Prequel, 20 some years ago: I used to have a recurring nightmare when I was a kid. I used to have a dream that I was running from a monster. It would happen every night. I would be in a dark path in the woods and I would start hearing this loud “Thump! Thump! THUMP!” sound as the monster’s foot steps kept getting louder and closer.

I fell to sleep on this particular night and I found myself in my yard, just beyond a path that goes into the woods near my house. Everything was quiet and it had that strange feeling like something was wrong, then I heard the monster’s foot steps coming. I immediately turned and tried to run but I was too slow. All of my movements slowed down like I was running in mud. I was paralyzed in fear. I couldn’t move.

This is where I normally woke up in terror. But something changed.

In that moment I had realized that I had ever actually saw the monster before. I never actually saw it. I always woke up right before it got me. Sometimes I felt its arm grab onto my shoulder, but I never actually saw it. Maybe this particular night I felt like I had been running for too long because I felt sick and tired of trying to run from this dream. The monster could take me, because fuck him, I wasn’t running anymore. I wasn’t going to close my eyes this time. If this monster was going to take me down then I wanted to look him in the face before it did. So I mustered up all of the courage that I had, still scared to death, but I turned around, ready to face my fate.

What happened next I never expected.

As I turned around I waited for the end. But it didn’t come. Slowly, the grimace and fear left me face and I looked where the monster was supposed to be but I saw nothing. There was no monster. The foot steps had stopped and there was nothing there.

I never had that dream again.

Embracing the Light to Heal the Dark: The Darkness is Not our Enemy

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I’ve been in a struggle over the past 2 years. It’s about recognizing two separate energies inside of myself at all times: Light and Dark.

It began about two years ago when I went into a deep meditation. What I felt inside of myself was a battle between light and darkness. At first it was an entirely uncomfortable experience. It was like two cosmic serpents entangled in a duel of eternity. Two cobras entwined from their tails up, like a strand of DNA, stretching throughout the entire cosmos with their heads hissing and striking back and forth at each other. But never once did they touch! Every attack would stop short, like there was some sort of barrier between the bite of the two. Some sort of shield of tension that would never cause the two to truly meet. This tension created a space between the two serpents.

Strangely enough, within this space of tension, where the two giant serpents could not touch, was where our reality existed. Life, as we truly know it here on Earth, existed within the space of tension between light and dark. This space created a sense of pressure, like how you might imagine coal and other minerals are compressed over millions of years to form diamonds and crystals. The pressure between these two divine forces created our physical reality. The density and force between the two condensed into solid reality here on Earth.

Slowly, I began to drift back. I began to come out of the meditation and began to move back into myself, back from the cosmos and into that space of tension where Earth exists. As I began the re-entry process, my immediate thought and sensation was “Why in the FUCK would anyone want to come here?!” I am sorry to use vulgar language, but seriously, after witnessing and feeling these two giant serpents going at it, why in the world would anyone in their right mind want to go back and live in the middle of that?

That is the question and the answer, though, isn’t it?!

I’ve experienced cosmic consciousness before and usually it is incredibly comforting and uniting, feeling a deep sensation of oneness with everything. But this was the first time I felt incredibly uncomfortable in the experience. It was uncomfortable because it was so big that human life didn’t really matter at that level. Here is an analogy to explain what I mean by that: You are aware that you are made up of billions of tiny cells. Inside of you right now, at this very moment, thousands of those tiny cells just died. And at this moment, thousands more just died. Also, thousands just reproduced themselves! All of this living and dying of cells is happening inside of you right now and it always has been, but I bet it does not keep you up at night does it? You don’t care because it’s normal, the dying and regeneration of your cells is a normal function of your existence.

Now, when I was at the cosmic level in that meditation, it felt like humans were the cells and their living and dying was a normal function of existence of the universe. Despite the fact that my consciousness was in the cosmos, I was still entirely aware that I was a human; therefore, the experience was understandably uncomfortable. What was worse was to feel the hollowness and detachment of pure darkness. It truly allowed me to understand how some people are capable of doing terrible things on this Earth if their awareness is stuck in that reality.

As I began to come back from the meditation and began to re-enter myself, all of the fear and uncomfortableness slowly began to settle. I had a complete sense of comfort as I came back to my human life and was surrounded by friends and family, all of us living and loving and struggling all in our own unique and beautiful ways.

At this moment it was very clear to me that the same cosmic struggle I witnessed between the serpents, the dance between the two cobras, is the very same experience we are all going through at the human level. Inside and out at every moment. The universe reflecting itself perfectly.

This experience began to reveal itself to me more over time. A few months later I had a similar experience in meditation, but this time the result was much smoother. The following is how I described the experience shortly after it happened, about 1 year ago:

I had the most profound experience of my life last night. I stared into the eyes of my deepest darkest self.

This is an attempt to capture that experience in words. I have to use words like “light” and “dark”, which are limited, so try your best to not let your preconceived notions of those words cloud your judgement:

I’ve had “spiritual” experiences in the past where I would say I found “the light”. I associated the light as the good thing because that’s pretty much what everything teaches and because it feels amazing!

