Going into the Black Hole to find the Light of Being

Wound by Graham Dean

The most empowering thing I’ve discovered in life was not something ecstatic or “spiritual.” It wasn’t found in feelings of bliss. It was found in the very place I did not want to look and after all other options were seen to be obsolete. There was no place to go but down, down into what I called “the black hole”  that place of despair, of total powerlessness and terror. I realized that my whole life I had been doing whatever I could to avoid contact with this place buried deep within me.

The black hole was what felt like an overwhelming sense of  “badness” and a deep-seated fear that other people would see that I am bad, awful, and repulsive. It was a sense that at my core I was truly awful. The main way that I avoided this place was through appearing to have it all “together” and by striving to always be successful, happy, and good. Even though I had experienced tremendous growth and true happiness and success, there was still this background suspicion of myself that I was really bad and people couldn’t really see it. There was a fear that once they did, they would run the other way.

Where The Darkness Meets The Light by Claudette Dean

There was not a clear sense of what this “badness” was. It was vague and undefined. However, the main emotion connected with it was an overpowering despair, like wanting to die.

Most of my life I wasn’t conscious of this sense of inner “badness” until I started becoming aware of my inner dynamics and patterns. When I did finally become conscious of it, I had already been in therapy for many years and had transformed my life into what I’d always wanted: a beautiful relationship, a great career and an deepening sense of inner safety and trust. Because I had already been on a path of healing for some time and had become attuned to my inner self, the black hole gradually became more acute and in the foreground. It seems that my psyche was eventually strong enough to contain the terror that had been hidden for so long and that my system wanted to release it.

Cocoon by Elis Cooke

The most empowering thing I’ve ever done in my life was to consciously venture into this  feeling of the “black hole of badness” within. With the help of my therapist and other trusted people in my life including my partner, I was witnessed in this feeling of badness and had a major realization–that I am not and never was “bad” as I had feared. I discovered that at the very foundation of my being, I am innocent, complete, free and eternal. I could feel this throughout my entire body. It truly felt like coming Home. The undefined, dreadful feelings of badness did not kill me as I had feared they would if I allowed myself to feel them. Much to my surprise, where I thought I would find “badness” I found only pure goodness.

What felt like blackness was a door to pure light. 

Through the supportive and skilled witnessing of trusted others, I was able to withstand what I feared most and consciously discover my true nature as infinite, inviolate goodness. I had a direct experience of feeling that I am thoroughly innocent, strong, beautiful, and at my core, indestructible.  This experience changed my life irrevocably because as I saw myself as I truly am, my view of life and of others greatly transformed as well.

Bliss by Ali Mc Nab

By consciously observing the sensations and feelings in the black hole, I saw that the feeling of badness that I contacted was actually a flashback from infancy when for whatever reason I felt totally abandoned and completely terrified for my life. It was like a crystallized pocket of suppressed energy that had always been there, festering in my core. By willingly and consciously entering the feelings and sensations of the black hole, I observed that as my little infant self, I thought I was going to die and  internalized the experience to mean that I must be thoroughly bad and worthless. I observed that because I experienced being abandoned, I had willingly abandoned myself, knowing intuitively that I had to do this in order to survive. It was a moment of total despair, hopelessness and a kind of existential depression settling in. It was a moment of painful departure, a splitting within myself. By going back to this dreaded place, I was able to witness the trauma that created the black hole and return to heal the split and reunite with my deepest self.

Facing the truth Print by Vrindavan Das

Looking back, I see how this discovery was the culmination of  an organic process of healing that I had been going through for years–and my entire being was going through a detoxification process from early childhood trauma. This process was natural and not under the purview of my conscious mind. I had little control other than to be simply aware and receptive and trusting to what was unfolding.

Over time as this discovery integrated into my life, I had many insights about how the black hole was also a way of receiving the cumulative generational pain of my family and ancestors. As an infant, I experienced it as a kind of invasion and implantation of pain that was not originally mine, but was being placed in me. Having no choice but to absorb it and metabolize it, it became part of the very fabric of my identity, much like when a splinter becomes absorbed into the skin. Yet, because I had done so much healing, at a certain point my being naturally wanted to expunge the “implant” of pain from my system.

