The power went out at my apartment this morning. We had a lot of thundershowers last night and I actually woke up to the sound of the electricity and AC shutting down. It just so happened to be around the same time that I usually wake up every morning, so I went ahead and got out of bed. Of course, the first thoughts that ran through my mind were, “How am I going to record my morning video for you? How am I going to make coffee and breakfast?” These thoughts came and went within just a few seconds before I decided to just light a candle. I found my way to the kitchen, poured myself some lemon water (a traditional ayurvedic morning practice that helps with digestion), and then walked to the bathroom with my candle to do the rest of my morning ayurvedic practices of oral hygiene. Carrying the candle to my altar, I then sat for my meditation…
As I was moving through my morning by candlelight, I realized that we rarely allow ourselves to just sit in the dark. How often do we allow ourselves to just experience sitting in the darkness? When I allowed my initial thoughts of “how am I going to do my regular morning routine without electricity?” to pass, then I was able to take in the experience more fully and it was really peaceful! To wake up and not have glaring bright bathroom lights and the hum of electricity, but just to experience peace with the light of a simple candle.
This experience was such a great metaphor for the concepts of light and dark that I have been reading about in A Course in Miracles these past few weeks. Just like I had the experience of physically sitting in darkness this morning, how often do we allow ourselves to sit with those dark emotions that sometimes arise in us? Those emotions of anger, fear, and sadness. Now, I am certainly not suggesting to get obsessed or consumed by these feelings, but to just let ourselves experience them.
My own experiences have taught me that when I sit with those really tough emotions, they pass by much quicker and an underlying peace remains. When I first started this practice, it was really hard! I didn’t really understand it. How could I just sit with these super strong emotions coming up inside me? But, I tried it. I sat in meditation. I sat in stillness. I let those emotions arise in me and the most amazing thing happened! Within just a few minutes of sitting with the experience, those strong negative emotions would pass. And, what was left underneath was just this strange sense of peace. And so, when strong emotions arise in us, we can shed light on that darkness by simply allowing ourselves to sit with it. Letting go of the self-judgement, letting go of the stories surrounding the emotion, and just sitting with the feeling itself.
Because, what is the alternative? What do we usually do in those situations? Generally, we either:
1. Get attached to the story that brought up those emotions. We keep telling ourselves that story over and over again. Maybe we tell our friends the story, and so then their emotions also get wrapped up into it. All of a sudden, we create this escalating whirlwind of emotions! 2. Or, we put our blinders on, stuff it down, and say “I don't have time to deal with this right now!”
The thing is that when we do either of those options, then those experiences and emotions will undoubtably arise again at a later time. If we don’t allow ourselves the time to experience and process our emotions as they arise, then the law of nature will simply present us with the opportunity again and again until we learn what we are meant to learn from it. And so, just sitting with it, and maybe even asking ourselves “What am I meant to learn from this?” is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to shed light on the darkness.
I want to offer you a meditation that can help with this practice. The meditation is a breath awareness practice that I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh. The practice is this:
1.Bring awareness to your breath 2.Keeping your awareness on your breath, say to yourself “Breathing in, I am aware that I am experiencing [emotion]; breathing out, I smile at the feeling of [emotion].” 3.You can use this practice with any emotion! Just fill in the blank…for example, “Breathing in, I am aware that I am experiencing sadness; breathing out, I smile at the feeling of sadness.” a.“Breathing in, I am aware that I am experiencing anger; breathing out, I smile at the feeling of anger.” 4.You can even use this practice to strengthen positive emotions! For example, a.“Breathing in, I am aware that I am experiencing joy; breathing out, I smile at the feeling of joy.” b.“Breathing in, I am aware that I am experiencing love; breathing out, I smile at the feeling of love.”
Please let me know how this practice works out for you! Let me know if any challenges arise, or if I can offer you further guidance on these practices. Leave a comment below, and share this post with your loved ones!