How to Bloom in the Dark: Self-Compassion, Compost, and Nature

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December 3, 2021

Compassion is the magic ingredient that turns our personal “compost” into personal evolution.

 Some time ago, I found a strange bloom in the kitchen. It was elegantly twisted, like a dragon at a Chinese New Year celebration. It was frilled, purple, and pungent. This exquisite thing grew out of a chunk of purple cabbage that I’d put under the sink to go out for compost. Instead of fading quietly however, it burst into new life in the dark grotto of my cabinetry. It blossomed into something unexpected, unusual, and fiercely beautiful.

Reflecting on the discovery of this “flower” in the shadows, I’m reminded of, and heartened by, the fertility of dark times. Many people are feeling a collective spiritual darkness now, exhausted and frustrated, maybe also angry and scared. Having compassion for ourselves and others is especially important in times of literal and metaphorical darkness. How can we do this if we already feel overloaded?

Nature is our ultimate model and guide—in the light, in the dark, and in the most surprising and gorgeous ways. Cue the weird, glorious cabbage flower which came to life in the dark. What was being shown there?

There is the clear compost metaphor. Compost is the stuff we reject, the moldy, wilted, too hard, too soft, nasty bits that don’t make it to the table. It’s also the leftovers from delicious things we appreciate and enjoy, silky mango skins, green tea leaves, dark coffee grounds.

It all transforms into a rich sloop that eventually nourishes future plants. Our personal work includes processing our own “dark” sides, the parts we’d like to hide or discard. Self-compassion (and compassion for others) holds both the rejected and respected parts of who we are. Like composting, it isn’t always pretty, but it’s potent. Research shows self-compassion helps us stay present and kindhearted without sinking into absorptive empathy, which can lead to overload and burnout. This meditation is part of the toolkit in the audio course Shining Bright Without Burning Out.

The cycles of the natural world, into which we are interwoven, take time. It’s hard to be patient, to let everything, both scorned and enjoyed, stew in our symbolic personal compost piles. The speed with which that brew changes from nasty to nourishing varies widely with the internal and external conditions. Sometimes all those different elements take a long time to dissolve and break down. Sometimes it turns around faster than we think possible, like time-lapse photography of a log rotting on the forest floor with new green shoots springing to life overnight. Compassion is the magic ingredient that turns our personal “compost” into personal evolution.

The dark supports transformation. Times of literal darkness are needed for regeneration. Roots, seeds, and bulbs prepare. People and animals sleep. Times of symbolic darkness are also helpful. In darkness, transformative processes happen without spectators, often below the level of our conscious awareness. These are periods of catharsis, healing after trauma, cocooning in preparation for the next version of ourselves and our world.

We sometimes feel hopeless and helpless in the dark. Our society avoids sinking into it. Instead, we gravitate towards purveyors of easy “love and light!” spirituality, shying away from the deep, gooey work that happens to the larval versions of ourselves (and those around us) when we’re in the darkness of the cocoon. Self-compassion is most needed when we’re a mess.

The dark is a vital part of the wheel of our days, our years, our lifetimes. We need it to survive and be healthy in the long term. So, let’s embrace it, explore it, and be gentle with ourselves as we confront our fear of it. From this darkness we are nourished to bloom into the light.

@ 2021 Mara Bishop MA

Order Shining Bright Without Burning Out now! 

Mara Bishop has
over 25 years of experience helping people find spiritual health and
well-being. Her Personal Evolution Counseling™ method blends shamanism,
psychology, intuition, energy healing, and nature-based practices. She
lives in Durham, NC with a beloved family of people, animals, and
plants.

More information about Mara is at www.WholeSpirit.com

Mara Bishop

Mara Bishop is a shamanic practitioner, intuitive consultant, teacher, author, and artist. In private practice, she uses her Personal Evolution Counseling™ method to provide an integrated approach to spiritual healing, personal growth, and emotional well-being. Her books Shamanism for Every Day: 365 Journeys and Inner Divinity: Crafting Your Life with Sacred Intelligence are resource guides for spiritual practice. She resides in Durham, North Carolina. For more, visit wholespirit.com.