Yoshiro Tachibana

I think we all – to some degree – have a faint unconscious memory of the existential terror of infancy, when we inevitably experienced some form of abandonment or invasion. As infants we were need personified. Because parents/caregivers were human, they made mistakes and we had moments of feeling abandoned or invaded. I have a feeling that the black hole is part of the human experience, holding much suffering that can linger and go unaddressed, greatly limiting our experience of life. Yet, if confronted, holds the key to freedom that opens doors that we didn’t even know were there.

By going into the black hole within, we can discover a light that is indestructible, the light of our true self, that is pure, that is true, innocent, fresh and un-taintable. This is the light of Being.

Constellation by Anna Dittmann

This is not just an intellectual theory–its a direct experience of our own divinity. Once experienced, anything can happen to you and you know that ultimately you cannot be harmed.

My sense is that when we are ready, the psyche repairs itself by re-experiencing the feelings that were overwhelming and suppressed at the time of trauma. Life does this through us as a way of experiencing it’s all-inclusive, indestructible nature.

Aura by Patricia Ariel

Nothing is fully released until it is loved.

Love welcomes and  accepts everything. We can’t truly know this in our bones until we’ve opened to that which scares us and see that even that, yes, even that is loved and embraced by Life.

Everything that is split off or fragmented within us will be eventually called back–to be consciously welcomed into the wholeness that we truly are.

This is because our true nature, our true self ….is Love.

Space of Love by Joyce Huntington

© 2015 Bethany Webster

(Art credits in order of appearance: “Wound” by Graham Dean, “Where The Darkness Meets The Light” by Claudette Dean, “Cocoon” by Elis Cooke, “Bliss” By Ali McNab, “Facing the truth” by Vrindavan Das, Title Unknown by Yoshiro Tachibana, “Constellation” by Anna Dittmann, “Aura” by Patricia Ariel, “Space of Love” by Joyce Huntington)

*This blog article originally appeared on my other blog “Embrace of Being”

Thank you for reading! I Invite you to leave a comment below: Does the concept of the “black hole” resonate with you? What has been your experience of it?  And what has helped you to heal and work with it?

Related article: The Holy Simplicity of Sitting with Our Pain

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Does this article resonate with you?  Sign up here for a free 30-minute “Healing the Mother Wound Clarity Session” with Bethany to learn about her private coaching on healing the mother wound. 

Ways to work with Bethany: 

Click here to download my FREE e-book on “Transforming the Inner Mother” and sign up for my newsletter.

Your Body is A Portal to Truth. Enter and Be Transformed.

Goddess Flidais. Art print by Amanda Clark

I’ve spoken to some folks who glance at the 7-step process of healing the mother wound and say “I already know all this” or “I’ve done these steps already” yet they still have all the painful symptoms of the mother wound. What’s clear is that they may know the concepts on a cognitive level but the process hasn’t actually reached the visceral level of the body.

Transformation isn’t fully real until it takes root in the body.

Cognitive understanding is very important but it isn’t enough to transform us and create lasting, meaningful change. Over the years,  I’ve met folks who have spent decades on a spiritual journey but the process was taken almost entirely in their minds. They may still struggle with basic living skills although they’ve worked with several gurus, read tons of books or even teach their own workshops! This is not surprising as we live in a culture that tells us that we can gobble up concepts and that we should have a transformation.

Concepts are like seeds of transformation, that when dropped into the body can take root and begin to transform us on the deepest levels. 

When we gobble concepts it is a superficial action. What creates lasting transformation is fully digesting the concepts and allowing them to sink deeply into our bodies, where the alchemy of transformation really takes place. Transformation has it’s own organic timeline that is out of our hands. It cannot be rushed. We cannot control or predict it. This truth can be hard to swallow, especially because our culture sends the message that success is equivalent to control and timely “results.”

Beth Cavener Stichter - Bringing Down the Moon

I know this well because I spent years avoiding the deeper work because it was too threatening to my ego who wanted to be done and healed yesterday.  I eventually realized that the need to reach the final destination was really a defense against the un-processed grief within me. Wanting to skip over or avoid the murky parts was actually a projection of the child within me who wanted someone to rescue me from pain the way my parents never could. I would project my power outward onto a new teacher or method, asking them to be the mother I never had. This insight allowed me to see that attachment to the idea of a final destination was really just a postponement of facing the pain within me. I realized that if I was to work through it, I needed to face it head on.

