August 24th, 2023

Endarkenment: The Wisdom of Darkness to Heal Ourselves with Deborah Eden Tull

About this Episode

We live in a culture that holds the “Light” as superior to the Dark. 

In spiritual and medicine communities there’s a strong underlying narrative to move towards “enlightenment” but what is the impact it’s having on our health and wellbeing? 

Does the darkness hold the key to help us collectively move back into balance within ourselves? 

In this episode, Debohrah Eden Tull , the author of Luminous Darkness An Engaged Buddhist Approach to Embracing the Unknown, joins Laura Dawn to explore the medicine inherent in darkness and just how crucial this medicine is for us at a time of accelerating change and transition. 

Topics Covered
  • The concept of Endarkenment
  • The 5 pillars of Endarkenment
  • Life as a teacher of love
  • Cultivating resilience through restoration
  • The darkness as a source of creativity
  • The Shadow & Spiritual bypassing
  • Our incessant need to fill space with stories and narratives
  • The inner compass of interoceptive awareness 
  • The medicine of grief 
  • The potency of anger
  • Transmuting sacred rage
  • The necessity for compassion
  • Our connection to this earth and how Nature models and illuminates the wisdom of darkness. 
There's been a long habit of humanity pushing away darkness and all that it represents.
So darkness as in: other forms of knowing, more relational forms of knowing, intuition and ways that we work with inner vision rather than perceiving reality as fixed and set in stone, to the ways that we have deemed difficult emotions as negative, which are just part of the human experience in which we all have the healing heart to be able to work with and alchemize, to clinging to story rather than giving ourselves to living in presence and emergence as participants rather than living in a subject object relationship to life.
Deborah eden tull

Deborah Eden Tull Biography

Deborah Eden Tull is a Zen meditation/mindfulness teacher, author, spiritual activist and sustainability educator. She spent seven years as a monastic at a silent Zen Monastery, and has been immersed in sustainable communities for 25 years. Eden’s teaching style is grounded in compassionate awareness, non-duality, mindful inquiry, and an unwavering commitment to personal transformation. She teaches dharma intertwined with post-patriarchal thought and practices, resting upon a lived knowledge of our unity with the more than human world. She also facilitates The Work That Reconnects, as created by Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy. Eden has been practicing meditation for the past 30 years and teaching for over 20 years. Her books include Luminous Darkness: An Engaged Buddhist Approach to Embracing the Unknown (Shambhala 2022), Relational Mindfulness: A Handbook for Deepening Our Connection with Our Self, Each Other, and Our Planet (Wisdom 2018), and The Natural Kitchen: Your Guide to the Sustainable Food Revolution (Process Media 2011). She lives in Black Mountain,North Carolina, Cherokee land, and offers retreats, workshops, leadership trainings, and consultations internationally.


Nature models darkness as an incredibly restorative field and the field of all possibility and creativity. Remember that all light arises from darkness, all insight, fresh vision, creativity. And even in nature, the seeds I have under the dark soil right now in gestation, the mothering shade of a tree and how we are deeply restored in darkened environments.
Alexander Beiner

Free Resources


Episode #67: Endarkenment: The Wisdom of Darkness to Heal Ourselves with Deborah Eden Tull

My name is Laura Dawn, and you’re listening to episode number 67 of the psychedelic leadership podcast. Featuring my conversation with Zen meditation and mindfulness teacher, spiritual activist and author of luminous darkness, Deborah Eden toll.

One of the most profound lessons that I’ve learned over the years, sitting in ceremony and journeying with psychedelic medicines is that the darkness holds enormous amounts of wisdom. And it’s one of our most powerful allies on the path of inner transformation. Yet, I rarely hear people speaking about the wisdom of darkness from this perspective. Especially in our more spiritually oriented communities where there’s such a strong emphasis on attaining enlightenment. And it was the term endarkenment that immediately caught my attention. And I love how certain salient words jump out at me. And when that happens, I always pay attention and I follow that word, like following a breadcrumb trail. And this word endarkenment led me to Eden’s book called luminous darkness. And engaged Buddhist approach to embracing the unknown. And reading that book was like a full body resonate. Yes. At the turn of every page. Eden spent seven years as a monastic at a silent Zen monastery and has been immersed in sustainable communities for 25 years. Her teaching style is grounded in compassionate awareness. Non-duality mindful inquiry and an unwavering commitment to personal transformation. Truly my kind of lady. She teaches Dharma intertwined with post patriarchal thought and practices. Resting upon a lived knowledge of our unity with the more than human world. And even though in this conversation, We don’t really talk about plant medicines or ceremonies, psychedelic journeys, specifically what Eden shares points to what these medicines are also teaching us about the wisdom of darkness. And these are truly wisdom teachings for our time.

There is so much goodness, in this entire episode. In this conversation, we explore the constant need to fill space with stories and narratives, we talk about the shadow and the impact that pushing away the darkness has on our lives.

Eden speaks about life. As a teacher of love, we explore embodied awareness of raw energy. We talk about the resiliency that can be cultivated through sitting with grief and discomfort. About darkness as a source of restoration and creativity and the transmutation of sacred rage and how to work with that energy more responsibly.

