For thousands and thousands of years, human beings have been honoring the Solstice. We have built many monuments all over the earth to honor this return of the light, one of the most fascinating examples being Stonehenge in England. Winter Solstice is a time when the days start getting longer and the nights shorter. Although most people celebrate the return of the light, I am inviting you to also honor the darkness that has come into your life this past year.
Life will always ebb and flow around darkness and light, and one of the greatest ways we struggle is to reject the dark. In other words, we go to war with Life, trying to make it be what we think it should be and that is suffering. But discovering how to show up for all of Life brings you the joy of being fully alive. My life is a good example of that. This year has been deeply painful and yet beautiful at the same time, including walking alongside my son on his cancer journey, supporting my daughter who has also had some serious medical issues, and then dealing with my own health issues. And to top it all off, besides working full-time, I spent many months working with my publisher, Sounds True, on the new version of my book, What’s In the Way Is the Way. It has been a fierce process and yet I have become more grounded and more spacious than ever before because of it. In other words, there is great beauty in the darkness.
Oftentimes when I was sitting in one hospital or another, my mind would start to slip into struggle. But immediately curiosity and great compassion would arise. I would say something like this to my mind when it was having a hard time watching my children suffer: “I know this is hard for you. This darkness won’t last. Let’s gather the gifts that Life is offering.” I don’t have to stay lost in the stories in my mind because I know that when darkness comes, it comes bearing great gifts. And once the darkness in my life has shown me everything it is here to teach me, the darkness will recede, opening me to an even deeper connection with light.
On the Sunday before the Winter Solstice, our NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks, played. There is great energy in this team and in the fans (whom we call the 12th Man here in our city). I am not a person who can watch football, but lately I feel very connected to this team because of who they are. They are really and truly a conscious football team. They meditate, do yoga, and spend a lot of time outside of football connecting with one another. As you see individual players being interviewed, it is very clear that they are a family and a team that plays with their hearts rather than their heads. Last year, when they lost the Super Bowl game in the last play, it amazed me to watch their process and then see our quarterback, Russell Wilson, and his teammates break down in tears. Now, I ask you, how many NFL football players are willing to open their hearts and shed authentic tears? Not many.
At the beginning of this 2015 season, the Seahawks were really struggling (they only won 2 of their first 6 games). Also, our quarterback was sacked over 30 times in the first 6 games. So why have they been able to turn it around, securing a spot in the playoffs? Their coach, Pete Carroll, says it is because they truly are a team. They play for one another and they play for the joy of playing the game. They also did not get discouraged by their losses. They chose to learn from them in order to become an even better team. What we see in the Seahawks is consciousness showing up in a football team! In an interview with rookie Tyler Lockett, he was being asked about the losses at the beginning of the year and his response was, “There is beauty in the struggle. We have to trust the process!” This statement came out of the mouth of a first year Rookie! Unbelievable! Everyone on this team is becoming their best selves. Why? Because they trust the process and they are all in it together, regardless if they win or lose games.
So, I am inviting you to think about what the darkness has brought you this year and what it is that you would like to honor. One of the core ways to trust the process of Life is to get to know your struggling self (darkness). Even when the darkness takes you into realms of deep sadness, pain and despair, trust the darkness because the deep challenges in your life always bring gifts. And remember what Tyler Lockett said, “There is beauty in the struggle. We have to trust the process!”
Mary O’Malley is an author, counselor and awakening mentor in Kirkland, Washington. In the early 1970’s, a powerful awakening led Mary to begin changing her relationship with her challenges, freeing her from a lifelong struggle with darkness. Mary’s latest book, What’s In the Way Is the Way, provides a revolutionary approach for healing your fears, anxieties, shame, and confusion, so you can live from a place of ease and well-being. www.maryomalley.com