When speaking with a friend who is feeling down, confused, hopeless, or lost, we can quickly become convinced that something is wrong which must urgently be corrected. We feel as if we must do something, anything, to remove them from their experience and replace it with another. To scramble to put them back together, to quickly remind them of all the gifts in their life, how everything will be okay, and to reassure them that things will be better soon.
All the while remaining mistattuned to the surging creativity and integration which may be unfolding in front of our very own eyes.
Of course it is natural to want to help a friend who is in pain. But underneath this genuine wish often lurks our own disavowal of the darkness within, and the impending confrontation with our own unlived lives. If we attune to this underlying groundlessness – with curiosity, with holding, and with a fiery, uncompromising kindness – we may discover a previously abandoned feeling, emotion, symbol, or vision which is longing to make its way into conscious awareness. Stay close. This is no ordinary moment. You are at the threshold.
While it may appear otherwise, this very disturbing material is not a mistake, but is sacred. It is not pathology, but path. It is a long lost friend that we very intelligently split off from at some earlier point in our lives, to ensure our own psychic survival. But the orphaned pieces of psyche and soma are gathering around you, longing for reunion and to resume their place back in the inner family.
Slow down, come back into the center, and remove the burden from your friend to change. Free them from the requirement to take care of your unmetabolized emotional world for you. Recommit to staying embodied to your surging vulnerability, in whatever form it happens to appear. You are in the intelligent, creative, rich terrain of the jewels which are buried in the dark. Stay close.
It is possible the kindest thing you can offer your friend is to sit in the unresolvable complexity and the hopelessness with them, doing whatever you can so that they know you will not abandon them if they do not conform to our cultural fantasy that they be happy, grateful, and full of hope all the time. What they are is vast and contains multitudes.
Trust in the unfolding of their embodied experience and dare to no longer pathologize the appearance of the dark, for within it is a light burning with a billion suns. With the entirety of your presence, make it clear to them that they need not ‘get over it,’ ‘transform,’ ‘heal,’ ‘raise their vibration,’ be happy, or ‘awaken’ in order for you to love them as they are. Stay close.
Love is the totality. It is whole. It is raging and alive in the darkness, shining brightly in ways the mind and the conventional world may never understand. Within the confusion, the sadness, the despair, and the aloneness there is often something very real attempting to break through the dream of partiality, attempting to clarify what is most important and something you may have forgotten. There is a richness here – something is happening – but what that is may never support the consumeristic spell of consistent feelings of happiness, certainty, and a life without vulnerability.
Here, in the very core of your friend’s experience – which is utterly inseparable from your own – everything is alive, everything is path, and everything is holy. The divine is not only the joy and sweetness, but comes at times as Kali to reorder your world. Let us step out of the trance and into the fire with our precious friend, hold hands with him or her and keep them near. We can then turn toward Kali together, create a sanctuary for her wrathful wisdom-essence to unfold in our hearts, and finally see what she has to say.
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