And truly all of these points of conversation lead us back to nature and our inherent connection with this earth.

As many of, you know, studying Tibetan Buddhism has been a parallel path for me alongside my medicine path. And I’ve been studying Tibetan Buddhism for over 15 years, but honestly, I’ve just barely scratched the surface of understanding the depth of what these teachings really hold. And they’ve not only changed my life. They’ve quite literally saved my life. As I’ve moved through the darkness of depression. As I’ve healed myself from the grip of addiction. And as I moved through an incredibly difficult time holding space for enormous amounts of grief through the volcanic eruption, as I share in this episode with Eden.

And I have found that this body of wisdom teachings. They have been the most resonant, complimentary teachings to support my journey of embodied transformation on the medicine path. And trust me, I have searched far and wide, but nothing has come close. To the essence of what these teachings really point to because they essentially point to the heart of transformation. And the practices like mindfulness awareness practice, like my tree practice, like the practice of tongue Len, for example, and the teachings of Bodhi, Chita, or shamba, or the teachings of the six paramitas. Or the three marks of existence. They show us how to open our minds and open our hearts to greater possibility and unhook ourselves from deeply entrenched patterns of body and mind that keep us stuck, disconnected and unhappy.

And this is where the wisdom and science of transformation truly meet, because now there are so many studies that are really just validating what these wisdom teachings have been teaching for thousands of years. They are now showing us the impact that mindfulness has on our health and wellbeing. On so many levels. Science is truly validating the teachings of self compassion. These are essential components on the healing journey that we often want to bypass. Pema Chodron talks about the spiritual path being a path. Of befriending oneself. That wisdom has stuck with me all these years and the older I get, the more I realize just how true that really is.

And these teachings and the practice of mindfulness awareness play a foundational role in transilient a six month training program for psychedelic coaches, integration, guides, and microdosing mentors. Who want to learn a framework for supporting others on the path of embodied psychedelic transformation?

Because what I’ve learned over the past 25 years of being on my own healing journey and supporting hundreds of other people on the path as well. Is that mindfulness awareness and learning how to develop metacognitive awareness of what we are paying attention to in our lives is a foundational aspect to embodied transformation. And all of these teachings are ultimately supporting us on the path of transformation, resilience.

And what I love about these teachings is that they’re showing us how to embody. A more open fluid stance towards life.

So you can learn more about transilient by going to Laura Dawn dot. Dot co forward slash transience. Or click on the link in the show notes.

Where you can also learn more about Eden and all that she offers as well.

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All right friends without any further ado. Here’s my conversation with author of luminous darkness. Uh, Debra Eden toll.

Laura Dawn: Hi, Eden, thank you so much for taking the time to drop in with me today. I’m so grateful for your work and I loved your book, luminous darkness. So I’m so excited to dive into the exploration of the wisdom that darkness holds for us, especially at this moment in time. So thank you so much for being here with me.

Eden : Thank you, Laura. And I’m grateful to be here with you.

And let’s all acknowledge, uh, with inspiration and sobriety, the intensity of the times we’re living in. That we need to, uh, reckon with and to open our hearts to the teacher of both light and dark. And so, yeah, let’s explore luminous darkness, however you’d like to today.

Laura Dawn: Thank you. And thank you for naming the context of these times that we are living through right now. These are times of accelerating change. And it feels really intense for a lot of people right now. So I’m curious what you’re paying attention to, how you’re navigating these times. And is there an internal narrative that you’re holding? Is there a story that you’re holding about these times of transition right now?

Eden : Thank you. My, uh, intention always, always is to drop story and to lean into the space between the stories and to recognize, you know, the subtitle of the book is about, um, meeting uncertainty. And to recognize how easy it is when we’re facing uncertainty, change the unknown, that’s one context for darkness.

The mystery that we wanna go into a narrative or story in order to find kind of a conclusion or a supposedly safe place to reside. And really meditation practice. And when I say meditation, I mean sure sitting meditation might be part of it, but meditation is a way of life, a way of living where we’re committed to remembering who and what we actually are as human beings and together and beyond the narrative or stories.

So I think many people could notice how easy it’s to go into stories and frames now about these times about the intensity of what we’re facing. And I really. Love teaching people to be aware of that, but to drop deeper down into our bodies and our, um, source of natural intelligence, relational intelligence, so that we can navigate the emergence of these times from a more holistic way beyond story.

Laura Dawn: Okay. So what do you encourage people to do through the practice of dropping out of the mind? Letting story fall by the wayside and into the feeling body? Because even in the body we feel something and then it informs the story that we tell ourselves like wow these times feel intense even that’s a narrative

Eden : Yes. Yes. And I just going on what you just said, wanna remind people, the mind is a meaning making machine, and there’s so much possibility and choice when we bring awareness to the meaning, making conclusion, seeking, um, I think of it often as the mind of separation that wants to attain a destination that wants to get somewhere.

when we’re talking about dark and light, we can think about light as the lamp of knowledge and just look at for how long human consciousness has kind of, I would say, stuck ourselves into a little bit of confusion by trying so hard, by emphasizing rational mind as God and trying to get to this knowledge instead of going down into our bodies, what I consider our earth bodies, the field, the felt experience of interconnection and interdependence.

