Light and Dark

Author's NoteBefore getting to the substantive part of this post, I’d like to make an editorial comment. This piece isn’t the easiest to share, as it involves a personal lesson that’s current. I’m choosing to rise above my discomfort and share this post here—instead of leaving it in my private journal—for the sole intention of serving you. It’s why any of my personal writing ends up in my blog. It’s to follow a distinct call to journey with you to unfamiliar and sometimes difficult territories, by sharing lessons learned from navigating my own path, some of which while still in process, like the focus of this week’s post.

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An Ever Blooming Love Affair

To set the stage appropriately, my spiritual awakening started some 8 ½ years ago when my broken body, heart and spirit were in need of serious repair and healing. Through the magic of synchronicity, I stumbled upon The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer. For this reformed, converted Catholic to begin laying a new foundation for spiritual understanding with that book and program was like entering a new field of study at the graduate instead of freshman level; much of the wisdom went above my head. Even so, that advanced introduction to empowered living ignited my passionate love affair with New Thought spirituality, which continues to bloom a little more with each passing year. This ever deepening love has been nurtured in part by the books I read and with which I work in my spiritual practice.

The GatheringOne of the titles in my current practice is The Gathering by Jim Rosemergy. This book offers a refreshing, eye-opening look at prayer, which is really all about communing with the God of our understanding. This pithy little gem is loaded with simply stated yet profound wisdom. I’m taking my time to let the teachings contained therein to really sink into my day-to-day consciousness.

I’ve recently started working with one of the practices early in the book that calls for inviting the negative aspects of myself to a banquet, letting each aspect speak and accepting each without judgment. It took me a while to even begin that particular exercise, as part of me really didn’t want to go there. When I finally did the exercise, I had to repeat it a few times on separate days to get used to hearing from my dark side and for my shadows to empty out layer by layer what had been pent up inside over the course of my life.

Just the other day, I did the exercise again, as I was reminded that the fear and angst I’ve been experiencing intermittently, which has become more persistent of late, was something I really needed to embrace. To be perfectly honest, up until that point, whenever I felt a veil of darkness starting to befall me, I’d immediately squirm to look elsewhere so as not to give the darkness any attention or energy. But as the dark veil descended, I’d also have trouble accessing that loving, peaceful place inside that I’d be able to feel normally. When that happened, my consciousness would quickly be flooded with all kinds of ego-based judgments: I should know better than to allow myself to sink into despair and negativity. After all the years I’ve spent studying and practicing conscious living principles, I ought to be able to get myself out of this pit. Didn’t I even write a book about being a conscious creator in our lives? I needed to believe my ego that I was immune to experiencing any more dark nights of the soul, after all that I’ve already endured over the years.

Wisdom from the Dark

From my latest experience with “The Banquet” exercise, I was stunned by the insights shared by the darkest shadows within me. Below are some highlights.

First, here’s part of the wisdom Hopelessness had to impart on me:

Light and Dark

Light (top) and Dark (bottom)

Life isn’t a perfect bowl of cherries. The sooner you accept that and embrace that, the more you can achieve Peace. The more you try to push me aside and look for Peace and Love, the more those qualities elude you. We are two sides to the same coin. You can’t reject one without rejecting it all.

Surrender to your dark moments because that’s how you can truly be open to Peace, Love and Non-striving Acceptance. Light and Darkness are two sides to the same coin.

Accept your humanness, and that’s how you can be free from its shackles. Stop trying so hard to fight and bury your dark moments. That’s when you resist what you want so much.

Here are some choice words from Angst:

Throughout your life, I’m the one who gets you to achieve anything. The nice way to call me is ‘Divine Discontent.’

Value what I’ve done in your life all this time. Appreciate me. I serve you, even if it doesn’t feel good to you.

And, here’s part of what the crowd favorite, Fear, had to tell me:

When you’re about to throw up, you know you’re way out of your comfort zone. But that also means you’re growing, stretching.

