“The Soul dwells in the darkness,
the dark pond.
It’s up to me to take that wisdom,
that dark, quiet, calm part of me
and express it with the brightness
that the outside world can see.
I function in the shadows,
behind the veils.
It’s hard and challenging to be in the light,
under the spotlight.
But it’s important to be there
and to show or tell
what I saw and felt
in the dark depths of the Soul.
There is love and strength
in that gentle, calm darkness.”
– Meditation notes, 10/16/18
The Environment, Setting the Stage
* Disclaimer: any mention of “you” in this article is meant as the general population at large, not any specific individual.
* Disclaimer: this is merely me talking from my experience and not trying to give advice (me talking to my younger self); you may or may not resonate with any of this; take what works, discard what doesn’t. (:
* Music: Sleep Tones – by Charlie Dreaming (looped)
That was a quote I had during a recent meditation, where I went for 2+ hours for the first time; it was one of few times I’ve done a meditation in the evening, rather than the morning/afternoon.
Everyone was asleep, all of the computers were off and I only had the faintest of meditative, chill music playing in the background. And lastly, no lights except a tiny lamp by my bed. The whole environment was dark, quiet, chill, very ambient, and almost haunted-house eerie with how the lamp was lighting the room.
Discovering the Black Cave
During my meditation, a vivid imagery popped up of my soul being a dark, black cave, with black sand on a small bank, a deep black pond in the center, and the moonlight beaming through a narrow hole at the top of the cave. I somehow knew that this cave was buried somewhere next to both an expanse of water as well as a forest, tucked away from civilization.
Aspects of the Soul
As I started to explore this “imagery” of the soul being a dark cave, I realized that the black cave doesn’t necessarily indicate the entirety of my soul, but rather a sliver, or an aspect of the soul. A single segment among many. I’m now exploring what the other colors of the spectrum might look like for my soul and how I might utilize those different aspects in my life.
But for now, I focus on the dark, quiet portion of my soul: the part hiding, reflecting, waiting in the cave.
Darkness Is Not Always Evil
The way I’m phrasing this may sound as though this is an evil, or sinister, or unwanted part of the soul, but it’s not quite like that. This part of the soul doesn’t necessarily want or need attention, it doesn’t necessarily want to be seen, and often I don’t “see it” unless I simmer down and seek it.
This dark, quiet part of the soul is confident, calm, isolated, wise, and individual. (Which makes sense given the trajectory of my goals, attention, and personality-aspirations at the moment.)
It’s as though a wiser part of myself is sitting inside that cave on the black-sandy shore, ready to give me wisdom, confidence, strength — all the tools to be individual, insular, authentic, and even audacious and loud with my ambitions.
Or it’s the cave itself, dark and dim, quiet and isolated … with dark walls so thick, no ongoings or musings from the outside world would penetrate to the inside.
This aspect of my soul is the personification or imagery of my being trying to become insular, to give and receive wisdom from and to itself, not bring it in from the outside.
But doesn’t go out of its way to get my attention: it just sits there, waiting for me to find the cave, find it sitting there on the shore.
It doesn’t care about what’s happening in the outside world.
It’s selfish, in a way.
It cares only about helping me find myself and find the wisdom and confidence within.
Its focus is NOT to help you, or the world, or what I’m working on:
It’s focusing on helping me focus on myself SO THAT I can better succeed with what I’m working on, helping the people around me, or contributing to the world.
It knows that I can’t do any of that if I don’t have my own world in order.
It knows I can’t do what I want to do if I don’t have trust in myself and in the wisdom of the dark cave.
Through the darkness and quietness I find myself, I trust myself, I find that strength … so that I may leverage that to make the largest and most authentic impact that I can.
Darkness is selfish in the short-term to be altruistic in the long-term.
The Persona and the Future
Through the meditation, I realized that this “imagery” can be a tool for me. I was in a completely different mental and physical state during that meditation. What I saw and felt through the imagery of that dark, black cave and seeing a sliver of my soul as that cave and its selfish strength …
When I’m in that cave – when I take on the persona of an individual isolated from the world, sitting on the black sand – I don’t care about the world in a fearful manner. I care about the world – my world, my environment, the people in it, the people I can impact – in a very different way.
I see the world in a different light when I’ve stepped away from the outside world to consult that darker, quieter inner self. When I’ve shielded myself with the privacy of those tall, rocky walls. Not blinded by street lights and flashing of millions of pixels or overburdened by the noise of others and the sound of nearby roads.