A kind of a deeper source of knowing that we access there. And yes, we can be humble about, um, how story is part of our, uh, existence. So, for instance, one of the roles that I. Play right now is that I’m a, a teacher of sacred activism.

Recognizing these times of change and fluxx and recognizing these times when so many of our old narratives and systems we’ve relied on for a long time, and even perceptions of who we are that we’ve relied on for a long time are starting to disintegrate.

That there’s an incredible opportunity for each of us to, we might say, marry and the sacred our, our personal relationship to it with how we choose to respond wholeheartedly in these times of change. Because from the perspective of, of my practice and path, if we know that what we are here for is love.

If we’re clear on that simple aspect of human uh, existence, then we recognize everything that occurs in our life as a teacher of love. Two points about that. One, I’m not pointing to love as some kind of pink, always soft. Um, easy love can have both a gentle side and a fierce side, but we know love by how it feels.

It is the field of interconnection and non-separation. So sacred activism is one of the frames in which I teach conscious response to the state of our world because it’s not about saying there’s one path each of us should be following, or one belief system we should each be taking. But that’s, this is a time of knowing what is my medicine here?

What is our medicine together, and being willing and courageous enough to activate it. You with me?

Laura Dawn: Yes. Yes. I absolutely love this. And I want to address and talk about this interesting sort of seeking enlightenment the direction of always trying to. Move towards the light, especially in spiritual communities and especially in medicine communities. And I love that you coined this term in dark and mint.

And so for people who haven’t yet read your book, I would love to. Explore this put a sort of working definition on the table for people listening. And what are we actually talking about here? Are we talking about real light and dark? And what are the metaphorical layers of light and dark that we can explore here?

Eden : Thank you. And for friends listening, bear with us. This is a big topic and so yes, just to unpack it gently, um, first I’ll share that from my experience, both as a Buddhist and someone who has drawn from many wisdom traditions throughout my life. Um, starting with a father who was my first spiritual teacher, and who as a contemplative Christian was generous enough to read to us and teach us from, um, so many different perspectives of Krishna Murti to St.

Francis, to peace pilgrim, to, uh, the Dowdy Chang. And recognizing animism as one of the, um, we might say potent foundations of endarkenment, the recognition that everything is alive, that everything carries consciousness from the trees we engage with every day, to the stones, to light, carrying a consciousness, dark, carrying a consciousness.

And so to answer your, the first part of your question, this book is really inviting an exploration into what has been the impact of human consciousness for so long? Pushing away the dark and holding a superior, the light, and even defining darkness in the dictionary. Merriam Webster, as the absence of light.

What has been the impact, um, on so many different levels? How does that impact us personally? Because it leads us to judge and push away our own shadow and to want to spiritual bypass or, uh, falsely without depth perhaps in our practice, try to grab onto the light, transcend, elevate, and that it leads us to racism and misogyny.

It leads us to interacting with the natural world without reverence for the mystery, but instead trying to categorize everything. There’s so much I could say about this, and then the book speaks to endarkenment as an antidote to this. And you know, I shared in the book that my own pursuit of enlightenment as a young person saved my life.

So I’m not dissing enlightenment, I’m just saying in whatever our spiritual path is, let’s be mature enough to acknowledge all of the ways that this, each of our path may have been impacted by the historical legacy of patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism, a deep disconnect from the natural world. And thus,

there’s been a long habit of humanity pushing away darkness and all that it represents.

So darkness as in. Other forms of knowing more relational forms, of knowing intuition and ways that we work with inner vision rather than what we see as what we get perceiving reality as fixed and set in stone to the ways that we have, uh, deemed as negative difficult emotion, which are just part of the human experience in which we all have the healing heart to be able to work with and alchemize, um, to a way of going back to what we first spoke of, really clinging to story rather than giving ourselves to living in presence and emergence as participants rather than living in a subject object relationship to life. So I’m gonna stop right there, and I haven’t even given the five principles for Endarkenment yet, but I know that was a mouthful. So what comes up for you, Laura, as I share that part,

Laura Dawn: Yeah there’s so much there but i think this salient word that really caught my attention that seems to be at the tip of my awareness right now is this word emergence that you just used and i’m curious what it means to be present to the emergence of reality instead of having this object subject relationship

Eden : Yeah, thank you. Um, sometimes even just in conversation and even in this one right now, it’s a great way to access what we’re talking about from emergence because we’re here together, never having met before.

Without any script, without any plan today, other than seeing what unfolds between us. And so what you and I are both bringing is presence and deep listening. Deep listening in an embodied way I would suggest that allows us to be connected, to feel our connection with one another and to feel our connection to this topic.

And then see as we allow the spaciousness of presence to guide us. Sometimes I talk about it as letting darkness guide us instead of, again, the lamp of knowledge and attainment and getting somewhere like a, if we, as if we had a big agenda today, um, that we let ourselves drop into presence together and we feel the emergence, we feel the unfolding of this conversation.