Let me do what I’m here to do, to signal to you your growth. I don’t intend to keep you from doing anything. That’s your choice. I’m just the barometer. Use me for what I’m here to do. The other side of me is courage.

Two Sides to the Same Coin

Penny Coins

Upon reviewing the transcripts of the latest speeches given by my shadows, I was struck by how much their voices sound like that of God, a.k.a. my inner wisdom. It then dawned on me that it’s the precise message from Hopelessness, that light and darkness are two sides to the same coin. God doesn’t just guide me through the welcomed voices of love, peace, grace, and the like. The dark aspects of my soul have equal wisdom to impart, equal purpose to serve. Darkness and light, angst and equanimity, fear and courage, shame and pride—and all the other pairs of contrasting aspects of humanness—are simply two sides to the same coin, two halves of the same whole, the same oneness. Just like body and spirit are one, so are our human self and our divine highest self. Divinity cannot be expressed through and as us, nor can we fulfill our sacred life mission without embracing our humanness, inconveniently uncomfortable as the latter is often.

Moreover, I’m reminded that I can’t release what I haven’t first embraced. Letting go of negative limiting messages and the charge of any emotion that impairs me isn’t the same as rejecting a part of me altogether. As Fear said, it will always be a part of my human experience as the other side of courage. When I accept fear’s presence in any moment as the barometer it’s intended to be—not the evil show-stopper I try to ignore—I can see the disabling charge of misdirected fear as nothing more than passing energy that I can release. I can then embrace fear in any moment as a signal that a breakthrough abounds. What’s for my highest good is to surrender faithfully to the unpredictable yet magnificent waves of my spiritual voyage in this human body suit—seasick bags in tow notwithstanding.

In closing, the above learning still needs to drop more completely into my heart space. Meanwhile, I hope this post serves to encourage you to take steps toward embracing your shadows. When you’re ready, why not follow Rosemergy’s recommendation and invite the negative aspects of you to speak?

Would love for you to share in the comment box below what you think/feel about the idea of embracing your shadows.

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Photo credit:
“Light and dark” characters: http://th03.deviantart.net/fs70/150/i/2010/309/f/5/light_and_dark___mei_an_by_kisaragichiyo-d328jkw.jpg

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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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16 comments
Kat
Kat

I just stumbled across your website when I suscribed to Aspire and clicked for more of your Information....I'm so happy I did, just reading this post has made me feel a sense of peace/joy (not sure exactly which), I think because I've been struggling with acknowledging my dark side and breaking free of perfectionism for some time. I look forward to reading your ebook and will very likely read "The Gathering" as well. Thank you for sharing your personal writing : )

Lillian Guajardo
Lillian Guajardo

Amazing sharing about embracing our shadows & changing & growing via the other side of the coin. Very interested in getting beyond comfort zone. So thank you for such honest sharing.. as I think about the shadow I'm thinking to get shadows we need light .. That light is encouraging that other sde of us to know ourselves.. And grow & straighten up , like & know our shadows

Linda Joy
Linda Joy

My soulful friend - you are such a blessing to the world! Your willingness to remove all masks and step fully into your role as a conscious living catalyst truly touches and inspires me. Through your beautiful and honest writing you guide, inspire and empower us, your readers, to feel, think and contemplate life on a much deeper level. Your willingness to be real, open and transparent even when it hurts highlights the love you have for your audience and their inner healing. I just wanted to stop by and share that I 'see' your magnificence, honor your wisdom and have the deepest gratitude that our paths have crossed.

Diane Endo
Diane Endo

Thank you, Alice, for these insights. I have wrestled with looking at the "shadow side" for some time. Guess I didn't want to admit that I had dark elements because it might drive friends and relationships away from me, and my connection to people is so important to me. Sounds like my fear of being alone kept me from looking at this. Your post sounds like it gives you a sense of freedom instead. Looking forward to finding that for myself.

