into the darkness

From Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna by China Galland:

To say that one is ‘longing for darkness’ is to say that one longs for transformation, for a darkness that brings balance, wholeness, integration, wisdom, insight…

As I have already briefly mentioned a few times in the last little while, in June I am heading to a 10 day meditation course at an old Boy Scout camp turn meditation centre North of Toronto.  I know a number of people who have been to this exact course in the past, or similar ones, and here is the overall consensus: it’s not easy, but no one has regretted it.

The 10 days will be spent mostly in meditation with breaks for food, sleep, and lectures on meditation practice and Buddhist philosophy.  It is asked that for the duration of the course I focus completely on the process and on journeying inwards.  This means:

  • no music
  • no books
  • no journal
  • no phone
  • no computers
  • no cameras

That last one is perhaps the one I am most anxious about/most anticipating.  I am pretty sure that I have never gone 10 days without speaking to anyone since I learned to talk, especially not when I am surrounded by, eating with, and sleeping beside people for 10 days who have all agreed to the same vow.  There are older students who attend the courses whom I can speak with should I have any difficulties or questions, but for 99% of the time I am to act like I am alone.  They even ask that you not smile, gesticulate or make intentional eye contact with other students.  We are all there for the same reason…to find the darkness, and that search is a solitary one.

Longing for Darkness is a autobiographical book I read a number of years ago written by a woman who struggled through alcoholism, raising children, and other life demands while researching Tara; a Buddhist goddess.  Tara is by far my favorite deity (pictured above) and without going into details, one fact that I absolutely love about her is that she is always depicted with one foot forward symbolizing her readiness to step into this world to help anyone who asks her for help.   

When I read Galland’s book the above quote describing what it is to ‘long for darkness’ really stuck with me.  The inner darkness is a scary place, I will admit that I often try to distract myself so that I am not forced to go inwards and examine things.  Most often because that means being honest with myself and accepting truths I am not willing to accept.  Well, I certainly can’t hide from it during this retreat.  That is all I have.  Me, myself…and my inner darkness.  Frightening?  Yes.  But also, I hope, deeply enlightening.

I have started a mini training of sorts on my own and have been trying to set aside time to meditate most days, even if it just for a few minutes and let me tell you…it is dang hard!  It really is a practice and it takes time, but the benefits of simple mindfulness are pretty extraordinary.

I am not really sure what is going to happen during this retreat.  I know that there is a distinct possibility all sorts of past issues of mine are going to float to the surface and it is not uncommon for people to find at least a few of the days to be very psychologically and emotionally difficult.  I am prepared for that.  And although I am apprehensive there is a part of me that can’t f*ing wait to get away from it all and just be with myself!  I am very interested to see where my thoughts take me once they are no longer preoccupied with the everyday “busyness” we all experience daily.  And I am also extremely excited to just be restful.  I feel like I am going to come back with a full battery and actually fell rested, at least I hope I do.  I have a hard time relaxing, “just sitting there”, in the real world so this will force me to do only that in the physical sense, and on many levels in the psychological sense as well.

I embark on June 6, which happens to be exactly two weeks following my 30th birthday – perhaps this will be the best present I could possibly have given myself as I enter into a new chapter of my life. I really wouldn’t mind if that is the case.  Not one bit.


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