That’s a, the simplest way to explain it in this moment. Does that resonate with your experience?

Laura Dawn: Yes, absolutely. And it’s worth acknowledging that in every given moment, the human brain is trying to process an enormous amount of information and not just from the outside world. But it’s about training interoceptive awareness, right? Awareness of our inner internal reality, which is also rooted in darkness. And I think connecting more frequently to our interoceptive awareness is a way actually that we can connect to the darkness within us. And I’m curious your perspective on that.

Eden : You’ve got it. We have to go deep down into our earth bodies. We have to, often, when I’m teaching, I invite people to close eyes or soften the gaze in order to go down into interceptive awareness. And we’re learning, and meditation, not learning, that’s the wrong word. We’re remembering our natural, innate capacity for inner connection or this more interoceptive way of being and interconnection our capacity to, uh, feel and be part of the natural intelligence of field consciousness. Um, so inner and enter and what a beautiful thing. And as we navigate the unknown right now and as we navigate some big major challenges and, uh, tragedies, we’re all witnessing, I think we so need greater access to that compass.


Laura Dawn: Absolutely. And I kind of want to go back to my first question and I just feel like rewording it . Are you grieving these times? Are you inspired by these times? Or do you just feel neutral? Like you are really holding that seat of neutrality, a neutral observer of these times

Eden : Thank you. Um, my heart is wide open, uh, to these times, and I believe that we were made for these times. And so what I feel is. One of the teachings of darkness is the absolute need to turn towards rather than away all of our feelings as we navigate the difficulties, uh, the sage as we navigate what we’ve inherited to open , our hearts, to the teacher of grief.

Um, I write a lot about grief in the book as this has been one of my guides to coming to practice and recognizing that, oh my gosh, when we’re turning away from grief or holding it at bay or judging it as too difficult or too much, we’re really missing out on the opportunity to metabolize and to feel together, uh, the depth of feelings that allows us to access tremendous energy, uh, tremendous energy, I believe, with which to serve.

To be of service, to inform how we love to inform, how we show up to inform our actions. So conscious grief is certainly, uh, a part of endarkenment and I guide rituals, um, one of which is called the truth Mandala about feeling our grief for the state of the world we’re living in. And just noticing when we turn away from that, there’s something that gets left out.

Like when we turn away from darkness, we’re turning away from an extraordinary nutrient. Yeah.

Laura Dawn: I love this topic of grief and I want to come back to it. And I think before we go forward, I’d love to ask your perspective on how we got here, how we arrived at a place where we’re so conditioned to turn away from pain and turn away from discomfort. Turn away from the darkness. When actually darkness was a significant part of many different traditions. All over the world

Eden : I share in luminous darkness how there have been wisdom traditions across the globe and still are that recognize the divine darkness, the luminous darkness as a great instigator of spiritual growth and so many traditions from Shinto to Lakota tsu to Buddhism, to, um, Christianity that have, um, ways that darkness retreats are part of practice that have rituals for.

Going into physical and we’ll put physical, metaphorical, symbolic darkness together. ’cause we’ve recognized that everything carries a consciousness. Yeah. Um, and when I was, um, researching this for the book, I thought it was interesting the very first religion that was born that sort of separated into two good versus bad, dark versus light was zoroastrianism. And pretty much after that every religion followed suit like of kind of good, bad, right, wrong and really fed this tendency for the condition mind, the mind of separation to perceive through duality, to perceive, through hierarchical perception, light as superior to dark.

And I think just this question you’ve asked right now could be like the topic for a whole series of conversations. ’cause there’s so much there. But when we look at the, the disconnect from the natural world that occurred, I think first when humanity shifted from really being land-based to a more agriculture based system, the disconnect in how we engage with nature because just for people to consider for a moment, if, part of what I’m pointing to endarkenment is the way in which we perceive as perceiving from wholeness, from direct experience, from welcoming the full spectrum, like the Dao recognizes yin and yang as one, not as, uh, separate. We access that kind of perception when we’re living in a oneness with nature, when we’re not seeing ourselves as separate from nature.

But as soon as we got into a subject object relationship to nature, I think it all started shifting from there. And then of course, patriarchy and I talk in the book about the burning times and the millions of people who were killed. Mostly women, but not all, because they were practicing spiritual pathways that had more to do with, um, body-based, earth-based, relational based, darkness based ways of connecting with the divine.

Does that offer some framework?

Laura Dawn: Yes, absolutely.

And what does the manifestation of the denial of darkness? Look like. In our lives. How does that manifest on a personal level, an emotional level, a physical level. A mental level. How does the denial of darkness show itself what are the ramifications that we’re seeing of that in our lives

Eden : Sure. Yeah. I’ll, I’ll share from my personal experience, and I’d love for listeners to reflect on, you know, how this inquiry translates in your experience.

But for me, um, you know, I grew up in the city of Los Angeles, which I describe as a culture of sun shining. Let’s keep it light, let’s get to the light. Lighten up. Let’s sometimes, um, that can lead to a focus on surface conversations rather than depth. Or avoiding more difficult life experience and emotions.