In our patriarchal culture, there is the illusion that there’s safety in living life “from the neck-up.” We are encouraged in covert and overt ways to push aside our deeper, complex experiences. It’s what I call a belief that relief is in “away.” It’s the belief that we can push uncomfortable things aside and out of sight in order to be free of them. Whether it’s through throwing trash “away” or making the pain go “away” with a pill or a drink. It’s the deeper belief that freedom and comfort are possible in denial.

There was a time when there was indeed safety in denial, pushing aside, dis-owning, clenching or contracting. And that time is when we were children and had no choice but to suppress and deny our true feelings in order to survive. We’ve all had to do this to some degree.

Jackie Carpenter

Reality is much different as adults. We come to realize that there really is no such thing as “away.” We must SEE things and become conscious of them first before we can ever become truly free of them.  The sooner we accept this, the smoother our journey can become. Whatever we refuse to see simply lies in waiting until we are ready to see and digest it. If we continue to resist, we’ll only experience increasing limitation and hardship.

The paradox is that when we truly see the thing we wish to be free of, we cease seeing it as something to “get rid of” but actually for the gift that it is in helping us to be more conscious and thus more free. 

For example, if we have a goal and experience resistance to that goal, we become free of that resistance not by resisting it further or shaming ourselves, but by becoming curious and inquiring into the resistance. This openness and curiosity allows us to receive insights into the deeper cause of the resistance, at which point, we usually experience an emotional or bodily shift. This shift in the body/mind causes the resistance to lose it’s power to stop us and we can then move forward again toward the goal. We can trust that whatever is coming up is the next level of what needs to be processed in order to be released. Resistance always holds a gift. 

Claudia McKinney

A key indicator for me is noticing how my breathing changes in relation to my thoughts. I notice that when I think a contracting thought, my breathing becomes shallow and quicker. And when I think an empowering, loving thought my belly expands and my breath automatically deepens down into my gut. There’s a physical sense of relief and opening. It’s as though my body is showing me what is true.

Relief from the pain comes from opening to the pain

For many of us, our bodies have served as a place we have stashed our biggest hurts. Opening to our bodies can be scary because we know that the hurt is in there. To the child within, there may be a fear that opening to the old pain will only bring more pain. But the truth is that in the opening to pain is ultimately where the relief lies. Staying present to our own pain is part of mothering ourselves and gives us the experience that we are bigger and more powerful than any intense emotion.

The Key in the Lock: Take inquiry into the Body

Hatching the Universal by Judy Chicago

We must measure our transformations, not by the number of years we’ve been on the path, the number of books we’ve read, or the teachers we’ve studied with, but by the depths we have gone to in our own process. This is only something only we can know about ourselves. It’s a private kind of integrity. It’s a combination of commitment and surrender. The question really is ‘How can I live in each moment in alignment with what I know to be true?’ and ‘How can my words and actions line up with my deepest truth?’ Sometimes we can feel the hunger for this kind of alignment in our very cells.

Very simple concepts have enormous richness and transformative power when they are felt and absorbed within the body. 

I recall a moment on my journey when a major insight dropped into my body and thinking “Oh, THIS is what they were talking about in the book.” I was amazed at how the direct experience of a very simple insight had so much more nuance and complexity than the mental concept had implied. Holding concepts lightly allows us to have direct experiences that transform us. If we hold the concepts too tightly, they become a barrier or a kind of prison. That’s why our openness to the organic flow of the healing journey is so important if we are to truly transform.

%22Birth of a Galaxy%22 by Willow Arlenea

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

As Joseph Campbell says, meaning (or mental understanding) is not ultimately what we want. We want to feel our aliveness and our power right now, amidst the process and along the infinite spiral of growth. Letting go of the timeline and opening to the unknown is an incredibly alive, fertile, rich place that begins to feel more and more like home. Part of the rapture of being alive is a state of not-knowing and yet full presence in our moment-to-moment experience.

Suren Voskanyan

Our bodies are always in the present moment. Our bodies are always telling us the truth.

