As you track a person’s life, there are obvious cycles and rhythms. Up times and down times. Same for a team, city or the planet even. For example the more sensitive among our clients report that, when they wake up in the morning, they can feel the mood of their city or industry. Great coaches give people context for their experience, not only helping them see the cycle and rhythm they are in but also how to get the most out of it. In this blog post, we will explore how to get the most out of a down or dark time.
In Synch With The Rhythm
A dark season for a person may or may not coincide with the physical winter. It can feel pretty wintery though. Everything is slowed down, hard to get moving. Sad or despondent emotions are closer to the surface. All the more challenging if, as it often does, the dark time follows an ‘up’ time season of growth and harvest. Or if your personal rhythm, company and nation all hit a dark winter together.
The opportunity in the dark times is to find the new seeds that change the future.
Release Pent Up Emotion
The benefit in times of feeling more tender is that deeply held inner stagnation can shift. So the first thing we suggest is some kind of emotional release meditation. For example, I like to stretch out my arms, breathe three full quick breaths and then let out a big “ah” sound. I have a beautiful spot on a nearby ridge which is perfect for just letting it all go, and I also keep a small towel handy in my office to muffle the sound when I want to release indoors. I allow myself to feel as fully as I can whatever is going on—especially the uncomfortable feelings right in my gut—and bring them up and out into the “ah” sound.
Drop Into The Stillness
In the wake of that release is a luscious, pregnant emptiness. If you are like me, emptiness is not high on your shopping list of feelings to go after. Many of us fear boredom, scared of what might be found in the absence of stimulation, if we stop thinking, doing and seeking. In any dark cycle, you want to let at least one other person know what is happening for you. Check in with them before and after you explore this territory.
For people who rarely go there, it can be cathartic to deliberately encounter the void. Be open to this quiet, still, emptiness. There may be iterations of emotional release and then dropping again into the stillness. I prefer eyes closed, just being with whatever arises. Paper and pen by my side.
Relieve A Pain Point
Right in there, in that dark empty place, you may start to feel a different kind of pain. We could call it: the pain of the world. At this point, I find it powerful to pick up my pen and write. You might start with a question, “What pain do I feel most connected with?” You will probably find a special affinity, a pain point with which you have potent empathy. When you connect with such a high-affinity pain point, you will likely understand deeply its source and mechanism and you may well see an expected solution. Something you are uniquely positioned to act on. Keep writing until all your insight on this solution is out on the paper.
Originating a new insight probably isn’t going to follow any exact sequence for you. There may be flashes of vision, jigsaw pieces that come together in unexpected ways, people who pull new things out of you. Sometimes it is accessed through pain, other times through pleasure. In many instances, the greatest insights have emerged out of dark times. The practice outlined here is one way to give the best possible chance of using dark moments to advantage.
I would be fascinated to hear about your experiences of this.