Hello my beautiful friends. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I was blessed to spend it with my family and close friends, enjoying wonderful gluten-free meals, plenty of Christmas and New Year’s Miracles and the celebration of yet another birthday.
Did I mention I have also been furiously writing papers for school? The deadlines have not stopped, but I wanted to pause this Friday afternoon and offer you a meditative journey into the darkness. Carl Jung said, “The Shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspect of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance.” It is a difficult thing to encounter ones darkness, but it is a necessary part of the spiritual seeker’s path toward union with the Divine. Buddha faced the darkness of Mara’s armies of demons just before his enlightenment. And Jesus, before he began his ministry, went into the wilderness where he came face to face with evil. If neither of these great spiritual masters was immune to dark encounters, what makes you think, you can escape it? I offer you this simple meditation to begin discovering your own dark. It is essential that you take your time with a process like this. Encountering our darkness comes in its own way, in its own time, but remember that this dark is a part of you and deserves as much love and compassion as your light. I wish you peace on your journey.
Journey Into the Dark
(By Melissa Bennett, adapted from “Guided Relaxation” by Kelly Howell)
Settle into your chair and get comfortable. Relax and close your eyes. There is nothing you need to do except breathe and let the sound of my voice wash over you. Begin taking long, slow deep breaths. Let your breath carry you deeper into yourself. Take a full breath in and breathe out a sigh of relief. A good, deep sigh of relief. Like you might feel at the end of a long, hard day. That’s it. Breathe in and push the breath out indulging in that wonderful feeling of total and utter relief. Imagine that relief spreading all over your body.
Breathing normally now, with each exhalation, allow all the muscles of your body to soften and melt. Just let them go. Easily and gently. Let them go. Easily and gently. Melting, relaxing. Easily and gently. Your body soft, supple and relaxed. Your body is an ocean of energy with each breath flowing inward and outward. Like waves flowing inward and outward. Rising and falling. Rising and falling.
And now imagine that it is night and you are inside an enchanted forest. A private sanctuary filled with fragrant branches, medicinal plants, and snow-covered ground. There are lush evergreen trees with low-hanging limbs and there is an air of peaceful solitude all about you. You can hear the sound of flowing water. Perhaps from a nearby creek or stream. The air against your face is cool and you are deeply refreshed by the tranquil beauty that surrounds you. This place that you’ve created is really quite beautiful and seems to hold something very special for you. Something that will contribute to an ever-increasing sense of ease and well-being. Reach out and touch the green branch of a tree. Feel the smooth, green foliage against your skin. Breathe in its wintery scent and let the healing fragrance permeate and soothe your being.
You begin to walk gently and quietly through the woods and notice that there is a small, warm fire glowing in the distance. As you walk toward it, you find yourself in the center of a small meadow. Next to the fire, you see there is a perfect place for you to settle down and relax. As you settle into this warm and comfortable space, the light from the fire shines all around you. You can feel the gentle warmth seep into your skin, softening all the muscles of your face. Allow the pores of your skin to open and absorb the fire’s warm soothing heat. Relax the thin layer of muscles covering your head. Feel the warmth penetrating your scalp, making it supple, soft, relaxed. Notice all the tiny muscles of your forehead. Notice how they reach around your temples and ears. And feel the golden heat melting away any tension, tightness. Let it go. And now relax your eyelids and all the tiny muscles around your eyes. Let them soften and relax. Notice all the muscles inside your cheeks and inside your mouth. Tell all those muscles to let go. Allow your tongue to relax. You might let your jaw drop slightly. And notice how your neck and throat are also opening up and letting go. Soothing waves of golden warmth cascade down your neck, opening and softening all the muscles inside your throat. Your neck becomes long and fluid. And your head begins to float. Warm, delicious waves of relaxation float down into your shoulders, down through your arms and out through your fingertips. Gentle currents of soothing energy spread downward into your chest, lungs, and heart. Feel your ribcage let go and relax. Waves of golden warmth spiral through your heart center, illuminating and expanding your heart. Breathe and feel the fullness of your heart radiating outward like the rays of the sun shining out into the world in a sunburst of luminous, magnificent light. Light that can be seen, valued, and appreciated. And now the gentle heat cascades down into your abdomen. Whirlpools of soothing, golden energy swirl around your hips and belly. Expanding your sense of self and radiating your power out into the world. The heat washes down into your thighs and legs. And now through your ankles and feet. Relax and let all the pleasant feelings cascade throughout your entire body.
Now, fully relaxed, and filled with warmth, you look up from the fire and notice a soft and beautiful light coming from the edge of the woods toward the meadow. As the light approaches, you realize that this being is revealing itself just for you. As the image becomes clear, you understand that this is your image of the Sacred. This is your image of the Holy, your image of the Divine. This beautiful being has come to join you beside the fire. The light from its body emanates toward you and envelops you in love, kindness, and compassion. When you are with this being, you know that you are safe, that no harm may come to you. Spend a few moments basking in the light of the Sacred.
And now this Sacred Being walks to the other side of the fire, near the edge of the woods, where you notice for the first time a large rectangular shape, draped in dark cloth. It seems to be hanging from the sky, held up by multiple ribbons. It hangs just a few feet above the ground. The Sacred Being removes the dark cloth to reveal a large, golden frame. Inside the frame is what appears to be a black canvas, only it is not a flat surface. Instead it appears to have great depth, almost as though you could step inside it. The Holy explains to you that inside this frame is your inner darkness. Within this frame is all that is difficult, scary, and painful in your mind and in your heart. This is your own inner dark.
The Holy invites you to move closer, telling you it is safe to peek inside. You are not alone. You are protected by the Sacred. As you are comfortable, you approach the frame, trusting that you are held in the cocoon of great love and protection of this Holy Being. You move close. Closer. Closer. Until your face is peering around inside the canvas. You are not afraid because you know that the Sacred is right beside you. You are safe. You are loved. Spend some time peeking around inside your darkness. The Holy is with you. You are not alone. Love surrounds you.
As you feel ready, move away from the frame and stand facing the Holy. Still surrounded by the light of this Sacred Being, you thank your Divine guide for safely showing you how to find your own darkness. The Sacred Being gently touches you and thanks you for having the courage to explore your own darkness. The frame is covered once again and your Holy guide walks you back to the fire. You know that this is the fire of Creation, tended lovingly by the Sacred. You may return to it whenever you wish and know that here, you are never alone. You will always be held in the light of the Sacred.
Once again, you thank your Sacred Being and make your way back into the enchanted forest. The cool air envelops you once again and you are surrounded by the wintery scent of evergreen trees. Your feet find the path that lead back out into the world. As you follow this path back home, feel the snow-covered earth beneath your feet and breathe in the fresh air of new possibilities. With each step forward you are filled with a growing sense of positive anticipation of what the future will bring. Now that you are getting to know your own darkness, with the assistance of the Sacred, you have the opportunity to live a whole and integrated life. Take a few deep-cleansing breaths ands stretch your body into a sense of peacefulness and ease. Slowly bring your awareness back into your body, wiggling your toes and fingers. Continue to stretch and move, bringing your awareness now back into this room. Feel the chair (or floor) under you and as you feel ready, smile and open your eyes.