Have you done this? Tried anything to quickly relieve the stress, sadness, pain, pressure, <insert trouble here>? Are you ready for the badass way to master sadness, distress, depression, and anxiety?
Drugs, therapy, meditation, emotional intelligence, plant medicine, religion, mindfulness <insert intervention here> – anything for a few moments of relief or even joy?
Then, only a short time later when the fix wears off, or the guided meditation ends, or you wake up the next morning, there you are again, face to face with whatever the issue was in the first place.
And the cycle repeats, doesn’t it? Major chunks of the worldwide economy feed this spin cycle, and we’re supposed to believe that when they do well, we do well.
Except when we aren’t.
While I was on “black box anti-depressants” I was supposed to work on the stuff that was depressing me. I eventually stopped the meds and honestly faced suicidal ideation. Still breathing now, yes, but that particular shadow journey was awful. And terrifying. And necessary.
How did I cope? What did I do? Did I meditate? Pray? Get high? Exercise mindfulness or emotional intelligence or some other kind of intervention? I had skills, yes, but in that place of overwhelming darkness, none of that mattered. All I could do was sit there and allow myself to let go.
But I did one additional, almost desperate thing. Instead of a rope or a gun, I used headphones. One song. On repeat. The darkest of my chosen dark music, in my ears, my head, my heart, for hours. With the courage I had, I made myself sit there and face my darkness…46 years of it, by that time.
I’m convinced that facing the darkness fully is what we miss when we intervene. There is no quick fix, belief system, or therapy that works as well as this essential gift we human beings have: facing our darkness.
With time, maybe we’ll discover better ways to face the darkness fully, but for now, let’s just sample what we’ve got by not facing darkness effectively:
If we don’t fully face the darkness of hatred, it manifests as racism and sexism
If we don’t fully face the darkness of greed, it manifests as income inequity;
If we don’t fully face the darkness of fear and ignorance, well…do your own research!
So why do we continue to self-medicate or self-hypnotize around issues with side effects like distress, depression, anxiety, and suicide? Is one moment of clarity, even repeated regularly, enough to actually fix years of false hopes? Is denying that the issues really exist enough to resolve them? Are we so addicted to mainlining burnout that we can’t quit?
Facing the darkness isn’t popular because it’s hard work. And life is hard enough without adding more hard work. Honestly, facing the darkness is:
A) the hardest work you will ever do
B) the most necessary work you will ever do.
Even though the great religions of the world embrace it, facing the darkness is a hard sell. Feel-good religion raises more money, right? But what have feel-good religion and positive mind control gotten us?
According to thousands of years of religious and “wisdom” literature, facing the darkness is necessary, and yet we still try to game the issue with emotional intelligence or mindset.
Even though the real purpose of whole plant medicine is to face the darkness, after one trip we think we’ve done that but then we pick right up to doing and thinking what we did and thought before the trip, believing we’ve changed in some fundamental way when we haven’t.
People! So many of us are self-hypnotized to not see things clearly. So many of us have decided that it’s better to leave others behind. After all, we’re the light-workers or star seeds or Indigo kids or some other chosen people who somehow don’t have responsibility for the rest of humankind. That’s not making it better.
If you feel pretty good and your brother or sister does not, what is it about your belief system that allows you to think that’s OK? Either we are all in this together or we’re not, and the last few hundred years of civilization ought to remind us of what happens when we choose selfishness over the good of everyone.
So let’s get down to it. What really matters. What can really change stuff for good? What is that? All together now: facing the darkness. Luke and Vader. Demonslayer. Pick any great novel or play, from Shakespeare right up through The Sand Sea and you’ll find the main characters facing their darkness. From Jesus Christ spending 40 days with the devil to Siddhartha under the bodhi tree, facing the darkness is the way.
Facing the darkness, it turns out, is the whole point.
While this isn’t news, it’s a hard practice. Some people do it. Fewer people do it regularly. And you know what? It is survivable. And transformative. My night in the chair with dark music was a turning point in my life.
Since then, I do this shadow practice regularly. I don’t always do it from a place of suicidal ideation…but sometimes I do. Whatever it takes, doing this practice is better than letting myself get buried under a ton of interventions and false hopes and all the unresolved darkness that accumulates from coping skills that don’t really change anything.
One more thing: this isn’t a practice of sitting still with an empty mind. Although my physical body was still, I was mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in the fight of my life. And I highly recommend this fight for anyone who’s tapped out on complementary or alternative modalities. It’s survivable, powerful, and the most life-affirming thing I’ve ever done, which is also why I do it regularly.
Take whatever weapons you want into your darkness, but I want to offer you one more master tool that won’t fail you there: music. It’s safe, powerful, and, with a little skill and practice, music is the boost that makes facing your darkness a triumphant journey. Every time.
Want to know more? If you’re ready, the slim-fit version of music care is the Music Quest Discovery. The deeper dive is The Musimorphic Quest. The good news is that music naturally connects the vibrational human being part of us with the consciousness or spirituality that is also us, and you’ll want both your humanity and your consciousness/spirituality to master facing the darkness.
Are you satisfied with the results you have? Great! If not, you’ve got a new idea now. A new possibility. New potential. Scared? Good: you ought to be. But fear is a powerful motivator and physiologically almost the same as love, so how will you use your fear? To fortify yourself against more hatred, greed, and ignorance, or to break through to love?
The choice is yours. If you’re brave enough, let’s do this. Together. Connect now.
The Badass Way to Master Sadness, Distress, Depression, and Anxiety