The spiritual path is often described as a path for light seekers.
Even if you’re not searching for the light, you’re likely looking into the light.
The rise of video content and Zoom calls has forced us to become lighting experts. It’s possible that you have at least one external light to enhance your appearance in selfies, videos, or on video meetings.
When we’re not lighting ourselves for external viewing we are often absorbing the light from our screens.
Even the darkness is often polluted by light. It’s obvious in big cities, where building lights are always on. But even the suburbs are not immune. Streetlights are more likely to invade your darkness.
Unless you live in a more remote area, it’s unlikely you experience true darkness.
As much as I love and crave the light, I’ve learned that the darkness offers a gift — both practically and spiritually.
Practical: Eye and Brain Health
Our eyes, the portals through which we take in the light, are part of our brain. They are working for us from the moment we open them in the morning until the moment we close then at night.
Looking into bright lights and at screens for long stretches induces eye strain and fatigues the muscles of the eyes.
The lights also throw off our circadian rhythms — the internal body clock that influences sleep as well as many other essential physical functions. The constant barrage of light puts our nervous system into fight or flight mode.
Next time you are staring into bright lights for a long period of time, consider that shining bright lights in the eyes is a technique used to intimidate, torture, and show dominance over another. Think about how police officers wield a flashlight as a weapon to throw a driver off balance.
We do this to ourselves when we stare at screens all day.
After sustaining a brain injury in 2015 I learned that I had to take better care of my brain.
Taking care of our eyes is part of taking care of our brains.
Spiritual: Find the Light in the Darkness
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.Mary Oliver, The Uses of Sorrow
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.
Many spiritual seekers believe that they must avoid the darkness in order to stay in the high vibration of “love and light.”
But it is only by embracing the darkness that we can find the light.
The light is within the darkness.
Leaning Into the Darkness
In the Northern Hemisphere we are in the darkest weeks of the year. The rolling back of the clocks tonight will bring into acute focus the shortening days.
For many, including myself, this is the hardest time of the year. My body and mind crave the sunlight and the warmth of summer.
Although this darkest time of the year can be challenging, it can also be rejuvenating. Instead of resisting it by keeping more lights on, we can embrace it by learning to appreciate the darkness.
By sitting in the darkness we can rest our eyes, better attune our other senses, and learn to see the light within.
close your weary eyes
nourish yourself with darkness
see the light within