“I say there is no darkness but ignorance.” Shakespeare
“We avoid the things that we’re afraid of because we think there will be dire consequences if we confront them. But the truly dire consequences in our lives come from avoiding things that we need to learn about or discover.”
Shakti Gawain, The Path of Transformation
February has been quite a challenging month for a lot of the people in my life. The darker sides have truly been coming to light. I am lucky enough to have gained amazing guides and tools over the past few years so am now at a point that when these shadow parts come up to the surface of my consciousness, I am excited and happy to get the opportunity to work and clear them. And wow, yes, February held a lot of discoveries for me too!
In my February 12th post, I wrote the following paragraph:
“When a buried part rises to the surface and demands to be seen, it provides an amazing chance for growth- a chance to let go of deep hurts that may have been holding you back for a lifetime (or more…). It gives us the opportunity to shine a light on what is going on deep within us.”
I wrote those words knowing that as I was taking the time to ‘Embrace the Darkness’, huge realisations were coming up for me and that something big would reveal itself soon. And joyfully, during that week, all became clear. I discovered a big fear of mine that I had been unaware of.
I discovered that I have been afraid to be truly vulnerable with others. For me, the fear of being vulnerable equates to a fear of showing others any of my ‘negative’ feelings and emotions- things I think others will judge as weaknesses.
I have worked long and hard to get to the point I am today, where I wholly except myself, all parts of myself- imperfections and all! That does not mean however, that I don’t have days where I ‘forget’ this! Where I want to curl up away from the world. Where I cry and feel sad, get emotional, feel insecure, speak to myself or someone else from an unconscious place, allow the collective conscious rhetoric to enter my mind and needle at me, where being human feels too much.
While those days have of course happened over the last couple of years, I haven’t shared that part of myself with others in that time. Instead, I would retreat, go within, and deal with the thoughts and emotions, knowing they would pass soon. And that’s great and something that is absolutely needed- we are all individually responsible for our own emotional world.
“We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.”
It is deeply empowering to realise that you are all you need in this world. To realise all the answers are within and to truly know in every fibre of your being that there is no separation, that we are all one. It is a place I hope everyone gets to in their lifetime as, to me, it is a vital realisation to make. But there is a difference in looking for someone to take on your problems or give you the answers or make you whole and in sharing yourself with another person.
To never show that side of myself to those close to me, means I am never fully opening up about my world, never fully opening up my heart to others. Never giving others the chance to respond in a loving, caring, compassionate way and giving them the chance to be a support to me as I have been to them.
I see the world in terms of energy flow. I fully appreciate that balanced connections with others is all about give and take, a flow of giving and receiving. In order for me to have deeper connections with those I love, I need to be able to allow that flow to be more even. I need to be able to open up more about my vulnerabilities and seek support from those I trust. I need to be able to truly open my heart in order for me to experience deep and authentic relationships.
So upon making these realisations, I took many opportunities to confront this fear head-on during the month.
I have written deeply personal lyrics in my music, and allowed the emotion to come through as I have sung them. I played this music to a friend who I love and respect and whose opinion really matters to me despite my worrying he wouldn’t like it. I have opened up in a wholly new way with this friend by talking to him about my insecurities. I reached out to a wonderful hypnotherapist friend, and asked for his help in finding a way to tackle this vulnerability issue. I have allowed myself to feel past hurts that once again needed another clearing. I have gone out socialising and stayed open to meeting new people and to romance. I have actioned at least one positive thing every day that relates to this fear. And one of those actions was writing this blog post and sharing my vulnerability with all of you! In doing all this, I can feel how much more I have opened my heart to the world.
“You can’t study the darkness by flooding it with light.” Edward Abbey
This blog is all about positivity. I truly believe there is HUGE positivity in the things we humans perceive as negative. To make these realisations and learn these positive lessons, we must reach down into the darkness, sit in it and ask these parts what it is they need.
My hope in sharing my experience of this month is that it may help someone out there in embracing more of themselves too. To realise that every part of us deserves to be heard and respected and embraced in love. That some parts of us will always be hurt- some parts will bear a scar and every now and then give us pain. And that’s ok. We can acknowledge, love, accept and respect those parts of ourselves too.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Every one of us is important, special, worthy. And every one of us deserves contentment, happiness, love, and complete acceptance from ourselves and others.
Be the light and embrace the darkness!
