Things to pack for a dark night of the soul

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Things to pack for a dark night of the soul

LIFE has turned to face me in full frontal, terrifying technicolor. At first I was petrified, paralyzed (strains of “I will survive-Gloria Gaynor” come wafting through my mind),I am being churned and burned to the bone. Clean, white bone.
A colleague of mine told me about Tibetan Buddhist monks who sit in charnel grounds with the dead, while the buzzards pick the bodies clean, meditating for days to remind them about the impermanence of life. I can relate to that as the old parts of my ego identity die, as I re-examine, update or discard elements of my outdated operating software.

Although I am still in a difficult space and am being continually flung back on my own resources, I have become aware that I am looking for comfort in familiar places that have always offered me safe refuge.

So tonight, in an effort to get out of my own way, I offer some of the aids I am using to get me through. The following is by no means an exhaustive list, merely a snapshot of what constellates to heal the heart wound at this moment.

Music:
My current anthem is Babel by Mumford and sons, the lyrics resonate and there is a prayer in there somewhere.
Islands: Essential Einaudi, particularly the Earth Prelude
A bit of Neil Young, Muse, Ben Howard, The Golden Path-chemical brothers, Vivaldi, various moody cello sonatas for when I really want to drop in and blister and some Jon Kabat Zinn guided mindfulness audiobooks to try and still the mind before sleep (didn’t work tonight though).

Books:
I avoid texts that are too heady when my emotions are up and rather aim for people who have mapped this terrain with their hearts. Anything by James Hollis, Tolle, Coehlo’s Warrior of Light, my weather beaten copy of the Norton Anthology of Poetry (to be opened at random pages for inspiration although I have my favorites) and obligatory pieces of fantastic escapist fiction which I reread (e.g. Julian May’s Intervention Saga and various Ian Mckewan novels) for when the going gets too heavy and I need to eject.

First Aid Kit:
Candles, dogs (fed and walked), a good bottle of Merlot, crackling fire, my numerous notebooks that I have written in over the years, so that I can track change and re formulate and re calibrate, head torch for wandering at some ungodly hour and an old alchemical tarot deck which I use to evoke the slumbering unconscious and drag it to the surface.

And last, but certainly not least, a fragment of hope that I have kept safely hidden in the very core of my being for just such an occasion.

What would you pack for a dark night of the soul?

About the author

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Jamie Elkon http://shrinkrap.co.za/

The author can be found rummaging through life looking for nourishment in the early hours of the morning. He is slowly going sane by using his actual life and relationships to wake up.He lives in Cape Town with his teenaged daughter, two bassett hounds named Thelma and Louise and Digit... the cat. He hugs trees, has experienced numerous dark nights of the soul, collects incorrect Chinese packaging and tracks curious things to their lair.

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