As a child, I used to be afraid of the dark and the thought of many undesirable things lurking in it. Throughout the years darkness has taken many forms; anxiety, fear, loneliness, grief, depression, sadness and shame. It’s the painful, sticky, murky stuff that most of us would rather wish away.
The reality is darkness comes and no one is immune to it. When the feelings of “darkness” swell in our bodies we instinctively respond in one of three primary ways: we prepare to attack the problem (fight), run away (flight), or we are unable to respond at all (freeze).
A realization came to me many years ago after going through a season of darkness. I asked myself why does it come with so much presence and force and hold me in its grasp? Light and darkness exist together just as our inhale and exhale are essential to living, just as the sun rises and sets every day. With this realization I took a shift of perspective and started to look at darkness with acceptance. I started to ask what these dark moments came to reveal and began to consider them as messengers of love.
Instead of running away or denying its existence, I found myself softening to the shadows and listening to its message. You see, when I finally sat down and listened, it dawned on me that these moments are there to remind me that everything I need is already inside of me waiting to be awakened and that they serve me for my greater good.
Nothing in our lives is meant to be feared or forced away, acceptance and exploration of these places is our way of finding peace in our lives. They all hold value and keys to doors we are meant to open.
If you’re willing to gently experiment and put intention toward befriending ALL your parts, you stand to gain a lot. Here are five reasons why you should accept, listen and try to understand the dark moments in your life:
1. You will feel more whole.
When you let yourself have access to the full range of your humanness, you will have a more authentic and satisfying life experience. You will take greater pleasure in the vast complexities of being you.
2. You will become more mindful.
Mindfulness and self-awareness are the psychic muscles that get sculpted when studying and tolerating a range of feelings and uncomfortable sensations. Mindfulness practices have been shown to thicken the pre-frontal cortex of the brain — our highest seat of reason.
3. Your relationships will improve.
What we are not aware of, tends to get projected onto the people around us. As you clean up your side of the street, you will be clearer about what is “yours,” which makes for better contact with others.
4. Your physical health will improve.
What you are afraid to know about yourself continues to exist. The body finds creative ways of moving that energy elsewhere, which can cause headaches, shoulder tension, a bleeding ulcer or even more serious health issues. The body and the mind are not separate. When you safely touch into pain and shame, your body softens and becomes revitalized.
5. You will evolve.
“Going dark” requires drawing on an inner capacity, bringing you out of child and into adult consciousness. Choosing to navigate that murky inner terrain strengthens the will and spurs growth and self-development.
Next time you feel a sense of “darkness”, try not to distract yourself. Instead soften into the darkness and let it speak. Accept and explore these shadows and you will see its presence is one of love. Release judgement and criticism of the process and shift from resentment into acceptance. The only way for more light is to courageously ask our darkness to speak, allow it to deliver its message and transform into sweet pools or light.