We all have them.....especially those of us who say we don't (actually, I don't know if that's true, but it should be). I'm talking about the interior places that, for whatever reason, we would usually only visit dragged kicking and screaming, or after several visits to a really good therapists' couch.
I have one (actually, more than one, but we're only going to talk about one). A dark place. It has been excruciating for me, largely because I never, ever, wanted to go there, but found myself staring it right in(side) the(my) face. It's been a case of either dealing with it or possibly having to walk away from something that is very important to me. You've surely figured out I'm not going to give away any specifics, but the specifics aren't important to the teaching.
Having decided to face this dark place did not solve the problem. It just put it squarely in my face and made it worse. None of my bullshit could make it smaller, easier, or less painful. What to do? My transformations over the past few years seemed to be completely ineffective.
Out of desperation, I decided to try something I'd heard others had done when faced with their own dark places. Instead of just facing and acknowledging it, I decided to dive into it as deeply as I could. Not only to face it, but to embrace it fully, and slam my consciousness with it, inundating myself with the feelings, with the images I didn't want to consider, placing myself not as an observer, but in the midst, and part of, the nightmare.
While there, I was able to not only face, but totally diffuse the dark place that had a hold of me. Relief was immediate. It was no longer this bad, disturbing place, it just was....and it ceased having power over me.
Thomas Moore, author of Dark Nights of the Soul, 2004, says the dark night is a passage. "To keep the unfolding self alive, you have to open yourself to change, every step of the way"...."to be a person means to be faced every nminute with the decision to live or die, to accept the invitations for yet more vitaklity or to decline them out of fear and lethargy. Dark nights of the soul seem to seek out this unfolding self and create a mood in which the necessary developments can take place."
Not only is Enlightment not cheap, it can also be painful, even when approached with awareness and consciousness.
Note added 1/23/07: One of the hardest elements of all of this process was the feeling that my heart was shutting down around this. I have to stop, breathe, and remind myself to keep my heart open, constantly reciting, "I open my heart to all that arises." This is hard stuff.