• Grace Edmunds

Dancing with Darkness

This Human Experience is so peculiar. It contains such a range of circumstances, sensations, and stories. There are moments filled with deep belly laughter, wide grinned joy, ecstasy and others of hallowing grief, confusion and suffering. This is duality as it appears through the way we understand and relate to waking life. Light and Dark. Joy and Pain.

A collective evolution has begun. I have observed many women and men taking their first steps on the path to awakening, often out of a sense that a deeper understanding and connection to life is possible. Speaking from a western perspective, over the last decade there has been an increase in interest in spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation in this area of the world. Moreover, if you look to the corporations that influence so much of our society, a mini-awakening has begun there too. Many of these large organizations are beginning to bring in Mindfulness teachers such as myself who consult on how to create a more mindful, connected, and compassionate culture. We have finally turned the lens on ourselves to observe with clear self(or culture)-awareness what structures are not working for the wellbeing of all.

As one begins stepping towards awakening, there is often an initial chase of bliss. We imagine that spiritual connection is about always being happy and positive or about attaining a state of constant bliss. Even one of America’s ‘Founding Father’s’ Thomas Jefferson once said “The art of life is the art of avoiding pain”. This is the story we have been told and continue to play out, even in our quest for awakening and spiritual connection.

The closer you look, the easier you can see that it is the avoiding, ignoring, and denying of pain that makes it so hard. Suffering belongs to life just as darkness belongs to light. We will not meet a world that is without difficulty, without discomfort, pain and dissatisfaction as it is a part of our very nature. The body thirsts, hungers, pains, and dies and yet we act as if it doesn’t.

I invite a new way. A new way of relating to our human-ness.

Observe the Chinese yin-yang. Within the darkness there is light, and within the light there is dark, and the two create wholeness. They are truly inseparable.

Once we begin to acknowledge our pain, suffering, darkness, hurt and pain, only then can we begin to unravel the stories we have been told and the ones that we continue to tell ourselves. Just as the day does not deny the night’s existence, let us not deny our darkness.

So how do we meet the tender places in ourselves? With care, with patience, with kindness as we would meet a dear friend. Rather than dancing around our pain, let us dance with it. Quite literally. Asking, What does fear move like in me? What does sadness move like in me? Get to know these ways, not in order to conquer them, but in true acknowledgement that they are an inseparable part of you.

Only when we dance with our own darkness, our shadows, can we begin to dance with others, in relationship.

The Wild Feminine holds herself and her sisters through the painful process of awakening. She dances her sadness, fear and pain in order to fully meet it and give it motion knowing that these elements simply belong to the human experience.

This path is not butterflies and rainbows, it is blood and sweat.

As Gabrielle Roth said, “The only way out is through”.

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