The landscape of healing

This week I want to introduce to my next Inspiration Shout-Out — Healing through the Dark Emotions by Miriam Greenspan. The book’s message is one of hope and wholeness, for the individual as well as for the wider world. It focuses on the alchemy that is possible when we embrace our emotions in all their diversity and all their fullness.

“Dark emotions don’t go away. They simply come to us in whatever form we can bear.”
p. 27

In 2007, I was very afraid. After a number of inconclusive tests, I was due to have surgery. No one could tell me what the surgery would entail, but one possible outcome was that cancer would be discovered and I’d require extensive surgery and a long recovery period, likely to be followed by some sort of additional treatment. Luckily, no cancer was found and the operation was very positive in physical terms.

The emotional landscape had been changed, however. While both grief and despair surfaced, it was the fear that remained most acute. Not having cancer was indeed a relief, and yet I wasn’t relieved of the fear that I was not really in control. From the fear that my body would betray me (again), blossomed a fear of failure and incompetence. Being unable to think my way out of my medical issues scared me into believing that I might also be unable to think my way out of other challenging life situations.

“You don’t surrender by moving away from what hurts. You surrender by moving into what hurts, with awareness as your protection. This is not ‘detachment’ in the conventional sense; it’s a connected detachment: staying connected to emotional energy mindfully. The detachment comes from being mindful, not from disconnecting.”
p. 78

To heal I had to come to grips with a new understanding of the world, namely that sometimes the only “rational” explanation is that there is no explanation. There is no thought process or logic that can save you. Even coming as it did after years of managing chronic health issues, years of needing to ask for and gratefully accept help, this was and remains a hard lesson to integrate.

As with feelings so with other aspects of our inner lives: we need to surrender to their existence, we need to make them personal without taking them personally. The fear, the pain, the suffering were mine, yes, but seeing them as an affront or as an attack on me personally would have moved me away from, rather than toward, greater awareness and connection. When we can stop attempting to “handle” our dark emotions and instead try to listen to them with an open heart, when we can embrace them as a message about our health and wholeness, we have new energy to channel into becoming our true selves.


Miriam Greenspan. (2003). Healing through the dark emotions. The wisdom of grief, fear, and despair. Boston: Shambala.

Creative Commons License
The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The landscape of healing

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