Through a Dark Night

Sometimes getting older sucks. I know I am known for being an uplifting motivator, but let’s get real. Sometimes this whole aging thing really sucks. Like when loved ones make their transition. Like when you wake up with another part of your body in pain. Like when it looks like there’s nothing but trouble ahead.

Superficial things, like seeing new wrinkles or watching jowls droop further, those I can laugh off. In fact, in one of my talks, I describe some of the changes that have happened to my body, and the way I do has the audience cracking up. It’s easy to look past appearances.

It’s a bit tougher to face life-threatening conditions. Or the loss of yet another dear one. Or to cope with depressive thoughts.

One thing I’m grateful for is the longer view we get as we age. I can remember being a teenager and thinking my life was over because I got a pimple or a cold sore before a big event. Now, a lifetime of experience teaches me that no matter what, I have always made it through.

Listening to another of Michael Beckwith’s radio interviews—this time with Marianne Williamson—I heard them describe suffering as part of life. We all go through difficult times, but what she warned against was rushing to use medications to numb the pain. She and Michael talked about how numbing ourselves causes us to avoid the lessons that come when we enter the “dark night of the soul.” I don’t take any medications, but I thought about how I’ve numbed pain with food and alcohol and busy-ness and TV binge-watching.

So, how to make it through a challenging time? One breath at a time. Surrender to the journey—all of it. Difficult times can be a sign that our soul is trying to break through. Marianne said that psychic pain is like physical pain. When we break a bone, we don’t just cover the pain; we have to reset the bone. When we have painful thoughts, she said, we have to reset our thinking.

Instead of reaching for a drug to stop the pain, allow the pain, endure the pain, and know that this, too, shall pass. Move through the pain without getting stuck in it. Open to the possibility that there’s a message in the pain. Instead of going for a quick fix to get rid of it from outside, go within. Meditation instead of medication.

Marianne pointed out that when we have gone through pain, when we have gotten the lessons from it, the experience sensitizes us to the suffering of others. We can be a beneficial presence for other people’s pain. So, don’t rush to numb away your pain. Michael added, numbness blocks the compassion and kindness of the heart. You can’t numb yourself and at the same time be a being of light.

After listening to the radio interview, I feel less inclined to numb myself in front of the boob tube today. Instead, I’m going to sit and meditate. Maybe my experience of a dark mood can become something that benefits someone else. I know everything in life has purpose. May I discover the purpose here.

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