Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapter Ten: The Bright Light

The Lady with the Lamp
Florence Nightingale's name has been badly maligned in order to describe caregivers who form emotional attachments to their patients. FloNi was no sap, though. She was a strong, courageous woman who flouted the wishes of her family and the conventions of society in order to pursue her passion. She gained the nickname "The Lady with the Lamp" from a quote in a report on her work in the Crimean War:
"She is a ‘ministering angel’ without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow's face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds."

The bright lights stand out in stark contrast to the darkness around them and attract an enormous amount of attention. Some people, unaccustomed as they are to such radiance, attempt to snuff it out. The brightness utterly overwhelms them. More often than not, though, people are drawn to these bright lights because they love how they feel when illuminated. Being in the light is uplifting and allows people to see their highest, best selves.

If you happen to be a particularly bright light, you may have noticed that people like to be around you and will tell you how good they feel when with you. This is nice to hear, especially if you like taking care of people and helping them feel good. Be cautious of this good feeling, though. Do not rest too comfortably and wrap your identity in it. For there will come a time when someone comes to your light and tries to possess it, control it, exploit it and offers nothing in return. Accustomed as you are to shining, you might want to give them everything for their joy and elevation, but you must not.

In Kundalini yoga, we talk about being "impersonally personal" as teachers. We are there to deliver the teachings and to deliver people to a conscious, ecstatic experience of themselves. We are there to Poke, Provoke, Confront and Elevate- not to coddle or save. 

The desire to hold on to a good feeling is understandable, but good feelings generated without are not sustainable. Bright lights are not in the world to make other people happy- they are mirrors to show us how much light we actually contain. Like the best teachers, bright lights can lead us to the gate of our own understanding so that we learn to find our own happiness within. We are accountable for finding and keeping our own happiness- we mustn't vampirically steal light from others. And as bright lights, we mustn't allow the weight and darkness of others to diminish our glow.

Shine. Radiate. Light up every dark corner with your bright truth and don't let anyone make you responsible for how they feel. That's cheating.

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