Author photo © Sarah-Jane-Kenner

Also By Author

Shining Bright Without Burning Out

Mara Bishop is a shamanic practitioner, intuitive consultant, teacher, author, and artist. In private practice, she uses her Personal Evolution Counseling™ method to provide an integrated approach to spiritual healing, personal growth, and emotional well-being. She is the author of the books Shamanism for Every Day: 365 Journeys and Inner Divinity: Crafting Your Life with Sacred Intelligence, and, with Sounds True, she is the author of the audio learning program Shining Bright Without Burning Out: Spiritual Tools for Creating Healthy Energetic Boundaries in an Overconnected World

In this podcast, Mara speaks with Sounds True’s founder, Tami Simon, about how in today’s world we can learn to value our sensitivity instead of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Mara and Tami also discuss shamanism as a path of direct revelation, accessing non-ordinary consciousness for insight and healing, the three phases of creating healthy energetic boundaries, the difference between “just plain stress” and burnout, discovering your energy personality archetypes, understanding your energy ecosystems and how they interact, working on yourself and bringing light to the shadow aspects of your personality, the difference between compassion and empathy, energetic cleansing methods, the paradox of “one and all one,” Mara’s concept of “powering on” to amplify and shine our inner light, how our world has become “overconnected” and how to avoid the burnout this can create, the shamanic practitioner as someone who can “see through the eyes of the heart,” and more.

How to Bloom in the Dark: Self-Compassion, Compost, an...

Compassion is the magic ingredient that turns our personal “compost” into personal evolution.

 Some time ago, I found a strange bloom in the kitchen. It was elegantly twisted, like a dragon at a Chinese New Year celebration. It was frilled, purple, and pungent. This exquisite thing grew out of a chunk of purple cabbage that I’d put under the sink to go out for compost. Instead of fading quietly however, it burst into new life in the dark grotto of my cabinetry. It blossomed into something unexpected, unusual, and fiercely beautiful.

Reflecting on the discovery of this “flower” in the shadows, I’m reminded of, and heartened by, the fertility of dark times. Many people are feeling a collective spiritual darkness now, exhausted and frustrated, maybe also angry and scared. Having compassion for ourselves and others is especially important in times of literal and metaphorical darkness. How can we do this if we already feel overloaded?

Nature is our ultimate model and guide—in the light, in the dark, and in the most surprising and gorgeous ways. Cue the weird, glorious cabbage flower which came to life in the dark. What was being shown there?

There is the clear compost metaphor. Compost is the stuff we reject, the moldy, wilted, too hard, too soft, nasty bits that don’t make it to the table. It’s also the leftovers from delicious things we appreciate and enjoy, silky mango skins, green tea leaves, dark coffee grounds.

It all transforms into a rich sloop that eventually nourishes future plants. Our personal work includes processing our own “dark” sides, the parts we’d like to hide or discard. Self-compassion (and compassion for others) holds both the rejected and respected parts of who we are. Like composting, it isn’t always pretty, but it’s potent. Research shows self-compassion helps us stay present and kindhearted without sinking into absorptive empathy, which can lead to overload and burnout. This meditation is part of the toolkit in the audio course Shining Bright Without Burning Out.

The cycles of the natural world, into which we are interwoven, take time. It’s hard to be patient, to let everything, both scorned and enjoyed, stew in our symbolic personal compost piles. The speed with which that brew changes from nasty to nourishing varies widely with the internal and external conditions. Sometimes all those different elements take a long time to dissolve and break down. Sometimes it turns around faster than we think possible, like time-lapse photography of a log rotting on the forest floor with new green shoots springing to life overnight. Compassion is the magic ingredient that turns our personal “compost” into personal evolution.

The dark supports transformation. Times of literal darkness are needed for regeneration. Roots, seeds, and bulbs prepare. People and animals sleep. Times of symbolic darkness are also helpful. In darkness, transformative processes happen without spectators, often below the level of our conscious awareness. These are periods of catharsis, healing after trauma, cocooning in preparation for the next version of ourselves and our world.