Tammie Rainey Gathings
Tammie Rainey Gathings

I really needed to read this. I have experienced many many humiliating moments. My reaction was always to stuff them in a deep closet or to cover them with a sheet. I just wanted to be seen as normal--not even "cool". Addressing my shadows helped me heal. The stress of masking things has exacted a heavy toll on my life in all aspects. I am now thriving as I move forward with what remains.

Scott Mabry
Scott Mabry

Very powerful message Alice. So grateful for the way your story brings light to all of us. When we reject the dark parts of ourselves it becomes very difficult to embrace what is good and light. We must let the dark serve us as well as the light. So much great ancient wisdom here. I especially appreciate your perspective on fear as this is a big participant in my life right now. Seeing fear for the purpose it serves is a wonderful paradigm shift. Thank you!

Carol
Carol

Hi Alice! This is a really great post. I have been living this on and off for the past year or so, due to the man I had in my life and my employer, (Happily, I sent them both packing and feel freer and empowered for it.), and never could actually name or label it. You just did that for me. I did not read your recommended book but instead did it intuitively. Just recently, decided to stop judging myself about it, and here you are! Thanks as usual - Carol

Donna Potter
Donna Potter

Beautiful post Dr. Alice. Never saw it from this perspective which has shed much light for me. Thank you for sharing this wonderful insight. Donna

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

So glad to meet you, Kat! Thank you for visiting my website, for reading this article and for commenting. I'm really glad that my writing here has served you at a time when you could use it; that's why I do what I do. You'll love "The Gathering," and please do enjoy my REACH workbook you downloaded. :-) All the best, Alice

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thank you, Lilly, for reading and commenting. Yes, without light, there can be no shadow, or can we appreciate what darkness is or does for us. It's the beauty of contrasts we get to experience in this life, even if the stuff of shadows and darkness isn't fun while we're going through it. Thank you for your thoughts.

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dear Linda, your comments leave me teary-eyed and utterly speechless...I have no words to do justice for the gratitude I feel for what you expressed, or how truly touched and humbled I am by your words. All I can say is a huge THANK YOU for "getting" me and what I'm trying to do. By "seeing" me, you've offered me the greatest gift I could ever wish to receive from another human being. I'm so honored to know you, Linda, if only virtually for now. I know we'll meet one day!

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thank you for your honest share, Diane. I don't know how many people actually look forward to looking at their dark side, instead of being dragged there, perhaps even kicking and screaming. I definitely didn't want to go there. We all have our shadows, and I'm learning that they make us real and allow others to relate to us. So, I'd say that you won't lose your friends when you embrace your shadows, as they get inspired to embrace theirs--Speaking here as your friend and recovering "shadow dodger."

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thank you so much for your share, Tammie! I can so relate to what you said about "The stress of masking things has exacted a heavy toll on my life in all aspects." I trust you spoke for many, many others. What we try to stuff always pushes back with equal force--often at completely unexpected times that blindsides us. Glad to know you're moving forward and thriving!

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thank you, Scott! You're so right about the ancient wisdom channeled through my experience. It really hit home for me that God speaks to us through the voices of darkness as well. Knowing this doesn't take away the pain and discomfort, as that isn't the point. But since our perspective does drive our experience, knowing that the pain and darkness serve us as we're in the middle of it, not just AFTER the difficult time has passed, does make it easier to breathe into the pain and surrender to the darkness. At least that's how it feels to me. Thank you for sharing your feedback, Scott. As always, it's greatly appreciated!

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thanks, Carol! Now that I know you work with energy, I'm not surprised at all that you were able to intuitively guide yourself through the dark nights of your soul. Boy, can I relate to how dark it can be when there's pain in BOTH personal and professional areas of your life, Sista! Thanks again for sharing. Always good to see you here! Best, Alice

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thank you, Donna, for reading and commenting! As you read, I'm learning to embrace this perspective as well. While it counters our instincts to embrace what doesn't feel good to us, it's truly eye-opening to see how discomfort serves us, not just after the fact when we try to make sense of the experience. All the Best, Alice

Trackbacks

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