Darkness Into Light
By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.
As darkness lessens and daylight begins to lengthen, we welcome the coming light, the warmth and hibernating life slowly beginning to return. This transition from cold to warmth, from dark to light, reminds us of the journey from our own darkness into light. It is easy to forget the purpose of walking this path when darkness, pain or sadness envelops us.
Jamie Sams in Dancing the Dream: The Seven Sacred Paths of Initiation, speaks of the third path of initiation. This is the challenge to heal our fears, look at our ego’s sense of self-importance. We may begin healing addictions, old pain or trauma, physical illness, and any other form of imbalance. We may be changing destructive behaviors into constructive ones, listening to ourselves and others in a different way, opening the heart to compassion as we set healthy boundaries.
What is purpose of walking this path? Oscar Wilde tells us, “Where there is sorrow there is holy ground.” Jamie Sams describes it in this way. “When we heal the imbalances created from our past wounds…we see our experiences from a new perspective. Eventually, if we let go of the past, we are able to be authentically grateful for our wounds, our harrowing experiences, and the brutality we may have endured. Through healing those wounds, we become healed healers who have embraced our own suffering and transformed our lives. At this point a person may find their heart opens with new compassion for the suffering of others.”
The catalysts for this process are the challenges and obstacles in our daily lives. For some people, this comes in the form of inner darkness, like depression, trauma, loss, illness, or other challenges. Facing the black void courageously is a difficult but fruitful journey. Naming and owning the challenge is important. It is important to acknowledge the pain or suffering as a real part of our experience. It is also important to acknowledge the difficulty and struggle of experiencing these hard parts of life and have some compassion and empathy for our pain.
The Senoi Indians, natives of the Upper Malaysian Peninsula, teach their children to face the nightmare figures in their dreams by calling on all the help they need and taking all the time they need to face the fearful images, people, or things. When help arrives and the dreamer is safe, he or she can dialogue with the powerful figure revealing his or her power and purpose. Many times the images from the darkness are parts of ourselves that are undeveloped, unrecognized, and need help from our conscious adult selves.
As the person explores the darkness of abuse, trauma, and addiction, protected by the help they call on, calmed by the powerful injunction to take all the time they need, one can face fearful images, feelings or memories. By taking charge of the fearful experience, the person feels powerful and more alive.
As this healing takes place, we can reach out more to others, have a greater sense of the needs and pain of their pain, and have the ability to encourage and support them. This is very different from having others’ pain trigger our trauma. True compassion takes place when our pain, and our ego can step aside and we come from the True Self, reaching out to the suffering person.
This process of owning our own pain with some compassion and healing time for ourselves and the energy to reach out to others in their challenges is a cyclical one. Taking care of ourselves, owning our pain, and asking for help in that process are important if we are to be present for others in their challenges.
In many traditions, this journey is called the shamanic path. In order to help others, one must go through trials, through death, and rebirth. If we refuse to take this transformational path, we may suffer physical illness, emotional imbalances, and relationship issues. Our environment will keep trying to get our attention until we are ready to embrace this process. Remember that energy is constant and is neither lost nor gained.
As we experience longer days, I hope you find the courage to face whatever obstacle faces you today and walk the path into your inner light. As we do our own work, we can be helpful to others in their path through the darkness. The cycle continues throughout our lives.
Jude LaClaire, Ph. D., LCPC is a counselor and educator at the Heartland Holistic Health Center. She is the author of the “Life Weaving Education Curriculum” that teaches creative, effective, holistic problem solving. For counseling appointments, seminars, in-service training or speaker’s bureau, call 816-509-9277 or firstname.lastname@example.org; www.heartlandholistic.com