Last night I entered a deep meditative state and experienced the light so strongly that I was determined to vanquish my “darkness” and harness the light for good, once and for all.

I began to push, like I was igniting a fire inside of myself so strong that it would surely burn up my darkness. I became so enveloped in the light that I could clearly sense the difference between it and the darkness; like how a very sunny day creates very clear shadows.

My light was becoming so big and strong that the darkness took on an insect / animal like resemblance. I could feel it trying to run and hide from the fire I was creating. It was like a centipede running all over my body, trying to hide. I kept cornering it, determined to burn it into ashes…

But the darkness kept coming back! It kept manifesting by making me feel and think things like “This darkness is the Yin to your Yang! Feminine to your masculine!”

I thought this was a trick to try to get me to be weak again. So I ignited the fire even hotter! Pushing so hard and building so much energy that I began to shake and convulse.

I actually thought I might explode!

But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t separate from it. I couldn’t burn it off. The darkness wouldn’t leave…

I was exhausted… and the darkness was still there.

It was clear that I couldn’t get rid of it, I realized I was forced to be with it. I was scared to let the darkness in, but I have a tremendous faith that my highest good is always being supported. So like an unwelcome guest in my home, I looked at the darkness and said “Well, since you’re here and won’t leave, what are we going to do?”

And the silliest thing happened:

In the simplest of words, the light and the dark began to play with each other!

I began to move the darkness around with some control and I could feel it. It even became very cute, like my little black ball I could carry around anywhere. It was fun!

At this point, I was still mostly light with a small dark ball tagging along. I stopped trying to murder the darkness (which is what I was trying to do) and I began to embrace it. Then I thought “Well, if this darkness truly is my other half, then it has to be equal to my light.” From that realization the biggest shift happened:

As soon as I accepted that these two energies were equal — the two halves to my whole — I reclaimed my darkness fully.

Words won’t work here, but it felt like I had finally found my long lost lover. I had abused her and pushed her away for so long. This realization made me fall down and cry. I sobbed so hard… I was so ashamed and sorry for how hard I pushed her away, not just last night but during my whole life. I couldn’t thank and forgive her enough…

The most beautiful thing of all, in spite of my shame for neglecting her for so long, was that she understood and did not blame me at all. She told me she was hurt, but she understood because she WAS me!

I grabbed her and took her into my arms and it was the sweetest feeling I’ve ever felt. It was romantic and beautiful.

The two parts of me coming together in love and acceptance. Light and darkness.

We danced together and it was a feeling of completeness. A completeness of myself.

Inseparable partners forever connected, for better or worse, through love or hate.

I haven’t read that post in a while. It just sent a deep sense of self-acceptance and love throughout my entire being. It was one of the most profound moments of my life.

After this experience I tried to harness both sides completely, but it was not easy. Every religion and deep spiritual teaching I’ve ever read always said that you HAVE to choose one side. I did not want to believe that because the most potent experience of my life came from harnessing both. I honored both parts of who I was and decided that this is how it would be.

However, as profound and beautiful as the experience was, I eventually found myself in a struggle again (I want to clarify struggle here. I wasn’t roaming around dark alleys in a fit trying to figure out who I was. I was literally in the best situation of my life and was very comfortable, but I was trying to figure out what rang truest to me). Even though I was conceptually okay with the two energies that I sensed inside, I still found myself trying to battle my shadow (“shadow” refers to each individuals representation of their personal darkness that they carry inside). Even though I felt like these two energies were important parts of who I was, I felt a need to align with my light only.

This brings us to the present moment. This reality was/is a hard one to feel, understand and accept. I have a very deep sense of connection to both energies. A full understanding, and even an incredibly deep appreciation, for my shadow. Yet feeling like I have to get rid of it at the same time.

The reason I struggled to realign with the light was because I thought it meant denying my darkness completely. How could I deny something that I knew existed? The second dilemma was that I thought that aligning with the light meant that the darkness would become my enemy. Why would I want to become enemies with something that guided me to one of the most profound experiences of my life? Something that seems to be a fundamental aspect of our reality?

However, I have come to realize that aligning with the light does not mean denying your darkness at all. In fact, it means the exact opposite! It means you embrace your shadow fully and actively engage it. Because without your light you would have no way of navigating through your shadow. And we all have our own personal shadow. It is the inevitable by product of living and making choices. Perhaps it is the equivalent of dark matter and antimatter in the universe (it has been proven that when physical matter comes into existence it creates a by-product called dark matter!).

So what is this shadow? What is this darkness I have been referring to?

The most basic definition is unresolved emotional pain. Yeah, that stuff. We all have it, whether you realize it or not. As someone who actively explores himself internally, it AMAZES me how much is in there and the depth and the layers it has. Our shadows are not just our own, either; we also carry various aspects from our parents, family members, friends and the society in which we grew up and spent the most time. For example, I live in Nova Scotia and it clearly has a very distinct shadow that is unique to here. However, it’s important to note, we also carry various light aspects from all of these connections as well!

