A guest post by Uma Gupta
Some time ago I was at a Kripalu Center, training and learning how to better facilitate workshops for a whole person. It was three days of learning about myself, about group learning dynamics, and about the ways change occurs. Uma Gupta was a group member who did not speak much, until the last day when she had an opportunity to address the group and share her reflections. I immediately knew I was sitting at the feet of a master; an urban, savvy, postmodern, and street smart. There were parts of my experience in life that had loose ends that found their place because of her words. Uma is a whole and worldly person, working with leaders in large organizations, advising them on a variety of topics in global leadership. She is also a Professor of Business, SUNY Buffalo State. This article is her exclusive contribution to RE-SOURCE.
Darkness is as valuable as light. Ying-yang.
Don’t fall for the snake oil salesman that says that you should always feel positive, be positive, shine positive. Life doesn’t work that way. Our challenge is to experience darkness and learn how to leave it behind or co-exist with it or simply learn to master it, sleigh it, and sing with it.
We experience darkness because that is the only way we will embark on our search for light. We experience darkness so that we become intimate with it and then we come up with our own unique spiritual roadmaps to carve our way to light – our light, whatever it may look like.
Darkness is not to be shunned. It has value. It brings pain and when we recover from the pain of darkness, we find a new language to describe joy. We learn to balance light with darkness. We treat both darkness and light with humility and care. We cherish our darkness in noble and wise ways. We eventually come out of our dark alleys to face full-blown sunlight. We see the co-existence of light and darkness. It all depends on which alley we find ourselves in the moment. But as we walk, as our alleys change, light moves to darkness and darkness to light.
Dealing with our darkness is one thing but the shadow that falls on us because of the darkness that others experience or suffer – that is an entirely different story. It is a story with many chapters, a few of which never end.
What can we do when those that we love and cherish experience their own darkness? We watch helplessly. We think we have all the solutions, but they want none of it. The shadow of their darkness lies heavily upon us, and dims our own light at times. Our candles won’t dispel their darkness. How do we know this? Because we have tried over and over again, and we have failed over and over again. We feel helpless, frustrated, angry, disappointed, and confused. Their shadow feels darker than our own darkness.
But this is also beautiful ground to explore our own spirituality and its dimensions and strengths. In the midst of helplessness, we learn the power of surrender. In the midst of confusion, we see clearly that we don’t control others nor their destiny. In the midst of anger, we realize that sometimes we must craft and broker our own peace and that it won’t be handed to us. In the midst of our sorrow, we learn to empathize what others in similar situations must be going through. In the midst of our disappointment, we realize that we too, have disappointed others. In the midst of pain, we learn to breathe softly. We learn to be kind to ourselves. To soothe and heal our broken wings. To be grateful that we have wings.
And slowly, we learn to become aware of the shadows that we cast on others, knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, and we shift our walk ever so slightly so that the sun falls on us in angles that makes our own shadow lighter on others.
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