It has a certain air of confidence and calmness that I don’t often feel, but has been gradually forming over time. It alters the way I think about myself, how I interact with others, what I aspire towards, what I tolerate, what I’m audacious to say and do.
When I’m in that cave, I don’t think about what you’re thinking. For once, I’m not overburdening myself with the possibility of what someone might think about what I’m doing, what I believe, what I say, what I am aspiring towards, how I’m failing, what I — it’s endless.
The noise in my head is endless.
And it’s all imaginary. Those thoughts have no power over me, yet they take up the majority of my thoughts and attention. You may or may not think those things that I think you’re thinking, yet they constantly persist, trying to dominate the majority of my attention. They should have no power over me like they currently do.
Yet, from the perspective of that dark cave … I’m listening to myself. The noise of the outside world — it’s not there, and it’s beautiful. I don’t often get to hear myself, my actual self, the soul, the heart — I don’t get to hear it enough.
I love people, I love getting outside wisdom, I love seeing new ideas and creations, I love new perspectives — but for fuck’s sake, I don’t trust myself enough. I don’t value my own thought, my own wisdom, my own vision, my own life.
The black ‘color’ of my soul doesn’t give a shit about you, it doesn’t care about the world, it only cares about us — the soul, the heart, the mind, the body. If it’s not “mine,” it doesn’t care. If it’s not my ambition, it doesn’t care. If it doesn’t support me, it doesn’t care.
And that sounds harsh.
It is, in a way, but it’s a highly needed aspect of my life. I have put far too much weight in the opinions and “advice” of others; I would seek opinions and advice, not because I actually needed it (and many times it would be useful, don’t get me wrong) … but because I wanted your approval, I wanted someone to give me permission.
Often times I would neglect the advice, because it felt “good enough” to have your attention or that I wanted to feel the safety that “yes, I should do that thing – since you said so.”
The black cave doesn’t care about that. It just wants me to be me, it wants me to do what I already know, it wants me to be strong, and calm, and confident, and quiet, and ballsy, and audacious. It wants me to have a no-big-deal attitude about everything.
Because it knows that if I can help myself, if I can “not need permission” and have the audacity to do what I want to do in this life … then it will serve the other aspects of my soul that wants to give back to the world, wants to connect, wants to play.
It simply wants to create a space – a dark, dimly lit cavernous space – for me to explore myself and find the strength and wisdom that is always there, if I have the willingness to step into the cave and listen.
The dark, black, cave doesn’t give a shit about anybody but myself.
And all of this is me talking.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to hide the “selfish” part of myself behind some “color” or some “image” or “aspect I have no control over.” It’s all me, all of the aspects I will explore are still “me.”
But it’s painting a picture, mostly for myself, to understand myself, see how I operate, and be completely honest with myself about how I think and what I feel at times.
If I avoid this honest part of myself, then I am missing out on a certain strength and uniqueness about who I am and what I can bring to the world – and how I create and deliver it.
Which means: sometimes I have to ignore you. Sometimes I have to block out all the noise. Sometimes I have to stare at a blank page without social media a click away. Sometimes I have to go off the grid.
Sometimes I just have to find a cave and settle onto the black sandy shore, listening to the echoes of the soul to find my next step, without the temptation to get your permission.
Many of my largest moments of growth have been in isolated environments. Not all, but many. I love people, but sometimes people get in the way of my growth because I don’t know how to say no to you. I’m still learning how to balance the introvert-extravert spectrum to cater to the parts of me that wants to explore and have a good time and the parts that wants nothing to do the world but to develop the self and envision how I can enhance that world — so that I can return to the world with vigor and bring those visions to reality.
When I’m in that cave, I don’t think about you. I think about me and what I need to do to improve my life and the vision I have for a better tomorrow.
I don’t want you to fix me. I want to be able to fix myself and create personal strength.
It reinforces that I value you, but don’t “need” you. It helps me establish genuine connections, not a one-way relationship.
But it – the cave – does not care about you as much as it does about me. It acts as an anchor point for the rest of my soul, creating a space to establish strength, wisdom, and confidence so that I – and the rest of my soul – can do the work I am meant to do.
The dark part of my soul is perhaps one of the most loving parts of my soul, because it doesn’t want anything from you. It wants me to have my shit together, to be a strong, confident individual that can stand up for himself, take care of himself … so that I have nothing but everything to give and with no expectation of anything in return.
The cave knows that I want to do big things, want to operate from love, want to be able to make the world a better place – in small and big ways – but it’s wise enough to recognize that I can’t do what I need to do if I’m not consulting myself and finding that strength and courage within.
Caves Are Not for Dwelling – Visit, but don’t stay.