The problem most of us make is that we tend to hide this stuff away. We tend to bury our shadow deep down in shame and guilt, or straight up ignorance. However, it is the avoidance of facing our shadow that creates the problem, not the shadow itself. A shadow unchecked will grow and become aggressive and will cause serious damage energetically, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

At first I was scared and thought this darkness was a bad thing. But when I embraced my shadow in the above example, it felt like I had connected with my long lost lover because she showed me where I was hurting. She was real with me, but was very gentle once I finally listened. She was desperate to get my attention, but I had been hurting myself even more by hiding from this aspect of who I was.

And that is the point to be made: Our shadow is simply here to show us where and why we hurt. That’s it. It’s not hear to scare us or hurt us, but it will if you neglect it. It will turn into mental, emotional and even physical ailments such as cancer if you let it go unchecked for too long.

You can fight your shadow and treat it like the enemy, but that’s the wrong approach. We’ve been doing that for a long time and it does not work (we’ve been doing it inside of ourselves by bottling it up and we’ve been doing it at the global level by constantly engaging in wars). There may be times that you feel like you need to fight. But usually the fight is the darkness itself. It’s you holding onto the darkness in some way. Because a fight implies a tension, and a tension implies a holding onto, of some sort.

It does not have to be this hard. We make it way worse than what it is.

Let’s use this as an example: imagine you are standing in a pool of water with your arm straight out, with you fingers tightly together like you’re about to karate chop the shit out of something. Now imagine waiving your hand from left to right through the water. Although you could move your arm through the water, there would be quite a bit of resistance because your fingers are tight together. However, you can lesson this resistance by spreading your fingers apart. Or even better, you could turn your hand sideways and essentially slice through the water. Heck, you could even pull your hand right out of the water for a while and enter a place of non-resistance!

Now, imagine that the water in the pool represents the darkness (old, emotional pain) that you carry. You have options on how to move within it. Some of them are much smoother (healthier) than others. Some create much less resistance (drama) than others. How you handle it makes the world of difference. Sometimes you can just float and chill, why do we have to move all the time? And sometimes you outright have to pull your hand out of the water for a break, and that’s okay (most people who are stuck in their shadow do not realize that this is an option). Mind you, just because your hand is out of the water (darkness), it’s important to be aware that the water is still there.

That is actually the literal trick to not drowning in real water: just chill out for a second. It’s not water that drowns people, it’s usually their panic that tires them out and drains their energy. Eventually they give up fighting and that’s when they drown. That’s what I mean by the fact that fighting this will not help. Fighting creates more tension, more darkness.

However, unlike swimming in water, we are just learning how to navigate our darkness (at least in the Western world. Many other places have been aware of this for thousands of years). This is reflected in the fact that our society sucks ass at providing proper space for us to heal. So it’s incredibly important for all of us to remember this: we are all very humble humans who are just learning to swim, heck most of us are just learning that there is water there in the first place, so we can not be too hard on ourselves and others.

But just like real water, we need to learn to chill out with our shadows so we do not drown in them. Now this begs the question: How does someone chill out when their shadow entails abuse, extreme trauma, etc.? That is very important. We are NOT telling their shadow to chill and we are NOT telling them to chill out with their reactions to their shadow. WE, as a society, have to chill out and let them feel it. Let them freak out and lose control, if that’s what they need. We have to provide space and SHOW them that it is okay to chill out WITH their pain.

We also can’t force this process on anyone (tossing people in the ocean when they still haven’t learned to swim is not cool, guys, not cool!).

All of this first seemed like a battle to me. It seemed like a fight. I tried to fight it and it didn’t work. I also tried to carry it like my buddy, but that didn’t work either. The shadow was with me regardless, so I started taking the time (when I had it) to actively face it. This decisions is daunting, and we definitely need to take breaks from it; however, the work itself is actually easier than carrying it because the work allows me to let it go. Awareness creates responsibility, but it also creates freedom.

As we all find the “water” and learn to wade through our shadows, others will naturally follow at their own pace. So there is no need to force anyone to do this. Encourage, guide and offer support, but at the end of the day you have to do this for yourself. Nobody wants to be carrying this shit anymore, it’s tiring as hell! Just like it was tiring for me to run from that monster in my dream.

We are all very tired, we truly are. All we want is to be happy and live a fulfilling life, whatever that means to you. Anyone else is either delusional or blinded by their shadow, it’s that simple. And there are some heavy HEAVY shadows out there. There is some deep seeded pain that has to be uncovered and faced together, we can’t keep flinging it at each other hoping it will go away. If we find ourselves pointing the finger at anyone – “terrorists”, government, friends, partners, etc. – then we have to take a hard look at ourselves. The longer we let it go unchecked, the longer we all suffer a life of separation and non-cooperation.

The government will not change this for us, it’s on us. We have to face ourselves. We have to face the burdens we all carry. Show each other support. Take breaks and celebrate and have fun. Provide space for others and be there for each other. The shadow is not here to hurt us, it’s hear to help us heal. It’s time to put our swimming trunks on and jump in.

Love you all!

Grant