I grew up in a family of artists and activists, really outside the box free thinkers, uh, which I’m forever grateful for. And when I was, um, young, I had a lot of experiences witnessing the, uh, poly crises of our times, the social inequity and the environmental destruction, uh, through my family’s service work.

My mom’s work was based in skid row and that provided for me the opportunity to grow up seeing that when community comes together to serve, there is nothing more joyful. And simultaneously that what was happening in our world and still is today. The social inequity, the, a lot of it racism based injustice.

Was mind blowing and triggered so much grief to learn to be with as a young person. And I also ended up losing my father, who I was super, super close to at the age of 11. And so both personal grief and pain for our world was present for me. And then I remember looking out and recognizing, gosh, huh, now I feel kind of alone.

’cause no one no seems to know how to meet me in this grief. And I can sense that people want me to move through it as quickly as possible. So I put on a smile. I became, uh, Eden, who was smiling all the time. And, um, that wasn’t my genuine smile. This was a trying to fit in smile, I learned to cope with and repress emotions.

Um, it was incredibly lonely and painful and. Today I recognize with so much love and gratitude, everyone and every pathway that’s been willing to see, uh, grief as a divine portal to us accessing the deeper love that is who we are, and that when we grieve together and consciously, it’s incredibly powerful.

So, I actually can’t remember your initial question, but this is some of how I, how it impacted me with mm-hmm. Pushing away emotions. And also, um, I was always deeply, deeply receptive. Uh, I was an animist even as a child, um, talking with trees and feeling my connectedness with the spirit of nature in a profound way and with the ancestors.

And I kind of learned to hide that and kind of learned that that might get judged. That my receptivity wasn’t going to be as valued as a kind of more young or masculine definition of strength. So I tried to fit in, and anyone who’s listening, who’s tried to fit in, rather than letting the, um, being that you are, the light that is yours to shine your authentic self knows it’s a suffering path.

Yeah. Mm-hmm. Are there ways you can relate with that as well, Laura?

Laura Dawn: Oh, absolutely. In 2018, when the volcano erupted on the big island of Hawaii, where I had been living for a decade. It was truly the manifestation of my worst fears coming. True. And the volcanic eruption really catapulted me into this year, long dark night of the soul. Where i feel like i received a phd in grief that year And it was quite the opportunity to actually put all of my practices to the test. And I would say that over the years, that was one of the core. Teachings that sitting in plant medicine ceremonies had really taught me how to sit in the middle of discomfort without bolting. I mean, it’s really the essence of meditation practice as well. And the Dharma teachings that I’ve primarily been studying through the Shambala lineage through Pema Chodron. And it was a really, it was the most challenging experience of my life. And so I had to learn how to sit and hold my center and open and turn towards the grief. And the pain, even when it felt unbearable. You know so it’s it’s experiences like that that i learned an enormous amount from.

. And I’m also curious to ask you, what was the turning point for you? That really inspired you to pursue and step into seven years a monastic life i mean that’s such a huge commitment was there was there a turning point moment for you

Eden : Yeah, yeah. You know, um, when I was done with high school, I moved across the country as a very sort of, um, Self-righteous need to get away from the society of consumption, uh, young person and at the same time simultaneously um, I got to learn the art of organic farming. We had certainly gardened growing up, but really giving myself to permaculture and ecological design and, uh, devoting myself to daily meditation. I was about 18 and, and just those two were, oh, okay, this is it.

Putting my hands in the earth and committing every single day of my life to reconnecting, to source makes sense in this complex crazy world.

Makes sense in this world where I’m witnessing so much, um, harm being caused through the dominant paradigms belief system. And I had the. Privilege of traveling around the world. At that time, I was studying intentional communities and some of the different ways humans were showing up to live together, um, and to honor the earth.

And I would just say that I had a recognition that, wow, even in this world of visionaries and this world of change, agents, there can be so much ego and ego keeps getting in the way. And in so many communities, I would go and explore. I was like, oh, maybe I need to do more investigation into the human ego and the collective ego, starting with myself.

Um, and I was just deeply, deeply touched by the simplicity, the impeccable distillation that I experienced through zen like drinking, uh, from a fresh crystalline spring and so when I was 26, I, yeah, gave away my belongings and shaved my head and became a Zen Buddhist monastic, and I was there for seven and a half years.

Um, and that was an really important part of my path.

Laura Dawn: Um, thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate hearing. Aspects of your story. And I really resonate with that and there’s a lot of similarities between our paths. When I left home, I gave everything away. I packed a backpack and I left and I never went back. And it was kind of this simultaneous, like running away from myself and towards myself at the same time. And a few years later, I found myself living on land with one of my ex partners. On almost 200 acres in British Columbia. And I had a pretty dysfunctional relationship with my body and food. And to eating. And it was really essentially through my experience of learning how to grow my own food, getting my hands in the dirt. And his family teaching me how to grow my own food, that real shifts and my healing actually started to happen like deeper levels of reconnecting on such a profound level, that it really catalyzed the rest of my life and the rest of my journey. And i was really young at that time so i’m grateful for that experience

Eden : I love what you shared. And you know, I love to remind people of the simplicity that how we treat ourselves and how we treat our world is one of the same.

