MATTHEW LICATA April 14, 2015
The Gift of Sadness
At times, you may become aware of a subtle feeling of sadness that accompanies you throughout the day. Perhaps you feel it as you wake in the morning – some vague sense that something is missing, that things are just not quite as they should be, a longing to be more alive and connected. Or during the sunset or as the moon rises in the night sky. A very raw, tender, melancholic call – please, come closer. Be fully here.
It is tempting to try to pin the sadness onto something—to something someone said, to the loss of a dear friend or lover, to some way you've failed, or to some confusion as to why you've come here or what love really is. Perhaps if you could just link the sadness to some particular aspect of your life situation, then you could 'fix' it. But you sense there's something much more vast occurring here. And that nothing is broken.
It is so easy to dismiss sadness, to conclude that its presence is evidence that something has gone wrong, that some mistake has occurred that you must urgently remedy, that you are flawed in some fundamental way, or that you are unworthy of a life of the giving and receiving of wild love. Oh, by the way, it's not very 'spiritual,' is it, for sadness or grief or longing to be so alive within you? I mean, what about staying in the now, loving what is, accepting the moment, being grateful for everything you have, laws of attraction, and all of that?
But what if sadness were a very legitimate and valid experience, in fact a harbinger of integration? What if it were a very alive portal into presence, into the breaking open of your heart, and into a wild sort of compassion and connection? What if the freedom you are so longing for will never arise from understanding, 'transforming,' or even 'healing' the uninvited pure guest of sadness, but by entering into relationship with it? By practicing kindness toward it? By providing a sanctuary for it in which it may reveal its sacred gifts?
What if sadness was a messenger sent by some part of you that was longing to be met, finally arising into the light of your awareness to be integrated into the wholeness that you are? What if sadness was never the problem after all, but only the abandonment of it?
As a sensitive, alive human being, it is likely sadness will come knocking from time to time, arriving at the threshold of your heart seeking admittance into the majesty that you are. Before you send it away, become aggressive toward it, deny it or urgently seek relief from it, please take a moment and see. Is sadness an obstacle on your path, or is it the path itself?
In just one radiant here and now moment, you can infuse the energy we call 'sadness' with your presence, with the light of your awareness, and hold it as you would an orphaned child. Stay with your sadness and allow it to reveal its essence, its nature, and its illumination upon you. For it is a very important portal into aliveness, intimacy, and connection, and a golden doorway into the mysteries of separation and union.
This article has been reprinted here with permission from the author.
Matt Licata, PhD, is a psychotherapist, writer and teacher who has spent the last 25 years deeply immersed in the study and practice of psychological and contemplative approaches to personal and interpersonal growth, emotional and somatic healing, and spiritual transformation, alongside some of the world's most respected psychologists, psychotherapists, spiritual teachers and healers.
Photo "Light and Darkness" by Jonathan Emmanuel Flores Tarello, Creative Commons