No matter what our spiritual practices, there is no ensuring we won’t fall into darkness.
The suffocation of our own darkness doesn’t always bear relation to the moon cycle, our menstrual cycle or even being triggered.
But we can feel somewhat comforted by the notion that we are being asked to heal something on a deeper level than ever before.
To navigate this delicate time we need to give ourselves a whole lot of permission that defies the workings of shame, stagnancy and loneliness.
This permission is our medicine.
It’s OK To Not Feel Grateful
Darkness is often initiated by, and feeds on, shame.
We can eliminate further shame if we can accept that gratitude is not always available to us when in darkness.
So where’s the quote that says ‘not feeling grateful all the time does not make you ungrateful’?
Quite simply, if you aren’t connected to gratitude while in the darkness, it does not mean that it has left you. It is better to acknowledge that you’re far from gratitude than to force it out of ‘there must be something wrong with me’.
Acceptance of what is, brings ease; it lets in a little light. And there you’ll glimpse gratitude once more, if only for the permission you’ve given yourself to stop making yourself wrong.
Gentleness & Tough Love
What I’ve learned is that during these times I need to offer myself both soothing, gentle practices and some tough love.
Recently I was making food in the kitchen and my head was spinning out of control and I’d had enough. I grabbed the darkness by the scruff of the neck and told it, “Listen, you’ve had way too much airtime in my life, say what you need to say then fuck off.”
It felt like standing up to a bully. I smirked at myself for being so badass and it actually shifted something.
This tough love was an expression of self-compassion. But it would probably be less effective if I wasn’t also self-soothing.
One self-soothing practice that really helps is going to sleep with my hands on my heart and belly and whispering to my body, “It’s ok, it will pass, I don’t know when but I do know it will.”
Moving the body is one of the most powerful things we can do. It requires the simple awareness, ‘Moving my body will move energy.’ In this sense, the mind just needs to initiate and the body will follow.
The heavier the energy, the more energy it will take to shift and transmute it. We can’t expect to instantly feel better, but we must trust the motion and continue.
It is sustained effort that will see you though. This creates a positive feedback loop: you move and shift something small so you feel a little better which improves the quality of your thoughts, which births a more expansive thinking-feeling state.
It is tempting to crave external circumstances to be different to alleviate our pain but this will only disempower us.
Feeling good in our body is our birthright, yet we must work at it.
Discerning Who To Share With
The thick of darkness is a lonely place.
Holding yourself in solitude can be a necessary part of navigating darkness. But to be witnessed by another in (what feels like) the ugliness and mess is the most powerful antidote to suffering.
It requires immense courage to share from this vulnerable place, which is why it’s important to share within a safe container in the form of compassion.
Compassion is about being listened to objectively and being offered support without unsolicited advice. It is not about the listener onboarding your energy and emotions in the name of empathy.
Empathic listening is not skilled listening and sharing with unskilled listeners can drive us deeper into loneliness.
Compassionate listening reminds us of the truth – that nothing is, or ever was, ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ about us, that we all share similar dark, fear-based experiences on this earth, in this human body.
We are not meant to navigate the darkness alone. It is the courageous process of sharing that brings our deepest healing.
If you do not have the compassionate support you need to move through a dark time, please seek professional help from a good counsellor or psychologist.