And so, as you’re saying, learning to care for and attune to your body, which is your earth body with reverence and learning to put hands in the soil, um, these things help us to shift our whole orientation to life, right?

Laura Dawn: Yeah. And I’m curious to know if you. Feel open to sharing um what were some of the manifestations of emotional repression for you and if that’s too private to share that’s okay too

Eden : No, not at all. Um, tender. And yet I love having conversations at any time that invite our tenderness in, and especially that invite transparency around our really difficult human experiences. ’cause I think all, as you know well through your podcast, that’s part of how we heal together. Um, for me, I can relate to what you shared about taking it out on the body, and certainly after my dad passed in those years, I developed a kind of eating disorder for a period of time. And, um, also just a, a kind of resigning to what I would call conditional love. Um, and that means leaving parts of myself out of the circle of acceptance and then projecting that outward onto others or society.

I can show these parts of me, but not the whole, not the full spectrum of light and dark. So I was known as a very much a light, uh, presence in the community. Yet, um, wasn’t letting it all being seen. And when I first moved to the monastery, actually the very first week, and I write about this in the book, I got in touch with a part of me who I named Elektra.

She was, uh, fuming, flaming with anger, with rage. And I had never known her before. I had literally pushed that down, repressed that because how many of us were taught that our anger is not welcome, or that anger is dark and therefore bad. That anger is certainly not the enlightened, uh, person expression.

And it was extraordinary because she wasn’t going anywhere. There’s nowhere to escape at a silent sun Buddhist monastery. So there I was navigating this rageful energy that I had apparently repressed and not known about. And in a meeting with my teacher, you know, she wisely said, You know, I said, there’s so much shame that I’m bringing this here to the monastery.

And she said, this is your beautiful opportunity to finally meet Ekra, to finally turn towards and meet and face your anger, and to be with this anger to befriend this part of you. The path is always about befriending every single aspect, everything on the spectrum, and so I spend time getting to know this anger, and I will share that today I deem anger an incredibly potent and powerful emotion and source of energy, meeting my anger with love, and I recognize it as ancestral anger, as something that was carrying in my d n a from what my ancestors had been through, from what I witnessed in our world, that is an incredibly potent source of compassion and courage and dedication and aeros and creativity.

But if we turn away from it because we’re trying to keep it light, we’re gonna miss out on the alchemical nature of the fire element. You with me? Yes. And I think in today’s world, we really need to know how to work with our fire, so I was grateful for that. Yeah.

Laura Dawn: Okay. So I promise we are going to get to the five principles, exploring the medicine of darkness. Uh, but first this is such a big topic and I feel like what I’m noticing in this sacred activist communities. And I’m curious your perspective on this, but I’m noticing that people are getting angry and they’re calling it sacred rage. It’s ancestral rage. And what I’m noticing is that. It’s sort of like a green card for, I can do whatever I want. And people are very loose with throwing the energy of rage and anger around. And in my perspective, it’s slightly irresponsible and it can actually be harmful. So I really want to speak to this because I am seeing this happen a lot. It’s one thing to hold space for anger and rage and channel it and feel it and turn towards it and alchemize it. But then there’s something else that’s also happening in the sacred activist space that actually feels. Detrimental rather than supportive and beneficial, it feels. Irresponsible is the word that’s coming to mind and i’m just really curious to hear your take on this

Eden : Sure. First, I’ll share from my perspective and experience, um, what you’re talking about points to the degree of ego that we bring to our personal inquiry or not. And so, If I am exploring my anger, but I’m getting identified with it, I’m taking it personally. It’s easy. It’s a slippery slope to bringing ego into it.

And then it’s my anger and I need to put it out onto others or, um, express it in a way that’s not skillful. That’s very different than a compassionate investigation or inquiry that invites me to turn within first to find stillness first and to learn to be with and meet. And I’m going to use this phrase again, turn towards the anger.

This energy, energy, and motion from presence, from stillness in this place. The first layer of the relationship is between, uh, My heart and this anger and me welcoming first perhaps recognizing that if I listen deeply, which is step one to the angry one, to the anger, depending on what language works for you, there’s much through deep listening to receive, to understand what is the need not being met.

For that one, what is underneath, we develop a compassionate relationship with our anger. First, are you with me so far? Mm-hmm. And just as an example, a metaphor I like to use sometimes with anger is like a seashell. Really hard on the outside, but always with anger. Underneath there is something soft, perhaps powerless, perhaps vulnerable.

And so we want to turn towards and develop a friendship with the angry one and with the softness underneath. That’s the first step in transmuting this kind of energy from my perspective. And sometimes people get confused and they think it’s all about how I engage externally with it, but I’m encouraging deep internal work first.

And are you noticing this as well people throwing around anger and calling it sacred sacred rage sacred anger and then saying well it’s okay because it’s sacred is that something that you’re also noticing

Eden : I have witnessed this. Yes. And again, that’s where ego comes into spiritual practice.