We sometimes feel hopeless and helpless in the dark. Our society avoids sinking into it. Instead, we gravitate towards purveyors of easy “love and light!” spirituality, shying away from the deep, gooey work that happens to the larval versions of ourselves (and those around us) when we’re in the darkness of the cocoon. Self-compassion is most needed when we’re a mess.

The dark is a vital part of the wheel of our days, our years, our lifetimes. We need it to survive and be healthy in the long term. So, let’s embrace it, explore it, and be gentle with ourselves as we confront our fear of it. From this darkness we are nourished to bloom into the light.

@ 2021 Mara Bishop MA

Order Shining Bright Without Burning Out now! 

Mara Bishop has
over 25 years of experience helping people find spiritual health and
well-being. Her Personal Evolution Counseling™ method blends shamanism,
psychology, intuition, energy healing, and nature-based practices. She
lives in Durham, NC with a beloved family of people, animals, and
plants.

More information about Mara is at www.WholeSpirit.com

How Do You Shine Bright? Managing Your Energy Ecosyste...

When you hear the phrase “shining bright,” what does it evoke for you? Does it mean being yourself? Is it radiance, openness, or casting your energy outward toward others? Is it being the center of attention?

For me, shining bright is about sustainable personal energy, understanding your unique spiritual makeup or energetic personality archetype. It’s about managing your energy ecosystem. It’s also about keeping the balance of what’s “coming in” and what’s “going out,” as all healthy systems do.

One of the ways I feel my “brightest” is when I’m in nature, especially in the little jungle of my backyard. As I write this, a rabbit is relentlessly distracting me by flashing its ears in my line of sight, stretching up to grab some leaves, ducking down into the ivy. Observing and immersing myself in nature keeps my energy ecosystem healthy. It helps me see the bigger picture of the earth’s systems and appreciate the extraordinary beauty that exists in our seemingly ordinary spaces. I breathe differently and feel lighter when I’m watching the creatures and plants outside.

Rabbits don’t do it for you? You may need the bright lights of the stage, deep long meaningful conversations, sweaty workouts, or something else. It’s a combination of things that blend to create ideal self-care habits, big and small routines that honor who we naturally are and help us be our most radiant.

It’s hard to shine bright when you’re burned out. Many of us are overwhelmed, facing disasters of all kinds. Even if we’re not experiencing direct trauma, the world feels chaotic. That can make it easier for us to spin out of control a little too and neglect healthy habits. Maybe, like me, you love and are rejuvenated by time in nature, but feel you must travel to far-off places to find the wild and that’s not possible right now. Maybe you’ve struggled to find a practice that suits who you are and fits into your life. Maybe you feel the experiences of those around you so keenly in your body that it’s hard to distinguish your own emotions and needs.

We’re vulnerable to burnout when we get overwhelmed and depleted when we become cynical and feel negative and ineffective about our work. We start to distance ourselves from others and detach from ourselves, our needs, and what it takes to be healthy and happy.

I have two resources to help, one is available now, and one will be available soon.

Even if you only have a few moments, making time to meditate or journey regularly can help avoid burnout. Shamanism for Every Day: 365 Journeys is a daily guide for reconnection. No pressure, not another to-do list item, but a gentle way to engage your inner wisdom and the support of the spirits around you to stay healthy. Shining Bright Without Burning Out: Spiritual Tools for Creating Healthy Energetic Boundaries in an Overconnected World is an audio course that will help you step by step to manage what comes into your energy ecosystem and what goes out. We’ll reframe how you engage the world in order to stay compassionate and present, without losing your spark or burning out, so that you can shine bright and enjoy your time here on this beautiful earth.

Preorder Shining Bright Without Burning Out now! 

Mara Bishop has over 25 years of experience helping people find spiritual health and well-being. Her Personal Evolution Counseling™ method blends shamanism, psychology, intuition, energy healing, and nature-based practices. She lives in Durham, NC with a beloved family of people, animals, and plants.

More information about Mara is at www.WholeSpirit.com

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