The ancient Druids were said to use sensory deprivation as a means of entering an altered states of consciousness and accessing Awen (inspiration). They entered a dark room and placed a stone on their chest to keep their mind from wandering. Eventually they would enter altered state seeking their vision or inspiration.
Bringing this idea into more current times, in the 1960’s, John Lilly developed flotation tanks as a means of sensory deprivation and studied its effects on consciousness. He found that when deprived of information from the outside world, the mind entered a different state of consciousness and sought information elsewhere – in the Unconscious or the Otherworld.
But in today’s society, we are the opposite of sensory deprived. . . we run on sensory overload! So what about stepping into the darkness and silence to seek inspiration?
So many New Age and magical teachings center around light – to shine our light, heal with light, meditate with it, feel it . . . But, light has another side. It is darkness. One does not exist without the other, but often we tend to ignore the darkness or shun it as a negative. If we only focus on light in our lives, we are like the Energizer Bunny, going non-stop with revved up batteries. We NEED the darkness to grow and create. Remember, seeds don’t germinate in the light – they only sprout in the darkness of Mother Earth’s womb.
The recent lesson in my Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids course states this need for darkness very elegantly, so I will quote:
“The dark has as much healing power as the light. The dark offers the healing of letting go, of not knowing, of being freed from the constant attention, the constant glare of the conscious mind. One of the problems that can arise when we start work on our personal and spiritual development is that we become driven. Self-development becomes another project that we must complete. We forget that we need to give ourselves periods of time when we stop consciously working on ourselves. We have to remind ourselves that a plant won’t grow if we keep on digging it up to find out how the roots are developing. And we can only be fully creative when we allow ourselves times of dormancy after the completion of a project – winter times that follow times of harvest. . . Here the letting go means simply obeying the inner call to let go of the demands of the striving ego. . . It can sometimes simply mean that we can allow ourselves the luxury of stopping our stiving – opening ourselves instead to the inner experience and pleasure of simply being alive.”
I love that. . . the luxury to stop striving and simply enjoy being alive!
I can understand the striving, I have done it myself and seen it among many friends and clients. All of a sudden we want to become “perfect” and we keep digging deeper and deeper, not allowing our “dig sites” to rest or heal.
So, I invite you to give yourself permission to stop and enter the darkness, whether through finding a flotation tank or simply journeying or meditation someplace deep within the Earth, Space or whatever place calls to you. Enter this space and LET GO and empty yourself and make room for the next inspiration, project or growth spurt.
Until Next Time – Enjoy the darkness
Mitakuye Oyasin (A Lakota prayer reminding us we are all related),