That’s my right. Mm-hmm. Um, and I’m grateful to, um, Exist in a community in a Sanga where we practice relational mindfulness. That was the second book that I wrote, which is about deepening our relationship with ourself, each other, our planet. And one of the tenets of understanding is that the practice always begins within with how we’re relating with ourselves.

And, um, I would just share when you were talking, I got kind of an image. I might piss certain people off by saying this, so I apologize. I’m gonna try to do this compassionately, but I’m a devoted dancer. I love dance practice and I say dance practice ’cause dance like meditation. Uh, for me, and I’m sure for many people listening is another form of awareness practice.

Uh, we can dance and I guide my community in dance practice and rituals that hold us accountable to being fully present, to seeing our ego and ego or story or narrative comes in and dropping it to deep listening. These are all aspects of meditation that I consider foundational in letting our bodies guide us in our natural intelligence. And sometimes I notice a little inner critic come in, so I’ll just be transparent about that. We gotta own our critic. When I’m in certain fields of dance, um, I certainly love ecstatic dance, but sometimes I see people misusing it. Just like things like plant medicine could be misused, or any spiritual practice could be where instead it’s about throwing around or expressing in a way that’s not present or in touch, or almost wanting to get rid of our energy.

Almost wanting to shake off our energy instead of fully owning our energy and through deep listening, allowing it to move. So that came up for you, for me, sorry. When you were talking about the kind of misuse of sacred anger or anger and sacred activism that you’ve seen. Mm-hmm. Does that example kind of.


Laura Dawn: Yeah, this is actually something I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately. For example. Authenticity in a centered way is beautiful. It’s vulnerable. But we could use authenticity in a way that’s manipulative. Right? So for me, it’s not about the authenticity or the vulnerability or the anger or any of it. It’s actually about being anchored in centered alignment.

And when I think about that, That notion that concept of centered alignment. To me, it correlates with being in integrity and trying to embody this sense of right relationship.

Laura Dawn: And to me, the practice is about finding that center

and that’s what I feel meditation is really trying to help us with, to find our center, to hold our seat in that center and to embody that sense of balance,

which to me is also what the medicine of embracing both the light and the dark point to.

Eden : You’ve got it. And the first inquiry that I always invite people to bring in their practice of life as meditation is who’s here? Who’s here right now? Through what lens am my perceiving? So when I show up to a conversation, when I sit on the cushion, when I show up to whatever it is to be aware of, is there a part of separate self that I’m identified with of egocentric karmic conditioning?

Like in a conversation, if I’m to inquire who’s here, um, I might notice. I don’t feel this right now, but let’s say we might notice as human beings, oh, someone who wants approval or someone who wants to show off, or someone who wants attention, or someone who wants to look good. We have to be aware of any of those potential agendas so we can drop into the place of non-ag agenda and that’s center the place of mm-hmm.

Simply being present. So I really love that you shared that, and I think we, we could have some fun conversations, Laura, at some point about just the, um, how much this topic you’re pointing to you named authenticity. Vulnerability is stirred in today’s world where a lot of these terms that come from deep spiritual paths are, are now just in everyday life and communication, and sometimes being used in ways that are not true or helpful.

Does that resonate? Experience

Laura Dawn: Absolutely. And everything can kind of be used as, you know, ammunition in some way. And it, it pema chodron and her work. And Chogm Trump’s lineage has had a huge influence on my medicine path. I mean, it’s really, so much of my plant medicine integration has been through the lens of Tibetan Buddhism, so it’s been a, a huge help and an ally for me, this actually makes me think of the eight worldly dharmas that teaching around praise or blame.

You know, it’s like you’re sitting on the, on the pedestal and someone praises you. And it’s also an off-centered feeling of like, Ooh, my ego stroke my ego. Yes. And then if it’s the blame, it’s like, Ooh, that, you know. Curling up and pulling away. And I think it also comes back to the like positive, negative, neutral .

And I’m curious if maybe you could speak to that and learning how to stay centered as an additional layer here to what we’re talking about. Mm-hmm.

Eden : Here’s a way I’d like to talk about it that really relates directly to darkness. So there was a point in my meditation practice and many listeners will resonate as well in theirs, where I recognize I was almost still using meditation as a way of seeking to fill.

We have a collective addiction to filling space, filling our minds, let’s replace, let go of old belief systems, but then fill ourselves with the next one. When we meet someone for a conversation, there’s almost a sense that we need to fill the space. In other words, there’s a lot of avoidance and this has everything to do with spiritual bypassing of emptiness and emptying out of emptiness and emptying out. Just as we talk about darkness as not being the absence of light. And I invite people if darkness were not the absence of light, to really inquire experientially to spend time deep listening in the dark to what is darkness actually on the spiritual path.

I believe there’s a place where everyone, um, in order to move more into spiritual maturity needs to, uh, really notice their fear of emptiness or their resistance towards emptying. And to find out what the fertile emptiness, what the sacred darkness, what the, uh, luminous. Spacious open ground of being gives us, and it doesn’t stroke our ego, it doesn’t feed our ego, it doesn’t give us anything to hold onto.