With love and light,
-by Vanessa Lemen
“There is no darkness but ignorance.” ~William Shakespeare
|Philosopher Meditating – Rembrandt|
We need to challenge the notion of living an unexamined life, and rise up to our full potential. There are too many of us lately that are feeling so inclined to continue to run on autopilot and in an uncritical way, and this needs to stop. There’s no better time than the present to make a change and take charge of the persons we’re becoming. We all should be developing and acting upon the skills and insights that we’re capable of. We should not be allowing ourselves or those around us to become unreflective and complacent with the ignorance that seems to be making a place for itself in our current surroundings. It’s going to do damage to ourselves and others if we continue on that way. We’ll miss many opportunities to make our lives, and the lives of others, fuller and more productive.
|The Astronomer – Vermeer|
And teachers – as teachers, we cannot allow ourselves to be superficial, or give assignments that students can thoughtlessly do. As a consequence, this ends up discouraging their enthusiasm and motivation, and creates missed opportunities to develop their self-discipline and mindfulness. We should encourage questions, conversation, interaction, and debate, and be able to show by example the skills and insights that we’ve cultivated, and how this has helped us to grow and evolve and make a place for ourselves. Sure, that’s not always easy, but as individuals who came to some sort of notion that we wanted to share and help others to improve as human beings, I think it’s safe to say that we didn’t expect this to be easy in the first place.
|Russian Schoolroom – Norman Rockwell|
As both educators and students in this role we play in life, we should be aware of what learning truly is, and join forces in helping to achieve the utmost that our learning experiences have to offer. Neither student nor teacher should settle on leading an ignorant or anti-intellectual life. There’s no reason for that. Both should know what to expect when they’re put together. Students should be ready to be challenged, informed, and inspired, and teachers should be there to give them that experience, with the possibility of receiving some of that themselves. This applies to an educational environment as well as an every day life type of situation, and both should know that life doesn’t suddenly shut off when we all enter the classroom, nor does a learning experience end once we exit that classroom.
|The Bookworm – Carl Spitzweg|
Learning is understanding, and in order to truly gain an understanding of something, we need to accept that it may be gradual, and it will become embedded through experience and practice. To attempt to learn without being critical and thoughtful, without analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. If we attempt to teach or learn by mimicking or memorizing only, we’ll never quite gain the understanding. We have to commit to the long term, put ourselves there, and live it. Learning is doing.
Learning is accepting criticism and committing to overcome ego. We all have the capacity to be self-motivated, and can thrive among a community, and collaborate too. We should be open-minded yet critical. We have the capacity to be accepting of others’ points of view as well as checking for accuracy, clarity, logic, and relevance. And while searching for depth and significance, we can be humble, and check our own perception and prejudice. Learning can take place as a part of community with similar interests as well as diverse backgrounds.
|In the Studio – Maria Bashkirtseff|
Learning is communicating. It’s asking questions, getting answers, and finding solutions. As students, it’s good to let others know when or if we don’t understand in order to gain a better understanding. It’s important to be aware of when we don’t understand, and that’s why mimicking doesn’t cut it. To mimic is not to understand. As teachers, we should pose the question “do you understand?” with some leeway allowed for something more than a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ or a silent nod of the head. We all know the saying “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” As educators, we simply cannot fall into the mundane educational routine of what perhaps some of our educating predecessors have taught us. We can break that mold, and by doing so, create an even bigger community that’s based on reciprocity and camaraderie rather than mediocrity and anti-intellectualism. As students in life, we should challenge our mediocre educators and acquaintances, and seek out those who strive to challenge us.
|The Law Student – Norman Rockwell|
Learning is identifying purpose. It’s reflecting and examining ourselves, our thinking, and our motivations. Even in times of insecurity, we should not allow ourselves to succumb to self-deception, narrow-mindedness, or fallacies, but have the self-awareness to know when and if we have, and take the steps to make a change. Learning is arriving at well-founded conclusions based on problem solving and being objective. Learning is creatively thinking. It’s allowing ourselves to make mistakes in order to learn from them as well. Learning is growing and evolving.
Learning is immersing ourselves, observing everything around us, paying attention, and listening. It’s working hard, sticking to it, and never settling, while at the same time being accepting and finding common ground. We should all be able to spend time in the quiet spaces, be alone and contemplative, while also be spontaneous, throw ourselves into the mix, and eventually be able to find the quiet among that chaos. It’s in our nature to be curious, intrigued, and fascinated, as well as discerning and skeptical. This should be encouraged, and not stifled. Learning is discovering, adventuring, and a whole lot of uncertainty. It’s going outside of our comfort zone, and knowing that when it’s tough, that that’s good. This is when we need to keep going. And when we arrive at the answer we were looking for, we’ll most likely find that we’ve created several more questions along the way that now need answering too. Learning is a journey.
|The Alchemist – Thomas Wyck|
Learning is losing. Learning is finding. It’s seeking the new and unknown when we do find our comforts, and knowing we can return to them if we need to. Learning is knowing we might not return because our journey may take us elsewhere, but knowing that our mind can take us anywhere as long as we continue to learn. Learning is expanding, not limiting. It’s multi-faceted, not just specialized. Learning crosses boundaries, and cross-platforms. It’s not just formed on rights and wrongs, or on templates, instruction manuals, and how-to’s. Learning is recognizing that our best results have come from the what ifs, hows and whys.
|The Apostle Paul – Rembrandt|
We should never stop learning, and should encourage cultivation.
We owe it to ourselves and to others.