It might seem odd, even contradictory that I of all people would send out an invite to come ‘down’? Of course this is assuming we define down as that which is opposite to up, dark as opposed to light, heavy as opposed to light, discomforting as opposed to content and maybe depressing as opposed to joyous and creative? And assuming that ‘up’ does not mean adrenaline-charged highs or drug-sustained stupors (lows) but rather deep fulfillment about being here in this experience? Then yes, that is in fact, how I am content to define it for the purposes of today’s writing. Because there is more than meets the eye, to these definitions and, as a favourite manager would reiterate often:
It’s all about context Johnny
So if we take these ‘down’ definitions and put them into a less isolated context what then happens? The concepts of holistic viewing or approaches has shown benefit to living over and over without question. And in areas such as self-care, various types of exercising, study programs and learning, life work balance – the big picture as it were. And so this is no different. In a world premised by paradox – duality – everything does and must have its opposite just to exist. Along with that comes an infinite number of you guessed it, shades of grey (more than fifty!). Now we can continue because expectantly, we will think differently now about this idea and topic. Bluntly stated:
without down, there can be no up
So, we need the downs? Yep. But of course, it’s not that simple is it? And it’s not so obvious either. When we work with energy both around us and within us, it never is. For example if we say well, “I have had one ‘up’ recently which was 8 on the proverbial 10 part scale, that “obviously” means I need a ‘down’ of equal measure otherwise I will not be a balanced individual right?” No, that’s too simple and without any lateral thinking involved. Paper-based at best. But it is none-the-less, in the ball park.
Primarily, the same considerations are at the forefront however, with less rigidity. Let me explain through some dot points before we open up the discussion.
- Living a ‘high’ life needs ‘lows’ to be balanced and sustainable
- While ‘downs’ are by nature, heavier and less joyous, they bring opportunity to live richer
- The ‘ups’ are easy to experience – they are the ‘fruits’ of our labors
- The ‘downs’ are instead, where we get to study, learn, work and grow
- Neither ups nor downs are good or bad – rigid thinking does not apply
- Both ups and downs are necessary to a fulfilling human experience
We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars
Irrespective of the respect I hold for you, the reader, and whatever way you may choose to spend and experience your own ups and downs in this life, let us concentrate instead, on how we might manage, understand, and grow from the heavier weight of the darker downs when they occur and if we so choose. Because not only, do downs offer us unrepeatable opportunity to grow as people, they offer us unrepeatable opportunities to improve the ups too! And by improvement I mean both joy and frequency.
This is where the math tends to leave our limited thinking. When life is lived ‘in flow’ and therefore, mostly within an experience of attracting high energy and joyous experience, the need for intense and heavy lessons become less frequent. It doesn’t mean that we no longer need the ‘dark side’ to balance us, it means that over time we are learning from the dark, embracing it as part of us, assimilating it’s strength, and living as a whole person at the other end of the spectrum. It is a little like visiting the dark spaces willingly and without fear, accepting the truths of the lessons, then taking it back with us when we return to the highs – this time as a more whole and balanced person.
It doesn’t come easily, it takes time, it takes practice. But over that time and with said practice, we can improve our understanding and openness to the opportunities which exist in the darker realms – we can increase our experience of joyous highs. Here is a series of questions which, again over time, will help raise your awareness so that when down times come, you will be more inclined to go about your explorations deliberately rather than automatically. This way we can become less attached to sensing loss of the up (when we are down) and the proverbial ‘failing’ to meet socially accepted norms – happiness all the time.
- For what reason have I attracted this energy to me now?
- What is going on around me that needs to desist or decrease?
- What is my now plan for quiet periods to think and write, for quality nutrition, for walking, sleeping?
- Do I need to talk with trusted people and who will I call and when?
- Is this serious enough (dark/intense) to warrant a change in environment (break/holiday) to increase my clarity?
- Are there other resources (books/sites/people) I can use to improve my rate of understanding?
- In what way will I celebrate when I come ‘through’ this part of the journey?
Asking ourselves these questions first and foremost at the onset of such falling sensations – beginning downward, forces us to impart our mind with the most important idea of all:
Down and Dark is a necessary and opportunistic place to be, if we allow it
Here is a paragraph from an article I wrote in 2014 titles THE CARERS’ IRONY (actually purged from a self-care article I originally wrote for what causes mental illness dot com years earlier.:
“There’s an unwritten beauty in this thing we call self-care. We get to switch it on or off, up or down, according to our own expectations, emotional stability, motivation to do so, and physical health at any given time. Unlike many things in life, it is completely under our control. While this means ironically, that most people make poor choices looking after themselves, it is still empowering to know the consequences are ours to own. Personally, when I become concerned about potential fall-out from the weight of life’s challenges upon me, I increase my exercise, increase my meditation, increase my journaling regularity, sleep more, and I increase my intake of quality water and quality food, all in advance. Eloquently, this is congruent with the Zen adage to ‘bend like the willow not resist like the oak’ (in flow)”.
To think life is always up or that the proverbial picket fence never needs painting is indoctrination, nothing more. Magazines and media ad infinitum, combine to push us in certain directions which support greed, control, fear, and particular economic direction . But who can blame the bean counters after all, it’s what they do. But for you and I, we who want to experience the richness of a full life away and beyond tick box pragmatics, false smiles, and pretend food, there is so much more on offer. And it’s available to us all. As soon as we accept that life’s dark is necessary and beneficial, that the quality of life’s light is instead, a consequence of our forays into that dark and, that a rich life includes all shades, not just the popular colours of red, green, and blue, we too will begin to feel increased well-being, happiness, and content. We too, will openly and gladly say yes to:
AN INVITATION DOWN