It’s hard to live in a cave all the time. You have to come out at some point, unless you don’t need food, or sunlight, or people. I still need those things.
That cave – that perspective, that mindset, that momentary way of being – I’m realizing, is damn powerful and I should figuratively visit it every single day. It should be where I go to seek myself and what I am here to do. It should be where I go to find inner strength, confidence and the audacity to live the life I want to live.
But I can’t stay there, not forever.
The cave, as I said, is pretty selfish. It doesn’t care about you – in the way that I, or the other colors/aspects of my soul, might.
But it’s still wise and it still has good intentions. Its intention, however, is focused on the cultivation and enhancement of the whole-self. That whole-self still wants to do good, still wants to create a better life (for myself and the world).
The cave knows that. It knows that it’s only a fragment of the entirety of the soul, only a piece in the grand scheme of things. The cave is stationary, it’s patient, and it’s always there. It doesn’t need to make a loud noise, it doesn’t need to get my own attention; but it’s a resource, full of wisdom and inner strength, that will always be there … as long as I have the willingness to step away from the noise and enter the cave.
Once I have consulted the dark part of my soul – the quiet, strong, wise and confident part – it becomes time to step out of the cave and into the light of the world. Once I reconnect with that inner strength and envision “who I really am” and “what I’m meant to do,” I must take that new wisdom and reinforced strength into the world, and bring it into reality.
I can’t do that from the cave, but I use the cave to find a certain strength within myself.
I ultimately must transmute that dark, inner wisdom into the light that others see and communicate with, in some way through my actions and spoken words — utilizing another aspect, another color of the soul and self. Every aspect has its value and I must learn to use all aspects if I really want to make the impact I feel called to make – in my own life, and in the world.
I will not always need the dark cave, but there will be moments where I need a lot of time in the cave – to align and connect to the self, to envision, to strategize, to shake off all the clutter from the outside. I do not aspire to spend all my time in the cave: only long enough to find and create my inner strength so that I can move forward in the rest of my life with conviction and courage.
Visiting the cave is only important when I need to block out the world, when I’m getting anxious about everything going on, all the stimulation, too many inputs — and need to reduce it to one: my own input.
… So what does this all really mean?
Up to this point, that is where my mind was going with my meditation and the visual imagery I discovered. It is now a mental rehearsal tool for me to help me find myself and find inner confidence to be who I am. To be able to mentally practice quieting the outside noise and be able to listen to myself.
In reality, and in actual practice, this comes down to the practice of making insularity a characteristic of who I am. Being able to block out the extra noise of the world and trust more of my own intuition.
This may mean that sometimes I fall off the grid. Or I have to tell people no that want me to come hang out or go to a dance. I may want to go to a dance, but at certain points it may be better for my growth to stay inside and focus on my thing – whatever it may be. This may mean I have to leave a party early or wander off on a walk because I need a moment of quiet and inward-ness.
Sometimes the visiting the cave will only take a few minutes, other times it will require days.
I can’t be afraid of doing that. It’s who I am, it’s what I have to do if I want to honor who I really am and what’s best for me. (And I hope others can do the same for themselves, whatever their circumstance or “cave” is.)
I have to spend less time seeking consultation from you, getting advice and opinions unless I am genuinely trying to learn something – or seek your perspective because it’s your perspective. You are awesome and have unique experiences, but up to this point a lot of my “advice seeking” has been a result of not trusting my own intuition or the vision that I have. People’s input matters, but only if I approach it in the right way.
I have these periods where I “go dark” and don’t really talk to anyone – this is often why I prefer late nights, because there’s less of a feeling that there are people around, and thus there’s less guilt for not engaging with you. They don’t really last that long, but I’m now realizing that I have to embrace it entirely so that it doesn’t become an unhealthy cycle:
Let myself go into “the cave” (disconnect all the things and spend time solo), gather the internal wisdom (find the self, realign with my “vision”), and then come back to normal-people-life and start building what I saw/felt.
My most ambitious ideas and projects often come from periods of complete isolation, because my ambition is not filtered through society’s rules – or merely my thoughts of what society might think.
And it’s why some of my deepest and most personal posts have come from night-time sprees like this: when I’ve had a lot of time to myself, I have the right environment to put me in a powerful internal state, and/or I’m so sleep deprived that I’m highly disinhibited and can say “fuck it, let’s see what happens.”
This whole experience and exploration-through-writing is a reminder to stay the course towards becoming stronger as an individual, trust my own intuition, and be insular: putting the blinders up and keep forging a path towards the life I want to live, the impact I want to make, and the experiences I want to have.
