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Living the question in your body and the power of luminous darkness

I spent much of 2023 in a dark cave of uncertainty. I will call it my cave year.


During this time, I lived some of my life’s biggest questions in my body (e.g. shall I speak up at work about something, shall I quit my job, shall I move out of my family home, shall I move area completely, what job do I want, how many jobs can/should I juggle, how much money do I need, how will I earn that money, shall I stay married).


I gave my body the time and space it needed to know what to do. I kept repeatedly writing in my journal – live the question in my body – which I did.


But living the question in my body was hard. To not know. To allow myself to be uncertain. So very hard. I was dreadfully unsure, which felt quite alien to me, as I am generally a decisive person. A strange and uncomfortable and terrifying liminal space. Also hugely grief inducing as I started to realise how my identity was so interwoven and attached to my status-quo life. I’ve never cried so much in my life. And to be so unsure about the entire framework of my life was also, frankly, deeply irritating from a practical perspective. 


During this cave year, I often had some trouble having an unbroken night’s sleep. Having boasted about being a brilliant sleeper all my life, this was quite a shock (hat’s off to all the sleep deprived parents out there).


I noticed that my anxiety increased during the night, especially at around 3am.


What seemed like manageable stress (just) during the day turned into catastrophic thoughts during the night. One night I woke up hysterically crying and saying ‘I can’t do it’ over and over. Luckily, my sister was there and held my pain tenderly saying simple things like ‘it’s okay to feel scared’.


I have just discovered that other people have 3am night terrors!! Katherine May calls it the ‘terrible threes’. She describes it as ‘the familiar horsemen of those quiet apocalypses that only happen when the sun’s gone down’.


I found that my ‘terrible threes’ consisted of a lot of base chakra shadow energy (worrying about money, security, home, survival) and heart chakra shadow energy (guilt, shame, fear).


I have now found the answer to those big life questions, as they emerged slowly from my body (thank you body). I have taken some courageous decisions. I have crawled out of my cave back into the beautiful bright light. But looking back at this experience now, I am not surprised at all about the ‘terrible threes’.


Why? Because the truth lurks in the darkness.


When you haven’t made some really difficult decisions yet, but you know you need to at some point, the darkness will hold you to account.


And the darkness, oh my, she is an uncompromising truth master.


Even the word ‘darkness’ has been equated to something bad, but it’s not bad. It is a natural part of life’s experience. You can’t have light without the dark. The darkness may be uncomfortable, yes, especially if you are hiding from truth because it is convenient for you.


We are obsessed in our society with making sure we are the-most-comfortable-we-can-possibly-be, but there is nothing wrong with feeling uncomfortable. Feeling uncomfortable is actually where the break-throughs happen. Where the gold, the insights, the revelations bubble up to the surface.


The dark sky is the moon’s favourite place (the moon being the cosmic embodiment of the divine feminine). The yin / feminine energy is very intimate with darkness. She isn’t scared of the darkness. She bathes in its beauty, mystery, and divinity. She knows she needs to dwell in her darkness (new moon) in order to shine her brightest (full moon).


You see darkness can be very illuminating. ‘Luminous darkness’ as one of my teachers Colin Campbell calls it.


Luminous darkness, my loves.


Katherine May describes turning insomnia into a ‘watch’ which is a ‘claimed sacred space in which [we] have nothing to do but contemplate’.


So if you are lying awake in the dark with a dose of the night terrors, try this…


·      Give the weight of your body to the bed – the whole weight

·      Allow your eyes to close (which is different to shutting your eyes)

·      Don’t fight – just surrender

·      Allow the body to digest the difficult yuk hard stuff

·      Let yourself to be enveloped by the luminous darkness

·      Notice / watch / allow / accept

It is in the darkness that the treasure of truth will reveal itself.

The darkness will bring you into a truer light.


Darkness is like one of those friends or relatives that is brutally honest, and although deeply uncomfortable at times, she is ultimately helpful and beautiful and has our soul’s best interests at heart.


But unlike a friend or relative, darkness is totally unavoidable in human existence, so we may as well make peace with her as our uncompromising, loyal and truthful companion.


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