What Being in a Dark Place Taught Me
Updated: Mar 25
Recently, I found myself in a rather dark place. I have experienced these before but they were more a dark grey than pitch black. I mean, no light to be seen, sooty, heavy, simply horrible. The tools I had come to rely on in the past, transformed into a method of distraction from actually ‘being with’ the messiness I was feeling.
I found meditation difficult, too restless in my body and mind. Yoga, yes it made me feel better, but it just seemed to be masking the darkness for a few hours, then it would simply creep back in.
I had no choice, I had to just drop into it. I have always felt that I should lift myself up. Show a brave face. Not this time. I had to let go. Yikes, what a drop.
Days of simply feeling flat, like the world around me became grey. Hours of wailing, no particular story attached. When my mind decided to add a story, the wailing became howling. I began to hide away. There was a deep resistance to getting out of bed.
All I could do was simply be with it, and this is what I learnt while deep in that darkness. Discoveries that finally changed my perspective of my experience.
Yep, feel it. Avoid thinking about it. This simply creates a barrier to it moving through. I quickly learnt that being with the grief, the terribly uncomfortable sensations in my heart, would pass. Allowing myself to cry at random times, began to feel like a relief.
I learnt to be ok with feeling flat. I told myself as long as I’m not harming anyone what’s wrong with being flat? I learnt that using Netflix more consciously, was far more enjoyable and not so numbing. I chose to watch it rather than blindly dive into it.
Let people in
Those around me will know, when I’m struggling, I hide. I don’t return calls or texts. Turning to those close beside me is put on hold. The internal, untrusting wall drops down.
Deciding to turn toward the resistance I felt of allowing people in, was tough. The first time I let my sister wrap her arms around me as I sobbed on the bed, was a turning point. I made a choice that whenever I felt resistance to answering a phone call or text, I picked up. Not all. Enough to receive the support and love that was being shared.
At last, I was learning to share my vulnerability and feel it. I felt a lift after conversations. I felt loved and cared for. I finally began to receive what has always been there.
There are many breath practices that are supportive. Simply choosing to focus on your breath will direct your attention away from a busy mind and create space for clarity.
I found the coherent breath rhythm and sighing/yawning particularly supportive. Sighing and yawning, yes, opening your mouth wide and luxuriating in a noisy dramatic yawn or sigh. Dan Brule author of “Just Breathe” encourages putting them together.
According to Dan Brule’s book “many neurochemicals are involved in yawning, including dopamine, ACTH, MSH, GABA, nitric oxide, serotonin, are all associated with a good yawn. I found allowing myself to yawn deeply and stretch gave great relief to the tightness and contraction I was feeling. Regularly exploring the coherent rhythm triggered a parasympathetic response, leaving me feeling calm and centered back into the present.
To finally acknowledge that I didn’t have all the answers or the solutions to ‘fix myself’ was a relief. As I write this I am reminded of Albert Einstein’s wise words, “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”
Finding a guide who can help you see your challenges through a different perspective is invaluable. Who that guide is, is part of the journey. For me, I wanted to find someone who knew nothing of my history or relationships. I didn’t feel a need to discuss why I was a certain way. Simply, I am this and this is no longer serving me. This was a pivotal point in my journey.
Finding and trusting my own voice with non-bias guidance has been a true delight.
Even when you feel it’s the last thing you want to do. Get outside, whether you stand, walk, run, skip or simply sit. Nature has a way of lifting your energy, especially around trees.
According to a study carried out by East Anglia University being close to, or in nature, improves mental well-being, reduces cortisol and increases sleep duration. So, I made a date with myself to meet in the nearest forest for a walk, stand or sit every day for at least 20 minutes. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, then make the most of it, take time to simply sit, breathe in nature’s rhythms.
I felt the lift instantaneously. Adding Jattis and HA’s to the experience allowed for a playfulness that was needed.
The joy of these discoveries is now an alarm bell when I stop doing these simple, but profoundly supportive things. It has become a wake up to a potential spiraling downwards. I am truly grateful for the dark place, for without it I wouldn’t have discovered any light.