The Cave Environment: Low Key and Chill Vibes
The visual of a cave can be taken another step forward with the environments that I’m in.
I’m an individual that gets easily over-stimulated and overwhelmed by the environment, activities, people, etc. Not always, but many times.
I am becoming more aware to what has the potential to overstimulate my nervous system. Sometimes I have to turn off every electronic device (the computer, the fans, the music, everything) in my room in order to feel a sense of peace, control and re-grounding. I have to dim the lights as much as possible. — Essentially creating as low-stimulation of an environment as I can.
Similar to those sensory-deprivation chambers: take away the sight, the sound, the sense of touch … and you start to heighten other senses and processes, likely bound to make you go inward, retrospective and contemplative, or start to visualize where you want to go in the future.
That is, in essence, what the “dark cave” is within the mind and heart.
But it applies to other situations, too. The over-stimulation of environments impacts my ability to comfortably socialize and interact with others. Bars are a goddamn nightmare for me. I’m quiet by nature and it’s hard to speak over loud music, let alone the rest of my social challenges. Going to bars and similar environments when I’m not in the right frame of mind makes me feel like I’m a sponge being squeezed to death. The context, the frame of mind, and the goal all impact it. (Because I’ve attended other “loud” and “busy” things and had a blast; but I probably wasn’t primarily going there to talk to people, I was going there to experience it.)
Yes, part of that is just the awkwardness of not knowing how to properly socialize with people (although it’s improving) – that’s a different circumstance.
But stick me in a low-key lounge, like the time I went to Los Angeles and visited the Public at the Roosevelt in Hollywood? With music I don’t have to yell over? Dimmer lighting? Softer, relaxing aesthetic? Chiiiiill vibes?
Then I’m golden. I think it’s just a part of my makeup as an individual: too much “information” entering my senses can overwhelm me, but when there’s less of that information, or less intensity of that information, then I can process my own thoughts, feel less overwhelmed (and not have automatic, anxiety-based reactions), pay more attention to who’s with me, and react/respond to people more authentically.
I may not get to “see” you quite as well in the dim light, but I’ll get to see -you- better. And this also applies when consulting my own self/soul.
(And I also realize that it may just be the anxiety of dealing with new social situations that I haven’t adapted to.)
This is in no-way saying that I absolutely “must” have low-key environments to socialize, but it makes a massive difference in my ease of doing so. It’s the difference between environments where I have to work hard to be optimal and environments where I thrive with no effort.
Inspire Yourself, Do It For Yourself, and Strike the Match of Your Own Accord
Seeking the cave of my soul is ultimately about insularity and finding the courage to inspire myself: I didn’t grow up with much self-confidence nor did I feel I had the agency to be myself or trust my intuition.
Finding the cave, operating from the cave, and running out of the cave into life with re-invigorated conviction is about having the audacity to be inspired by yourself and to trust in your vision.
Once you find that courage within, once you find that inner wisdom, inner strength — that vision of grandeur … it’s up to you to strike the match of your own accord and light the path for yourself.
And the people you will impact.
Although it is important to connect to the other wonderful humans around us, there is also tremendous value in being a little “selfish” and doing things exclusively for yourself. There are certain things we enjoy that others do not. Music that we enjoy that others do not. Certain things that inspire us that have no influence on others.
These things are unique to us; some of them may have overlap with others, and that’s cool and how we can ‘find our tribe’ — but those things should not be done specifically to find a tribe, but rather to discover and validate ourselves.
Whatever you want to do, you need to do for you first, tribe second.
You have to find that cave, explore those things about you that make you you – even if you’re too afraid to share them at first.
Seeking the Aspects of the Soul – Creating the Full Spectrum
I never really started to see “the soul” as a fragmentation of parts until I had this meditative experience, but this has since gotten me to think more about other aspects, or to divide my personality into different fragments in order to “see” them better.
Such as aspects for
- insularity, individuality and confidence (black)
- playfulness and self-compassionate guidance (pink)
- futurecasting and grandeur (purple & teal)
- love and contribution (white)
- conviction and passion (red)
These may not necessarily be fully comprehensive of the entire soul, but it’s a useful way for me to conceptualize and visualize myself in different ways — and different ways I can embrace aspects of my soul depending on where I’m at in my life or in a given moment, allowing me to focus (with these mental pictures and physical/emotional states) in ways that would help create the outcome I’m looking for.
I may take my time in the dark cave,
but it’s part of the equation
for living a full life
and making the impact I desire to make.
What part of yourself do you hide from others – or even yourself – that might be an asset for your own growth?
// Photo Credits: