Quite a while ago, I made the decision to remove myself from the harmful parts of the world as much as I could.
The media reports we are bombarded with daily felt like a virus entering my bloodstream. Being rather sensitive, the negativity and the fire that it ignited in me was almost too much for me to bear.
I wanted a peaceful little presence of my own away from all of the darkness of the world. I wanted a little nest where I could just go about my little life while shutting out all of the chaos.
Wars, murders, child abuse, animal abuse, power struggles of politics, and the attention that it brought to the way that we are harming each other and ourselves seemed like too much of an undertaking for this heart and mind of mine.
I was in a perpetual state of feeling as if I wanted to do something about all of this, but felt completely helpless and I am guessing that if you are reading this that you can relate.
Since then, I became a bit of a recluse by choice.
My love for the stillness of the mornings and seeing beauty in random moments with complete strangers have truly become both enticing and intoxicating to me.
But, I wrestled.
I felt as if I was being ignorant, apathetic or avoidant to what is happening all around me…and I was.
For most of my life, I ran from what I now see as the darkness within me. I was about as crafty of an escape artist as any of them. All of those pieces of me that I could not look at—I ran from them and to be perfectly honest, I ran so hard that I could even be bold enough to say that I am fortunate and very grateful to be alive.
These situations to me bear no difference.
I told myself that I was protecting myself, my energy, emotions and my state of being by avoiding the media and anything that seemed “negative” to me.
We can eventually come to the realization that running from the darkness in ourselves is not the best way to proceed, but why then do we still run from the darkness in our world?
A lot of spiritual and self-help teachers and writers speak about loving your darkness, as we are part dark and part light—and so is this world in which we live.
When we choose to accept ourselves for what we are, this does not mean, though, that we are complacent to those areas. We still make changes and take advantage of opportunities for growth, but this stems from a place of awareness and the energy is different when we first see and accept it with grace and understanding.
Loving ourselves, fully, does not mean that we run from any parts of ourselves.
In the same way, loving each other and this world does not mean that we run from it either.
The darkness in the world—the wars, the starvation, genocide even, these situations can benefit from our awareness in the same way that those darker parts of ourselves can, but along with everything else, the manner in which we choose to perceive this makes all of the difference.
If I am looking at an area of myself that is rather dark, I could, of course, judge it. I could feel fear and shame over what I am seeing. This is what I did for a number of years—it is like a default for a lot of us.
When we are at war with each other, it is the fear and the judgment that feeds the fury, just as it does when we are at war with ourselves.
And so, we can never begin to address what is happening around ourselves if we cannot address what is happening within ourselves.
When we can see that most of the struggles in our world are ultimately a result of fear, it is a lot easier to feel both empathy and compassion to each other. Even if the actions are unbelievably horrific.
The misuse of power stems from fear—that fear of losing it, or not being enough without it.
All of the darkness in our world can somehow be traced back to anger, defensiveness, jealousy, and hatred, which all stems back to fear.
Being afraid of the fear that is all around us just contributes to more fear, no?
So, it starts within us. It really does.
It starts with some stillness, and this stillness can even exist within us even amidst the chaos and the darkness of the world, and it is in these moments of stillness that we can best see things for what they are.
If you are taking a photo of something and you are moving, chances are that that image will end up somewhat blurred. When we want the most crisp, accurate image of something, we typically stop to take the photo, and this rings true most of the time for our perceptions of our world as well as ourselves.
Seeing things for what they really are first requires stillness.
We maybe cannot have a direct effect on all of the problems that are happening around us, but we can still make a difference, and that difference starts with our perceptions.
We find that stillness and we can choose to send some love and light into that darkness by not contributing to the collective fear by being afraid of it.
I believe that even if we are not directly involved in these situations, that even our perceptions of them can be seedlings for change in this world.
We see it for what it is.
We accept it, first and foremost—just as before we can make any changes within ourselves, we must accept ourselves.
Again, this does not mean though that we remain without action.
Acceptance does not mean complacency, but rather it is the soil that can breed a different type of thought. These thoughts, when led by our discernment and intuition, can lead to the purest of actions that stem from compassion, empathy, love, and everything else that acts as a light into that darkness.
Acceptance and stillness enables us to respond, rather than react.
When it comes to all of our battles and struggles in this world, both internal and external, it is that light that will ultimately lead us to peace.
Author: Katie Vessel
Editor: Travis May