pain and challenge. I’ve learned that dark and painful transitions in life are often one of the ways my Soul has of getting my attention, of inviting me into a season of change and new direction.
I’ve been on a conscious path of awakening for close to 30 years, and must admit that for many of those years I desired to reside in the transcendent, in a oneness with Spirit — to be “up” and happy as much as possible. That was my pursuit and it was quite stress-producing, as I was habitually pushing away and denying my pain and darker experiences.
Over time, I began to discover the power and importance of vulnerability, of embracing the full range of my all-too-human thoughts and feelings, which required a lot of courage and strength. Thankfully, I began opening to the experience of Self-compassion — connecting more with my own tenderness and unconditional love — the energies of the heart that are accepting, healing, and forgiving.
Being human, I regularly find myself straying away from these heartfelt energies, and when I do it reminds me of being locked outside my own home late at night. While I can look in the house windows — and even know there is a warm fire burning in the living room fireplace — the experience is one of having misplaced my keys, and it is very cold and dark outside.
I have learned that, at these times, it assists me to invite into my process those things that evoke the healing presence of compassion: placing my hands upon my heart and belly and talking aloud to myself in a comforting and reassuring way; reading some of my favorite poetry; spending some time in the beauty of nature; enjoying warm water surrounding my body in our jacuzzi; listening to heart-touching, soothing music; sharing my painful feelings in an open, tender way with Susan and close friends and receiving their love, etc.
“I realized then that a huge part of my resiliency has come from
my practice of “opening up the places I got hurt.”
When we take the risk to share our hurt,
we open ourselves to deep healing—the antidote to shame.
But it is really scary; adrenaline will literally pump through your
body as you speak your truth. But when we set the intention to heal,
people will arrive in our lives who want to, and
who know how to gently hold our truth. They will not only “stick
around anyway” but begin to open with you,
healing their own hurts. And so it spreads. Someone
has to be brave enough to start the process.”
~ Anne O’Shaughnessy
My life, like this weekly journal, is about embracing the healing and awakening process. I will never forget years ago reading Thomas Moore’s powerful book, The Care of the Soul, for the first time. In it, there is a chapter entitled, The Gifts of Depression. What a relief it was to begin discovering, and learning how to allow, the beauty and gifts that the darker times in life brings. I am continually rewarded whenever I compassionately embrace those places inside that experience fear and pain. Much like the photograph above, the beautiful stars in the night sky become much more available to me whenever I deepen my connection with my Soul’s presence and expression — however it shows up.
by David Whyte
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb tonight.
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was meant to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn that
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
Is too small for you.
With the beauty and blessings of a clear night time sky your way, Gavin