But let’s explore the falling part, as it usually carries the most pain.
Falling is a very interesting experience. And a most uncomfortable one for most of us.
It can be exciting if you are on one of those rides at a theme park where you suddenly drop what seems like a mile. It’s a dramatic way of feeling alive!
There are many kinds of falls—physical, emotional, mental and financial. We can fall off our perch or fall into a slump.
Our reputation can plummet.
Good friends may fall away from us.
Loved ones leave us.
But in this world we can be sure of one thing: there will be a fall. And not just one.
These words are found in Dante’s Inferno:
Midway in the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood.
Yes, there are times when it seems we have lost our way. We aren’t even sure who we are anymore—or where we are.
By living through these dark times, we find it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning of something new and desirable. That’s why Dante name his epic poem The Divine Comedy.
Gradually we learn to engage with life just the way it comes to us—whether it seems a loss or a gain. This is the way it is for me, for now.
By living through the dark times we discover there are no bottomless pits. No matter how far we fall there is always a bottom. We’ll know it when we land.
The dark night is really a place of initiation. It is here that new skills and greater wisdom are born.
An initiate must be taught. We are learning to see in a new way.
Some helpful steps through disappointment and loss are:
First step: Slow down and wait. This decreases panic.
It is while we are in these dark woods that our choices are extremely important. Doing what nourishes even when we don’t want to is vital. This builds spiritual muscles.
It is by persevering with mindfulness practices long after the warm fuzzy feelings are gone that we discover loss turns into gain.
Second step: Continue our meditation practice—or begin one. Write daily in our journal, find a counselor, or therapist. Take walks in nature. Eat foods that nourish.
In these times it is wise to become even more diligent in our spiritual practice, for it is in these dark places that new seeds grow.
Seeds must be planted deep in the earth where there is no light to develop, to free themselves from the husks that had protected them.
Faith grows in the darkness and blossoms in the light.
Faith grows during the times when we have lost all reason to believe.
Third step: Share as much kindness as possible to ourselves and others. Bring kindness to each emotion and to each thought.
Each small choice of kindness will sustain us until we can see a small path—a slender thread—one that leads us out of the pain, confusion and darkness.
We may not have the wide range of choice that we imagined we had, for in this human form we are always pressing against physical boundaries and limitations, but there is always a path through the dark woods of the mind.
There is deliverance. It doesn’t come through magic or wishful thinking.
It comes through wise, persistent effort
We gradually learn to become the “Guest House” that Rumi speaks of. We allow each emotion to be heard. We listen but we do not act on any emotion that will hurt or cause damage to anyone, ourselves included!
Our emotions are connected to our views. By listening to them, letting them speak in our journal or sharing them with a therapist we can begin to see what our core beliefs are. Some are not helpful. This is a time of discernment.
It is wise to find out what each belief and habit serves. Is it kindness or unkindness? Is it selfishness? Are we seeking ways of looking good? Have fear and greed directed our steps?
Spirit has led us into this dark period so that we can slow down and become aware of the habits that have been running our lives.
We find the path through the darkness by noting the many ways in which we have been frightened, in which we have blamed life.
We gradually mature. We learn to accept that what is, rather than argue and fight against it.
By repeating the phrase, “This is the way it is for me, for now,” we begin the slow process of acceptance.
We are acknowledging that we can’t change what is.
What is changes on its own—and is already changing.
And through it all there is something that holds us safely in its hands. This is our True Essence, which is invisible and intangible.
This is our reality!
Our True Essence lives within us right now has the flexibility to change and adjust. Our true nature—the pure and radiant mind—will always seek the path forward.
One day we look out and find life continues on. The sun shines again—even when we least expect it.