Healing trauma takes a long time and it’s not easy. But it’s infinitely worth it. It’s not glamorous, tidy or pretty. In fact, it takes guts, determination and a big dose of grit. But what you get in return is an undeniable, bone-deep direct experience of yourself and who you REALLY are, which is beyond words and concepts. This direct experience takes deeper root with each tiny step you take, with each new layer, with each micro-insight. After a while, the timeline matters less and less because the richness of your own direct experience of yourself is more fulfilling than any concept could ever be. That’s because you can feel it in your body and it’s become a living, breathing reality.

Reaching out by Lilaviolet

There is a profound holiness that opens up when we embrace the process and un-know-abillity of the timeline. The willingness to trust and not know puts the ego aside in it’s proper, secondary place so that the holy can be seated firmly within us. We have to be willing to make this choice again and again, the choice to drop into this moment and not flee it for the concept of a final destination.

Digestion cannot be rushed. It’s done when it’s done. We can imagine concepts as nutritious food that takes time to digest and become integrated into the body. 

There is no “Away.” There are no shortcuts. We each must do the work. 

Transformation is a conscious choice you make. You have the power to commit to your transformation. How deep do you want to go?

For example, as a transformational coach, I can provide you with the roadmap on how to heal the mother wound and provide support along the way. But the results of your transformation rest solely with you, because only you can determine how deeply you digest the material and how actively use the roadmap you’ve been given. I set up the space, give you the tools and support, and the rest is up to you.

rio de janeiro II by judy paul

You are Nature. Your body has seasons of it’s own.

And yet no matter how much we commit to the process of our transformation, the body has limits and we must be careful not to push ourselves too hard. The cycles and seasons of our bodies help us to shift our identity to the formless, timeless being we are. Our needs for rest, for movement, all serve our transformation in some way. Trusting and surrendering help to let go of the need to control.

In order to give birth a woman consciously opens to a painful experience in her body in order to give birth to new life, to a new consciousness. As the Divine Feminine is increasingly awakened in us, men and women are being asked to consciously open to the pain of our emotional wounds so that they can be transformed into new life, new wisdom and new love. In that wide openness, we can see that pain consciously experienced has a liberating power to awaken us to the deeper truth of who we are. 

Mayam - priestess of the divine feminine Print by Lila Violet

Bethany Webster © 2015

Art credits in order of appearance: “Goddess Flidais” by Amanda Clark, “Bringing Down the Moon” by Beth Cavener Stichter“Alone with My Thoughts” by Jackie Carpenter, Title Unknown by Claudia McKinney, “Birthing the Universal” by Judy Chicago“Birth of a Galaxy” by Willow Arlenea, Title Unknown by Suren Voskanyan, “Reaching Out” by Lila Violet, Rio de Janeiro II  by Judy Paul, “Mayam – priestess of the divine feminine” Print by Lila Violet

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Thank you for reading! I invite you to play with the exercises that follow and also leave a comment below–How do things shift for you when you drop into your body versus staying in your head?

Exercise:

For any limiting belief that you become conscious of, ask yourself the following three questions: 

  1. How did this belief keep me safe as a child?
  2. And how is it limiting me now as an adult?
  3. What do I need to grieve or feel angry about? What energy needs to be felt or released through my body? (Drop into your body and take note of sensations you may be feeling. Just watch them with curiosity and take note of what you experience.)
  4. What new belief or intention can I embody that affirms my authentic self and affirmatively declares my truth? Notice how your body shifts or changes as you write or verbalize the new belief.

Exercise:

Do you need to make a choice between two options? Are you feeling conflicted about something?

Picture the first choice in your mind as vividly as you can. Imagine the process and the outcome. See how your body feels and what sensations arise. Is there an opening or a contracting? Does your breathing relax or constrict? Do the same for the second scenario. The perfect choice for you will usually reveal itself as the most open, flowing and harmonious energy in your body.

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Does this article resonate with you?  Sign up here for a free 30-minute “Healing the Mother Wound Clarity Session” with Bethany to learn about her private coaching on healing the mother wound. 

Ways to work with Bethany: 

Click here to download my FREE e-book on “Transforming the Inner Mother” and sign up for my newsletter.