befriending darkness


As a result of the recent massacre in Orlando where people in the LGBTQ community were targeted, killed, and wounded, I find myself emotionally shaken and doing a lot of self-reflection. I feel my heart wanting to close because of this tragedy and the “unfairness” of life. I want peace in the world but first I know that I must have peace within myself. I must continue to work with darker emotions that come up within myself before addressing the darkness in the world.

In the past when I have felt overwhelmed by emotions like hatred, shame, and anger, I have worked in my meditation practice to identify the emotions by name and practice each day sitting with them and accepting them like any other emotion knowing that eventually they would pass. I feel like I have to return back to this work of acceptance, compassion, and holding a loving space. I hope that everyone can find whatever technique or activity brings them some peace in this overwhelming time. I wonder if the shooter had been able to sit with his feelings of hatred and disgust of himself as well as the LGBTQ community, if we could have had a completely different outcome.

I have immense compassion for the victims, their loved ones, and members of the LGBTQ community who face so many discriminations and who as a whole have such a high risk for suicide, substance use, and mental health problems. I too find myself thinking how unjust it is for certain expressions of love to not be accepted by parts of society. I find compassion for the victims of the massacre but I also find compassion for the shooter. I feel uncomfortable, like I’m being disloyal to the victims, in finding compassion for someone who hurt so many people, but I feel like my compassion is not complete if I judge others when I have darkness within myself as well at times.

We are all connected. We are all suffering. These acts are the manifestation of this suffering. I want us as a society to be better able to cope with suffering. In my work as a nurse practitioner, I meet many who want a medication to just take away all of the pain. They want utter and complete numbness. Numbness is only a very temporary and futile solution requiring greater and greater quantities of medications. We have to feel the uncomfortable feelings in order to be able to release them and become free from them.

I wish that there was some way that I could take the pain pouring out into the universe and hold it in my practice, support it, acknowledge it and feel it lessen wrapped in my arms so that others could suffer less. For now though, I take my own pain, hatred, anger, and judgments and hold them. I forgive myself for those times where I did unkind things and acted out of hatred or anger. I make a conscious choice to express and release my anger healthily. I see myself in the person I hate. I embody peace. I choose love. I send love to all of those who are suffering throughout the world. I do this work everyday. Each time I am able to sit with my own darkness and befriend it, my capacity to love and find compassion for  myself and in turn others grow.

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