Personal Growth

Our Darker States

By Mary O’Malley

Inspiration:  The darker states that are a part of being a human being - fear, sadness, anger, self judgment - are just like the weather - never static, always changing, passing through our lives.  And what they pass through is the vast spaciousness of who we truly are.

Intention:    When I feel a dark state descending, I will remember that it is just passing through like a rain storm, and that the light of my attention will allow the rainbow behind the clouds to shine through.

I was graced for years by an exquisite willow tree outside my bedroom window.  One spring evening as I was getting ready for my son's 18th Birthday, a rainstorm moved into the Northwest and I was drawn to look out the window.  The willow was in the beginning stages of putting on her summer dress of vibrant green, and the sky framing the willow was black and stormy, as rain danced horizontally past my window. 

Suddenly, the clouds opened up on the horizon, allowing the setting sun to bathe this stormy sea with its vibrant light.  The myriad rain drops on the willow's branches were immediately transformed into individual prisms of light.  It was so breathtakingly beautiful that tears came to my eyes.  As I looked out the window on the other side of the house, there was a double rainbow, crystal clear against the dark and forbidding clouds.  I knew as I watched this gift of beauty that it was a metaphor for human life.  Without the stormy sky to frame the opening for the setting sun, the beauty of the willow would not have been highlighted, and without both the rain and the sun, the rainbow wouldn't have been born.

The darker states that are a part of being a human being - fear, sadness, anger, self judgment - become much more workable when we learn that they are just like the weather - never static, always changing, coming and going through our lives.  And what they pass through is the vast spaciousness of who we truly are.  We don't see that because we are so busy resisting them!  If we don't resist, it allows those seemingly static states to float through us like clouds moving across the face of the sun.  Stephen Levine, after having watched his own depression move in and out of his life for years, had a visit from this old friend.  He said that in three minutes he went through the whole cycle that formerly would have taken weeks or months.  With every single part of the depression, he was able to say, "I recognize you."  In that recognition he was able to let go of any identification with these feelings and they passed on through. 

A friend of mine teaches white-water kayaking.  Dancing down the river, cascading over rapids, navigating around boulders, it is a very real possibility that at some time the students will be tossed into the seething cauldron of a whirlpool (just like the whirlpools of our daily lives).  The raging water pulls them down and tumbles them around.  The students instinctual reaction is to fight it (exactly how we fight the struggles in our lives), but what he teaches them to do is to let go and allow the water to move them as it will.  In that nonresistance, the water will lift them up to the top and they can then make their way to safety.  The same is true for our lives; it is our resistance to what we don't like inside of us that actually sucks us into the vortex of struggle and keeps us caught there.  And yet to turn toward our experience, simply bearing witness to it rather than falling into it or running away, allows these states to visit us temporarily and then move through us like clouds in the sky.

It has been my experience that whenever an old state comes rising to the surface of my life, I may initially have a reaction to it, but I know and trust a deep law of the human psyche... "What I resist persist!"  So I look, and listen and give whatever is there the spaciousness to simply be there so it can move through me.  I then can gather the gifts that the darker states always leave in their wake. 

May we all know that the challenges of our lives are for us.  And may you be curious this month about what clouds are passing through the vast spaciousness of your true self!


Committed to being an instrument in the transformation of world consciousness, Mary O'Malley helps people experience the freedom and joy of being awake and aware no matter what is happening in their lives. Through her organization Awakening, she offers groups, classes, counseling and pro-ducts which provide support for your own inner work and thus enable you to utilize the gifts this process unlocks, to benefit yourself and others.




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