To find the light at the end of the tunnel, we must inhabit the darkness with complete faith that respite is ahead.
The tunnel is our life's journey, filled with darkness at times. In such moments it's natural to look for a way out, yet we must trust that a turning point awaits us around the corner.
The darkness can be terrifying when we're stuck, unable to navigate our way ahead. It represents an inner struggle and in those moments of despair we are helpless. Although, these are erroneous thoughts that pull us deeper into this darkened state.
Trapped in a grim shadow of darkness can be unrelenting, given the cycle of suffering offers no respite. Yet, this is an illusion since we lose our place to the upheaval that surrounds us.
However unwelcoming our circumstances, we needn't suffer alone. To have others accompany us reaffirms our faith in someone to lean on when it matters. This simple act of renewal strengthens our resolve because two souls walking into battle are soldiers in arms.
I am drawn to the passage in the song Let It Be by the Beatles, "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me, shine on until tomorrow, let it be."
The light that shines on us is the contrast of light and dark, merged in the sea of duality. For instance, the cycle of darkness in the evening gives rise to the light at dawn. Within this system, life reassures us nothing is permanent, every experience endures its rebirth.
We are never stranded, however inhospitable the circumstances. How we internalise what unfolds, shapes our destiny.
When ensnared in darkness we have two choices: draw our attention to the fear or direct our focus towards the light. By doing so we renew our faith and relief is at hand.
Occasionally, there's little we can do to usher a change in conditions. At other times however, we are forced to wrestle with the ruins of despair. In those moments, we appreciate how the darkness cannot extinguish the light of our eternal being.
"Impermanence is the goodness of reality. Just as the four seasons are in continual flux, winter changing to spring to summer to autumn; just as day becomes night, light becoming dark becoming light again-in the same way, everything is constantly evolving. Impermanence is the essence of everything," avows the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron.
The darkness cultivates strength of character, just as light illuminates the murkiness of night.
We can experience frailty in those dark moments, unable to make sense of our situation. Yet through the darkness, we surrender to the forces of life knowing we have little control after all.
It was Winston Churchill who said, "If you're going through hell, keep going."
We must advance through obscurity if we wish to realise the lessons contained within our experience. To retreat is to lose sight of the personal growth life seeks to instil in us. Otherwise, we will revisit the lessons in different forms until we experience them fully.
Pema Chodron affirms once more, "We always want to get rid of misery rather than see how it works together with joy. The point isn't to cultivate one thing as opposed to another, but to relate properly to where we are."
Many suffer forms of mental illness and lose hope of a way out. In uncertainty, one must take each day as it comes. This practice alone draws our attention to the present moment since that is all we have.
We gain wisdom in our darkest hour, knowing our eternal soul cannot be overshadowed. Focus on the smallest progress in moments of despair, instead of looking to a tomorrow which may not arrive as you hope for. Nothing is certain, apart from this moment.
Therefore, instead of surge towards the light, the smallest act forward renews our faith that light is at the end of the tunnel.
Contained within these marginal gains lies our yesterdays which give rise to a new tomorrow.
Carl Jung said, "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being."
So, how does one stay composed when ensnared in darkness?
Have faith - nothing lasts forever.
I am drawn to an old Hungarian proverb that reads, "Life is like licking honey - licking honey off a thorn."
Even time is an illusion when immersed in the menacing darkness of a harsh reality. While in the midst of a tornado, sixty seconds is an eternity, and so with moments of despair.
Consider what the experience teaches you. If looking down on your life's journey from above, what adjustments would you make going forward?
When trapped in your circumstances, look for the slightest respite in those untenable moments.
"The paradox is that going further into despair is what grants access to hope, going fully into pain grants access to healing, going fully into the dark opens to the light. An unconditionally embraced predicament becomes a threshold to what comes next," states author and psychotherapist David Richo.
The darkness invites us to practice self compassion and nurture equanimity. We are called to exercise our noblest truths that lie at the heart of our being.
Equally, to lean on others during times of suffering summons our capacity to trust we needn't go through hardship alone. There is always someone by our side to help us reclaim our strength.
To find the light at the end of the tunnel, advance through the darkness knowing your compassioned hope for change lies around the corner.
"We are all heat-seeking missiles in search of comfort and pleasure, and we mightily resist any discomfort," affirms author Mary O'Malley in her book What's in the Way Is the Way: A Practical Guide for Waking Up to Life.
I invite you not to frown upon your misery, yet embrace it as a doorway to inner transformation.