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What Helps You Through Dark Times?

into_the_dark_forestLast week I posted about a friend who took his own life during challenging times in his life. Since that post, many people have shared with me that they too have suffered huge challenging dark moments in their life, even suicidal ones.
I have been chatting all week with friends and asking: what carries you through the Shadowlands? What helps you in dark times? What carried you through the long dark night of the soul? How do you return to the light? Of course, we can only support…we cannot control or change someone. (I know tons of people tried to help our friend, but he made his choice anyway). However, it is useful to have a few resources for challenging times.
I feel that as we move through times of great transition, transformation and change, we need to know how to support ourselves and others through challenges. In spiritual terms, such times are often seen as feeling “cut off” from the Source or from the light. We fall into our dark underworld, the realm of suffering, and the trouble is it can feel really really real.
It is like a big dark cloud passing over the sun: we feel cut off from the light and can fall into a depression. Sometimes it feels as if the light will never return again. This is what causes a desperate state of depression. The suffering can be so strong that it masquerades as being who we are. So how do we remember the sun even when it is behind big clouds? Can we do anything to help find our way back to the light?
Here are some of the ways that my tantric friends use to navigate dark times:
  • Song. Singing is known in Chinese Medicine to open the heart. Song is also used in ceremonies with South American plants to help people to navigate through darkness. Song is itself a medicine. It can uplift you to listen, but even more to song along. Often you don’t feel like it when you are low, so listen until you feel infected with joy! Try this wonderful song that a group of Tantrics recorded in Phangan. Easy to sing along! Hard not to be uplifted.
  • Dance. Now Five Rhythms and Ecstatic Dance is in every major city, and these events welcome you as you are. You do not be in an uplifted mood to go, but can take whatever you are feeling and process it on the dancefloor.
  • Prayer. In Tantra prayer is not simply about begging to an external force to rescue you, but about offering up the low vibrational energy and emotions we are feeling up to the Highest Consciousness and opening up to receive Grace (called “sublimation”). It is actually an act in which the small self (the part that suffers) offers itself to the Greater Self (or soul), through the gateway of the heart. You can imagine the small wounded self in your belly reaching up through your heart to your Soul Self streaming in as light through your crown, and let them connect. Or you can add an element of prayer into your song or dance. Try listening to this wonderful Course in Miracles recording and let the uplifting words of truth bathe your being in light.
  • Shaking. A foundational Tantric practice. Stick on some uplifting dance tracks and shake your body. Shake off the depression. Shake off negative thoughts. Shake off karma and limitations. Shake until you move into a full-body YES!
  • Good company. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. Too often we try to suffer alone, thinking our darkness is too much for others. Try asking clearly for what you need “Hey I’m feeling really stuck in a dark place. Would you be up for sharing cups of tea and cuddles to soothing music for an hour?”. Don’t be put off from a “no”…honour your friend’s truth and ask someone else.
  • Sadhana. Personal practice. It’s during the hard times that our daily practice, be it meditation, yoga, qigong or otherwise, really comes into its own. I am often AMAZED at what a difference one hour can make, and how often in darkness we choose to sit and wallow in the darkness rather than shift the energy to another vibration.
  • Giving. Often we think when we are low that we simply need to receive from others. Yet countless spiritual systems have recognised what is called in Tantra “karma yoga”…selfless giving is actually a balm for the soul. When we give love, we receive love. Giving brings a sense of meaningfulness. It brings a sense of fulfilling life purpose. Find a place to volunteer and help others and you will be astounded how much you feel uplifted!

Guardian-AngelI remember once I was travelling and a situation I experienced threw me into a lot of sadness. I had no good friends around to call upon. But I went to a singing circle and a complete stranger came and sat with me. She saw I was in pain and just held my hand. I was so comforted that I cried and felt completely safe with her. I felt soooo much better after 20 minutes in her loving presence. It turned out that her name even meant “Angel”.

After this amazing gift I decided that I would never miss the opportunity to be someone’s angel. I thought “let me never ignore if I see someone suffering in front of me. Maybe I am meant to be their angel”. I don;t go looking for people to help, but I notice if the Universe brings someone into my field of awareness. As I was taught in Osho’s world, I don’t say “are you ok?” (annoying, and obviously they are not OK else they wouldn’t be in distress), but instead asking simply: “What do you need?”.

Let us have a lot of compassion during these transitional times. We are here to support one another. After all, some days you need support and others you are overflowing with love to share.

If you have special things you do for upliftment and reconnection, then please feel free to share in the comment below.

Comments 210

  1. Cnawan Fahey

    I’ve had the combination of a genetic inheritance that creates a dispostion that tends towards depression and anxiety, that plus some difficult life experiences. And so have on more than one ocassion been brought to such anguish that I’ve had serious thoughts that the only way to end the pain was to end my life. Don’t know how I endured the pain intially, but in subsequent immersions into those darkest nights of the soul, I’ve chosen to remember how in times past, when I thought there was no hope for something better, I did eventually reach a higher plateau in my life than I had know before. Being lucky enough to live on, I eventually got to experience a life that was far better than I had previously known. I think my experience may be typical for those who are brought face to face with such a drastic choice – that life is a bigger rollar coaster than for others, with much deeper lows than most people know. It’s a cyclical life pattern of an up and down ride, and at the deepest lows you’ve got to remember, and trust, that eventually you’ll rise back up, that your life will improve again, even when it feels like there is no hope that it could.

    The combination of clinging to that belief and the practicing the wonderful suggestions you’ve provided above I think is what can make the difference.

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