Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

 Remember childhood? Do you remember camping in the dark or making forts and turning off the lights.  Reading under the covers by flashlight? Did you have a secret cubby or hiding place that was safe for you? Ever notice how the pirates bury treasure, sometimes in a cave – sometimes a dark cave. As adults, we sometimes lose touch with those hidden places which have such treasures of self knowledge.  We learn to bury the treasure and leave it buried.
Whether it is commitment to a deeper relationship to yourself, to your spirit, or just plain and simple curiosity, when we explore those dark cubbies of the psyche we find treasures.  Most of our daily activities are lived in unconsciousness.  For me, one of the most wonderful things about having a life is about engaging in the present moment. I don’t stay in the present moment all the time.  This is mostly healthy and allows us to get through the day – unless we have the job of say, the Dalai Lama.  But there are times, even seasons built into our lives to allow us an opportunity to get in touch with the dark or unconscious. When we deny the shadow, it often persists in the form of jealousy or judgement. If I deny myself those sassy red heels and then I see the girl who bought a pair of equally sassy red heals, I may feel a little judgemental, dumbfounded, competitive or even judgemental. Why does she give herself permission that I don’t? Well, that could be a looooooong story. Our shadows, dark places and forbidden parts hold all sorts of information. In our society, we try so hard to keep it together, to keep the dark from seeping out.  But the seeping out…is pure genius, especially if it is done consciously. (Especially if done in sassy red heels!)
When I’m working with my clients, I invite them (and myself) to listen to what the dark is trying to say. What is that message just below the surface? If you crawl under that blanket, crawl into the cubby and sit with the surroundings and flash just a little bit of a flashlight beam on the storybook , what do you learn? Does it whisper to you? I often ask, what are you NOT supposed to see, know, hear, etc.? Maybe you prefer to go into meditation to let the below-the-surface information come up for you. I like to journal about it and let the resistance melt away with each written line. Some people stretch to release the unconscious messages told by the body. Others will draw or doodle to let the unconscious thoughts seep through. At the Awakening Center, we treat eating disorders and more. I often ask my clients to go below the surface of the craving, of the binge, of the restricting – to sit with those dark moments. In that space, there is a treasure trove of information.
A long time ago I read a quote from Bono of U2. He said for so long they ran away from the big rock star image. They thought it would make them into sell-outs. Finally, the popularity surrounded them and they simply had to embrace their greatest fear, the over-the-top rock star persona. And they were genius at it. And the quote went something like, “so we gave the rock star image a big smooch”.
I recently had an experience where my greatest fear became reality. That dark place showed up. I went into it like a cubby. In a way, I had no choice. Everything I’d done to keep it below the surface, all those lovingly proactive steps blew up. There is something raw and truthful about being with the dark. It allows us to be in present time. The opposite is true when we avoid the dark.  For me, I found gratitude. For me, I found places in which I could bring in more self love.
So, as Spring and Summer bring light to our days, consider bringing light to those hidden messages. Exploration opens up new and broader ranges of possibilities. Don’t be afraid of the dark. 

By: Erin Diedling

1 comment:

  1. Your essay reminds me how much I loved to go camping as a child. Being in the dark with a flashlight felt so adventurous to me. Sitting around a campfire at night still brings that feeling of adventure back to me.