A lot of emphasis is placed on positive thinking. From works like The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know!? to "Oprah," we hear time and time again how important it is to maintain positive loving thoughts about our lives and others. All the books we read, videos we watch and classes we attend are not wrong. Keeping your heart open and your thoughts loving and positive is probably the most important thing a person can do to improve our lives and keep them flowing smoothly.

But what do you do when you just can’t seem to get there? What about those times, often referred to as The Dark Night of the Soul, when your world seems to crash in around you and your thoughts turn towards the negative or even depression? What then?

"When one wishes to expand, one must first contract. When one wishes to rise, one must first fall" – Lao Tzu

Everyone goes through dark times. When we are gaining wisdom and moving along our spiritual paths, there will be times when we are called on to let our old selves die so that our new selves may be reborn. This can feel like a literal, physical death at times. At least it can to our egos and our outward selves. It may look like our lives are falling apart. We may find jobs going away, relationships ending or that our health is in crisis. Or it may be more our inner selves that feel chaotic. We may find ourselves questioning all our old beliefs and our ability to cope with whatever our life seems to be throwing at us.

All of us have been there and probably will be again. All the great spiritual leaders had their times of testing, of doubt or fear. What set them apart from others is that on a very conscious level, they knew what they were going through was an initiation. They knew it was a necessary part of becoming their true selves.

"King Solomon once searched for a cure against depression. He assembled his wise men together. They meditated for a long time and gave him the following advice: Make yourself a ring and have thereon engraved the words "This too shall pass." The King carried out the advice. He had the ring made and wore it constantly. Every time he felt sad and depressed, he looked at the ring, his mood would change and he would feel cheerful."

"This too shall pass" is one of the most important things to keep in mind when we are experiencing or darkness, contraction or initiations. Just as contractions come and go in childbirth and eventually push us out into the world, so it is with our emotional and mental challenges. They have the ability to push us to find our way into a new life. This is important, because each and every one of us has our own unique voice, our own gifts to share with the world. The world is waiting for us all to do that, to be that light we were meant to be.

When you find yourself experiencing your own personal darkness, reach out to your friends, family, healers or counselors. Read books that will help you gain perspective, journal, cry and stomp around. Do whatever you need to do to honor and process your feelings – but always remember "This too shall pass."

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