How to Navigate Dark Times

When I look back to my life 6 years ago before I took the plunge into the unknown world of self-employment I can see that, at some level, I had a very clear vision of how I wanted my life to be. This meant that, however confused, insecure or lost I may have felt at different stages over the 6 year period, I always tried to keep my sights on the light at the end of the tunnel.

When I was in Spain a couple of weeks ago, I had an experience which reminded me of that feeling as Eoin and I headed off on a mini-adventure after several days of confinement at our accommodation due to almost incessant rain. Eoin was in need of some physical exercise and his runner's body was becoming restless through lack of activity. So we drove to our nearest town - Olvera - and followed signs for the Via Verde. This is the old, disused train track from Olvera to another town 32 kms away which has now been turned into a public walkway through the stunning Andalucian countryside.

We had no real idea what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Via Verde has been really well thought out and is now open to pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders.

Since it was a damp, showery, grey Friday morning , we weren't surprised to find that we had the place to ourselves although the man who rented me a bike at the start of the walkway was somehwat surprised to see us, to say the least. I brushed our behaviour of with a couple of lines in Spanish which I hope meant that we were Irish and were well used to such weather and that we knew we were a little 'loco' for heading out in it. And off we went…me on my mountain bike and Eoin in his running gear – both a little cold and damp but glad to be moving and out and about.

The path runs along the side of hill after hill but, thankfully, rather than going up and down each hill, the Andalucians have engineered a series of tunnels to allow the old trains to travel more effortlessly through the mountainous terrain. The views across the seemingly never-ending patchwork of olive farms is stunning and the first signs of spring were all around us in the form of wild flowers of every colour. Every so often our senses would be assaulted by the sweet perfume of almond blossom. The rain had died down to a slow spit and Eoin found his pace as I enjoyed the childish freedom of being on a bike for the first time in ages. We shared the outward journey together with me circling back every so often to reconnect with Eoin.

The 20 tunnels along the Via Verde are all of varying lengths ranging from 30 to 260 metres and we soon realised that the longer ones had a button at the entrance which you could push to turn the tunnel lights on. This became Eoin’s job since he was on foot and it was easier for him to do. We both enjoyed the longer tunnels and the interesting acoustics in them which distorted our voices. A local goat-herder and his goats stood waiting outside the end of one of the tunnels with some trepidation to see what the source of the bad operatic singing from inside the tunnel could be! Once again, I mumbled an embarrassed excuse about us being mad Irish people.

After 7 kms, Eoin turned back but, since I had been taking it easy and free-wheeling much of the way, I wasn’t tired and decided to push on a bit further before turning and catching up with him on the way back. It hadn’t occurred to me that the reason I had been free-wheeling so much was because the outward journey was mostly on a slight downward incline which, of course, meant that the homeward journey would be a little tougher on my legs!

Anyway, as I flew along, smiling to myself and marvelling over how I came to be cycling through Andalucia on a Friday morning in March, I came to the first long tunnel and, being too impatient to top and turn the lights on, I just cycled on in. After all, I could already see daylight at the other end of it, even if it was 250 metres ahead so there was no problem.

What I hadn’t banked on was that, as I neared the halfway point of the tunnel, although I could see the end of it, the part that I was actually in was completely and totally dark. It is a long time since I have experienced such total, thick, heavy darkness and my eyes didn’t seem to be adjusting to it quickly enough after the contrast of the daylight I had left behind me. I started to find it impossible to judge my distance from the side walls of the tunnel and, in a matter of seconds, my brain became quite disorientated so total was the obscurity.

As I became physically insecure and uncertain, my mind immediately started playing tricks on me and fearful thoughts flooded in….

“What if someone is hiding in here and is going to jump out on me?”

“What if I fall off the bike?”

“What if there are bats or rats or other creatures in here?”

“What if that goat-herder is lurking in here waiting to assault me?”

Then my rational mind kicked in and focused on keeping the bike on a straight line down the centre of the tunnel and, within, minutes, I was back in daylight and the whole experience was behind me.

As I cycled on, pedalling faster and harder in an attempt to catch up with Eoin, I pondered the tunnel experience and how quickly our minds jump into fearful thoughts when we find ourselves in a new or unusual situation. I realised that we regularly go through ‘dark spots’ in our lives where we experience disorientation, anxiety or fear but one of the ways that we can navigate these dark spots easier is by holding our focus firmly on the light at the end of the tunnel. By this I mean that, if we have a clear and unswerving focus or destination then, like the boat which gets hit by a storm out at sea, after the storm passes, we can always navigate ourselves back on course. Wayne Dyer talks about heading out on a journey in your car at night-time… know your destination so just because the headlights only light the road up for 150 metres at a time it doesn’t meant that you stop and go home again. You have faith that you will be able to navigate your way and see what you need to see as a when you need to see it. You trust that your headlights will light up the next 150 metres and you don’t necessarily need to see the whole road ahead.

Abraham-Hicks also talk about how if you set out in your car and know that your final destination is, say Dublin, that even if the journey takes longer than you had planned or you hit some traffic jams on the way, you never question the fact that you are still going to reach Dublin eventually. You never lose faith half way and turn back for home.

This is why, if you are serious about creating positive and meaningful change in your life by harnessing the energy of the Law of Attraction, then you must create a clear vision of that change , that destination. You must know what the end of the tunnel looks like and that it exists because it is very likely that you will hit some ‘dark spots’ along the way. There probably will be points where fearful thoughts kick in, where anxiety takes over, you lose your bearings and become a little disorientated or unsteady. But, if you can train your eyes, your heart and your mind to the light at the end of the tunnel the, pretty soon, you will re-emerge into the familiarity and security of daylight. Until, of course, you enter the next tunnel….

So, when I reached the next long tunnel on my bike, I decided to try it again in the dark and to consciously watch what happened to me physically, emotionally and mentally and whether, since I was doing it consciously and knew what to expect, if would have the same impact on me. Again, when I reached the dark spot in the centre of the tunnel, the unfamiliarity of the darkness, the contrast to the daylight and my active imagination all caused my body to tense up and my anxiety arose instantaneously. This time, however, I knew what I was doing because I had deliberately chosen not to turn the lights on and I was experiencing all this for a 2nd time and doing so with awareness. Now, instead of being taken over by fear, I was watching the fear with curiosity and was able to talk myself through it….

“It’s OK, Jenny, the tunnel is safe.”

“This dark spot passes pretty quickly.”

“Keep your eyes focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“This too will pass.”

And, within seconds, I was through it and laughing out loud like the crazy Irish woman I am.

When we keep our focus on the final destination, talk kindly and reassuringly to ourselves, breathe deeply and learn all we can about ourselves from these ‘dark spots’ in our lives then we are truly on the path to positive change and enlightenment.

As I cycled harder and faster and the Andalucian rain came on and soaked me to the skin, I realised that I didn’t have to catch up with Eoin to feel more secure going through the dark tunnels. I am strong enough and brave enough to go through them on my own – although it is a great joy to have someone to share both the ‘dark spots’ and the glorious countryside with as I travel along my path.

If you are currently going through a dark tunnel then why not book a FREE Introductory Session with one of our FreshStart Accredited Coaches to see how they can help you get to the light at the other end of the tunnel.