I breath in relief as I turn off the last light. I spend all day, every day, in brightness. It is easy to forget the relief that the dark brings. A love of darkness is something I have cultivated since my head injury. Darkness means a pause from a headache. Darkness means quiet. Darkness means a time of coming back into my body, my self.
So many electronic devices. So many lights. So much stimulation. All are put aside for this brief time of recovery. The soothing coolness of night pools around me and invites me to rest.
My eyes slowly adjust to the darkness. A world of soft greys define themselves around me. The rocking chairs, the plants. I look out the window and see stars appear, one by one. Out by our big linden tree a fairy light glows in the darkness, its gentle illumination welcome in the surrounding night.
It is time to become more whole. I sit down on a cushion and begin a mindfulness body scan meditation. The point of the meditation is to become more aware of the actual physical sensations of living, of the actual moment by moment reality of living in a body in this universe. After four days, I already find myself more aware of my body as I go about my daily tasks.
I take a few deep breaths to arrive in this moment, this body. The dark space surrounding me acts as a gentle guardian watching over me as I focus inward. I begin to mentally scan my body for sensation, starting with my head.
It is hard to do. I am sure I wouldn’t have been able to do this exercise a year ago – significant mental strength is needed to visualize and feel. It takes focus and dogged determination. Yesterday I rushed through it because I knew my mental acuity was almost gone before I started (work and a meeting). Today, I have a bit of time, a few extra tablespoons of oomph to spend.
Tingling. I feel tingling as I focus on my skin. Life energy joyously vibrating just below my regular awareness, reminding me I am alive and that my body is here. Muscles relax as my attention slowly runs through my head, neck, shoulders and on. My body lets go of tension without my direction, without my intent – simply because I strive to feel.
The entire time, darkness and peace surround me. No, it isn’t quiet – I live near a busy road, the old house creaks, the cats move through the living room. Although it is not quiet, there is something precious, something… healing about the darkness.
Imagine all of those people, those healthy people out there who don’t spend any time sitting quietly in darkened room. I rarely did. I was always heading to practice or work, every moment full of activity and tasks. No time nor reason to sit in a dimness and feel my life force. Now, it is one of my favorite parts of the day.
Mary thinks it is a bit unusual. She has complained on more than one occasion of coming home to a dark house at night – not even one light on – with me sitting in the middle of the living room, quiet. Perhaps sitting in darkness is not what adults do? How many adults sit in dark houses, not speaking, not interacting with an electronic device, enjoying the lack of light?
I expect many of my post concussion syndrome and mild TBI compatriots understand the beauty that is blackness, blankness. I feel more present and more awake the greater the darkness. I wonder if that will change as I continue to heal. Although I spend hours and hours near electronic lights all day and evening, there is still some small, important part of me that runs from the light, that only joins me when all of the lights are off and it is dark. That comes out from hiding as I slowly relax into meditation. That plays and gallops and feeds on the absence of light.
Some people are afraid of the dark. In the past, when I was still able to watch scary or horrific movies, my brain would have supplied one or another realistic-feeling danger approaching me in the darkness. That dang subconscious with it’s inability to discern a true experience from make believe. Now, I don’t watch horror films, and my subconscious no longer prompts me to protect against those predatory dangers. Now, the greys of my lightless surroundings simply mean peace.