In Darkness, May Light Renew You


Having been in practice for nearly 16 years now, I have noticed trends both inside people’s bodies and in their day to day living. The most alarming being, how uncomfortable we have grown with stillness and presence – with ourselves and each other. As someone who knows this duality well – how little I could tolerate being alone with myself and as I’ve healed, how much I miss myself when I struggle to prioritize that alone time – trust me when I say, I get it. We don’t stay away from ourselves or others without incredibly sound and wise reasons. So, with April’s theme being renewal, let’s talk about what it means to “come home, stay home and love home” to ourselves and each other.

Survival can be a tricky lover as it provides you with life saving skills that spring forth in an arid environment. But what happens when the environment changes and the skills you have no longer serve the terrain? And how do you reconcile mal-behaviors in which you had little choice and now suddenly you do? How do we come home to ourselves and find some peace in our heads, hearts and spirits? 

An over simplified answer being, one drop in at a time.

With all of this new found time many of us have on our hands, while our pool of distractions suddenly diminished, it can feel overwhelming to be faced with ourselves in such a seemingly brutal way. As Bessel Van Der Kolk has coined, ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ and for those of us who know, this score can feel insurmountable. But just like a goal, no matter the size, if you take your time and create a plan, you can, metaphorically, eat the elephant, one bite at a time.

Something that I uncovered in myself that made it exquisitely difficult to be still with myself was a strong critical mind – and not in the healthy sense. Oftentimes, when I’d stop and get still to connect with myself, much of what I’d uncover was really difficult to see or feel and instead of proceeding forth with self-compassion and a commitment to better understand myself, I got stuck in self condemnation and unhealthy shame. Without being able to embrace all parts of me and proceed with a spirit of discovery, I was stuck in a cycle pushing me away from myself, diminishing peace and increasing distraction. 

Coming from trauma and wanting to better understand it’s effects, as I studied it, I came across an article that shared a startling percentage. 

“Some 70% of assualtants were once assaulted.” 

Something about the way this article presented its information coupled with where I happened to be in my own healing journey made my whole inner world come to a screeching halt. It wasn’t that this idea hadn’t risen before, more, I was actually ready to hear it. Up to this point it was perfectly acceptable to hate my assaultant, to dehumanize him. But suddenly, all I could see was his inner child crying out for help, just as mine was. What if something did happen to him and he never received what he needed? Suddenly, the monster became a human again. And with that came a gushing of tears for us both. It was the first time I really became acquainted with the essence of forgiveness. My tears didn’t indicate I was OK with what he did to me, BUT it was a new space created within, leaving room to better understand another human. 


One of my favorite quotes is offered by Rumi from a poem called, “A Great Wagon”:

(For the whole Poem:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”


So, from this new found space, I was more able to meet myself, drop in and really get to know me. And better, the more I connected to myself in this way, the more my body began to trust me to be kind and loving with it, sharing more and more each time I’d drop in. The suitcase that I could barely drag, let alone lift was unpacking bit by bit and where I used to dread dropping in to be with myself for fear of what I’d see, I now welcome with a much kinder embrace. 

Coincidentally, with a kinder embrace, it was much easier to find new terms and behaviors if needed because the solution is found within the pain if I could but tolerate it to stay long enough.

To reference the author from my previous blogs, “Karla McLaren” I share with you, “Building your Raft” –  5 Empathetic Skills to help you navigate presence. These 5 skills, when utilized together, can help you prepare for what emotions, sensations and dialogue is to come with presence instead of wading in only to be wiped out by a tidal wave.

To close, life is too precious a gift – YOU are too precious a gift – to live and enjoy anything less than wholeness. So, it is my hope that, if you have a suitcase that needs unpacking, tend to its content with care, respecting your limits as you go, and where there might be darkness now, may light renew you <3



The Five Empathic Skills


Karla developed the Five Empathic Skills to help you integrate each of your elements and

prepare to welcome all of your emotions into your life in healthy ways. 


1.Getting Grounded

Getting grounded is a way to create physical stability, comfort, and a sense of being centered

in your body. Grounding relies on the soft and subtle forms of healthy sadness and fear; the

sadness helps you let go of things you don’t need any more, and the fear helps you access your

instincts and intuition and focus your attention on the present moment. Grounding is very

stabilizing, but it can feel unusual, because it’s basically the opposite of the distraction and

avoidance behaviors most of us have been taught:

“Centering our attention in our bodies in the present moment is uncommon in our culture

because so many modern people make distinct separations between the physical (or

profane) world and the spiritual (or divine) realm… When you have proper grounded

focus, you can direct flows in each of your elements, and you can learn to navigate those

flows rather than being pushed around. When you can navigate, you won’t need to

distract yourself or avoid your emotions, because you’ll be able to focus your attention



  1. Defining Your Boundaries

Boundary definition is a job for healthy anger, but since we rarely see healthy anger in action,

many of us have no idea how to set and define healthy and effective boundaries for ourselves:

“Our culture supports distraction and dissociation at every possible turn; therefore,

remaining centered and integrated can be rather difficult. In order to stay focused and

grounded, you’ll need protection and definition; you’ll need a sacred place where you can

work without interference, and you’ll need a strong and flexible boundary around



  1. Burning Contracts

Burning Contracts is a wonderful exercise in emotional channeling:

“The skill of burning contracts brings together each of the skills you’ve learned so far and

invites all of your elements into an active and focused healing that frees your soul from

bondage…. The empathic practice of burning contracts supports your equilibrium by

allowing you to separate yourself from behaviors and attitudes that destabilize you” 


  1. Conscious Complaining

Bringing consciousness to your complaining is a fun emotional channeling practice. An added

bonus is that it’s very easy! Complaining consciously is a healthy way to become aware of,

express, and release what’s going on inside of you – in safety and privacy:

“Conscious complaining is especially helpful in a life of striving, good works, and personal

growth, where complaining is often considered less than saintly (this is a shame, because

all by itself, a lack of permission to complain can cause unresolving repetitive mood states

like worry, depression, and apathy)…. Conscious complaining gives a voice to your

struggles, and in so doing, it restores your flow, your energy, your sense of humor, and

your hope”.


  1. Rejuvenating Yourself

As you work to balance your elements and engage with your emotions empathically, it’s

important to have a practice for rejuvenating yourself. This practice helps you soothe

yourself, take some quiet time to integrate the changes you’re making, and move forward


“…it’s important to rejuvenate yourself so that old behaviors won’t be able to reanimate

themselves. When you clear a space in your psyche with contract burning, it’s important

to refill yourself consciously. If you don’t consciously refill that empty space, it will be

filled unconsciously, and you don’t want that!” 


Gabrielle Warner

Massage and Trauma Touch Therapist

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