These last two weeks were particularly dark. The light and warmth from the sun were more prominent, but that seemed to only clarify how indrawn and dark it had been. I was reminded of the 6th day of my recent 7 day silent retreat. We had been in deep silence for some time and it was the first day that I considered not the going into silence, not the being in silence, but the coming out of silence.
After being focused internally for so many days, the idea of speaking seemed distant from where I had grown comfortable– so much so that I was unsure I would be able to find my way to vocalizing thoughts again. I wasn’t sure where I was within myself except far from the surface of things, in an unspeakable space that did not lend itself to being articulated. My thoughts were confusing, full of dead ends and old patterns, there were the highest highs followed by deep lows. But being there had encouraged my to face it all, to be the witness, to not try to formulate any of it but rather to let it ebb and flow. When I finally did emerge from silence, the fruit of the darkness was realized with a feeling of release from the accumulated unspoken and a clearer vision of myself. My ability to speak was more focused, organized and held greater truth from having held vigil to the deep inner churning.
The dark is often a weary place to be because of the very nature of darkness- it has formidable presence as part of who we are, yet it is slippery in its un-crystalized, shapelessness- it is unseen and thus never fully known. This inherent nature leads most of us to be distrustful of its contents and hesitant to want to relate that space to others. It has the secrecy of the shadows and is usually so cleverly hidden under the brightness of what others want to see in us (and what we want to them to see in us) that we allow it remain hidden even from ourselves. We create separation, forgetting the power that can be extracted from plumbing our depths.
So as yogis, we are invited to sit there. To know the darkness in the ways that it can be known. This is the beauty of the winter and what we can honor and hold dear about these last few weeks before spring sets in. Our dark interior can never be shed with light in the same way our exterior can– that’s how it is supposed to be. The core of us is formless, shifting, producing what may never be used, what we can choose not to build upon, as well as being the birth place for what needs the damp dark in order to take root and flourish. It is our own space in which we can wrestle with the dark side of humanity and our own seeming shortcomings and yet be surprised again and again by our ability to expand more fully into the light from having held our depths in full embrace.