Finding light is a powerful concept. We all know what darkness feels like, a darkness of the soul, of the heart. It’s awful. So we’re drawn to the light because that’s where we feel better.
Swami Kriyananda talks about a dark room and how turning on the light completely erases the darkness, as if it never existed. Darkness is totally obliterated by light.
When We Can’t Find the Light
But sometimes when we’re in a dark place, we forget about the light. All we can imagine is darkness. Sometimes we remember about the light, even the faintest memory of light, but we can’t feel it in our heart. I’ve found that in dark times, it’s impossible to turn on the light, to even move toward the light switch, to even care that there is a light switch, because it takes too much effort to find it and flip the switch.
Dark places can be very dark.
When I’m in one of those dark places, it doesn’t help for someone to remind me that all I have to do is turn on the light switch and the darkness will be vanquished. That’s too big a step for me. Asha Praver has a wonderful saying for those instances when deep spiritual truths aren’t the right tool : “That’s absolutely true and completely useless.”
Reaching for the Light
What I’ve learned is the power of baby steps.
Think of a gigantic tower room, enclosed by a tall circular wall pierced by a series of long slender windows. In the middle of this room is the thing that is tormenting you. The room can be as big as you need it to be, so that thing is as far away from you as you need it to be. You’re standing outside the room, looking in through your window, and all you can see is darkness. You know that the light is all the way around on the other side of the tower room, but you’re standing here, in complete darkness. Your job is to make your way, from window to window, until you’re once again, standing in the light.
If you’re strong and resilient and everything works perfectly, then you can just walk around the tower room, glancing in through a window here and there and reach the light.
But sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you might not be able to move along that quickly. You might have to linger at windows, pondering that thing in the middle of the tower room. You might backslide and then move forward again.
Each step forward is won through the choices you make.
Friends Can Help You Regain Light
In even the darkest reality, baby steps can move you in the right direction. It might take a long time, but you can get there. Friends can help. Connecting with people can help. Giving yourself time can help. Turning and helping others can help.
There’s a story of a man who’s walking down a dark street and falls into a deep hole, and try as he will, he cannot climb out of the hole. A doctor walks by, and the man calls out to him, “Doctor, help me out of this hole!” And the doctor scribbles a prescription, tosses it down the hole, and walks off. A while later a preacher walks by and the man calls out, “Preacher, help me, I can’t get out of this hole.” And the preacher says a prayer over the hole and goes on his way. And then a friend walks by, and the man calls out again. His friend looks down the hole, sees him, and jumps into the hole. The man says, “Are you crazy! Now we’re both stuck down here.” And the friend says, “Don’t worry. I’ve been here before. I know the way out.”
The kindness of friends can help you grieve, or help you fight, or simply stay around until things get better.
Moving Energy Helps Us Move Toward Light
Working on a project or going for a brisk walk helps move your inner energy in an upward direction. Think of a stream moving along, with all of these eddies swirling around at the bank. The stream is an analogy for your spine and those eddies of water are like the whirlpools of energy in your chakras. We can examine them and discuss them, and splash around in them. But the most powerful way to pull the stuck energy out of those eddies is to send greater energy along the stream, sweep them away. It might not help to dwell in your darkness, stuck in an eddy. Try to move energy and remember a greater reality.
We have so many tools that we can pick up and use. We can take baby steps and make choices all along the way. Sometimes the choices send us backwards, and sometimes we need to let ourselves slip backwards for a while. But mostly, using the tools of sincerity and self-honesty, we can make choices that move us in the right direction, so that we can stand in the light, and feel its joy.
And once you’ve made that journey a few times, you have more belief that you can make that journey again, whenever you need to.