I have been away from home and my practice for almost three weeks. This is the longest time I have been away from my "life", probably, ever. Whenever I go on vacation I usually take a break from asana (posture practice) and focus on the other, deeper, practices of Yoga. This time I have been focusing on darkness. Yep, darkness.
I know that sounds creepy, dismal and weird but it has been quite enlightening. This exploration of darkness started the day before we left. We had a tornado in Litchfield and the kids and I drove up right behind it. I knew then that it foreshadowed what was to come. Right before we left on our 3,000 mile road trip, I received horrible news in the mail, and it has been pretty much downhill since. This includes an emergency room visit for pink eye, a pulled groin, strep throat and other assorted life nuisances including coming home to a flea infested home.
But my real exploration has been in the human side of darkness; how does darkness exhibit itself in humans?
I have a horrible mean streak that I absolutely despise about myself. I have worked on killing that damn thing for most of my life and on only really bad days does it ever show itself. It is the darkest place in my being and I work at lighting up everything else to keep that shadow hidden.
Some people are great at putting others down. That's darkness. I spent a majority of this summer with my mother. No matter what clothing I had on, she would look me up and down with a scowl on her face. This is new behavior for her but she has a huge dark side so it didn't surprise me when her darkness exhibited itself like that.
I have another family member that is obsessed with designer labels. It's not even about good quality, she just loves to show off like those brand names. This is a huge darkness of the ego; "Everyone will respect you more if they see you wearing that."
I have a friend that is a huge chain smoker. Talk about darkness! How can you shine your light when you are surrounded by a cloud of smoke!
These were just a few of my observations over the last few weeks. And I'm not judging, really. These are just observations from this point of view. The issue resides with how you deal with your dark side and balancing your dark with your light as well as how do you continue to stand in your light when faced with other's dark sides. Here's where the work is. During my little observations, I found that it was hard to focus on someone's light when I was looking for their darkness. I also noticed that my dark side liked it when I was focusing on someone else's darkness. Misery loves company, right? And, vice versa. When I found myself standing in someone else's light, my light shined even brighter.
I bumped into an old friend recently who definitely has a shadow side. This is someone who loves life and wants to experience it all, both good and bad. But this person is so filled with light that the shadow doesn't seem so dark. It was more like that sensuous swirl of yin and yang; an equal play of dark and light. It was in the fascination of witnessing this dance of light that started my exploration. I couldn't help but think that this friend was a light worker and didn't even know it.... And even though I was looking for the dark side of this soul, there was a light shining so bright that I found my own light trying to equal it's luminescence.
The solitary tree in a meadow will continue to grow towards the sun no matter how deep it's roots extend into the earth. If that tree grows to more than 100 feet in the air and even if no other trees grow near it, it will still cast a shadow. But it will continue to strive towards the sun.
Find your light and grow towards it. You will, from time to time, still cast a shadow. But the more you shine your light, the smaller your shadow will be.