Uh, it can, before we’ve surrendered to that place at least once, feel terrifying. And then it’s like, oh, okay, this is fertile emptiness. This is the darkness from which everything arises and to which everything will return. So to get practical so I don’t get too philosophical, I talk about in the book how early in my practice there was a real tendency toward the solo heroic spiritual warrior.

I’m gonna attain enlightenment, I’m gonna practice really hard, uh, I’m gonna fill myself with the right books and teachings, you know? And I recognized at some point that it was exactly the opposite. Exactly. It was about learning to do nothing but rest in being. To empty completely, to get bored of ego, not to further philosophize or try to attain understanding, but to drop it and to empty.

And there’s a quote that, um, one teacher of mine shared years ago, very simply, that peace is what’s here when we stop doing everything else. And so we recognize it’s about getting out of the way, emptying. And as soon as we kind of have that understanding, well, number one, we do get much more bored, bored, bored of ego and mm-hmm.

We can see much more clearly when ego wants to come in and try to do our practice. Mm-hmm. You know what I’m pointing to?

Laura Dawn: Yeah. And it’s so interesting to kind of come back full circle to the beginning of our conversation, because in a way that’s actually how I view story and narrative. And it’s like, we can overclaim to story and that’s off center. And it’s detrimental. If we’re rigid in the story. And if we’re too loose around story and narrative in our lives, then that might be actually associated to a certain level of. Mental dis-ease. But if we’re centered in how we. Or maybe I should say balanced in how we relate to story and narrative that it’s like fluid, right? It’s flexible. And the moment we cling to it and concretize it and say, this is truth. The ego comes in and says, you know, I’m going to defend this story. But if we hold story as something that’s helpful, that’s meaningful.

And that’s fluid as also something that

that shifts and evolves as we evolve and not as this is who I am, but this is the story I’m telling myself in a way that feels conducive to living in our world. It’s like, More space around what we’re saying, the stories and the narratives that we hold and what we believe.

Eden : Yeah. So I hear you pointing to the importance of always allowing more space around our experience, our belief systems. We could say our sense of self or this fixed idea of, I so very beautifully put. Yeah. And I like to remind people, you know, we can think of, well, two things I’ll say here. One is, and, and we’re already talking about the five tenets of Endarkenment, so no worries there.

We’re on the right, um, exploration. But first to remind people that, you know, even if we just talk about how conditioned we are to look out and see the world visually through our eyes and our cognitive perception and our tendency toward categorizing and hierarchical perception versus what happens when we rest in darken stillness.

When we rest in the quality of perception that is not seeing this versus that, but that is perceiving the wholeness of everything that is including the full spectrum. There’s a lot that I go into in the book around that and to just remind people that, um, the more we get, I don’t wanna use the word comfortable, um, because I like reminding people to be aware of our comfort zones, but the more we’re willing to practice discomfort resiliency, to turn toward those places that we’ve deemed uncomfortable, dark, unwanted, um, the more we unleash. An incredibly powerful inner light that shines through those opportunities, through those portals that shows us how sturdy and resilient we are.

And it’s just important to remind people of this. Mm-hmm. Um, do you want me to weave what we’re talking about into the five principles for a moment?

Laura Dawn: Yes absolutely that would be great let’s dive in

Eden : Yeah. You know, the, the fifth one we’ve already talked deeply about is really about our willingness to meet all of life with fierce compassion.

Not all welcome the light while I push away the dark. That’s not honoring the potency, the real power that we carry, but to be willing to open our hearts to the full spectrum. So fierce compassion is a big teaching. And the next is about our awakening through embodiment and earth connection. That only by bringing our awareness down into our bodies and affirming our connection with the earth away from the realm of concepts and ideas, do we remember who we really are.

And the next is about the restoration of our ability to see clearly with the heart by surrendering to receptivity, and by taking responsibility for the lens through which we’re perceiving. And I’m not solely referring to the organ of the heart, though it’s an incredibly intelligent relational organ, but the heart of our being, the heart of our being.

And I wonder how many people listening can relate to just a moment when they recognize that there thinking mind had become maybe a center of gravity. And as you’re pointing to so beautifully today, dropping down into center, finding your actual center, okay? Mm-hmm. The next is the reclamation of our true nature or original consciousness by releasing hierarchical perception.

And this is a big theme in the book, all hierarchical thinking is a distortion in consciousness. Um, there is no exception. Hierarchy was invented by humankind. And, uh, has caused great harm in our world. Sometimes people will say, well, no hierarchy exists in nature. The lion has so much more strength than the mouse, right?

Um, so much more power on the food chain. But I like to remind people that the lion does not carry greater intrinsic value than the mouse from clear seeing, from seeing with the heart. We recognize the intrinsic value of everything, of all of life equally. And just one more is the deepening of our relationship with ourselves and others, and our inter communicative relationship with nature, the visible and invisible matrix of life.

And so I talk about multi natural awareness, and again, when we’re willing to spend less time in this relationship with. What I see is what I get and with the thinking mind or labeling mind and more time deep listening, and we can deeply listen in a way that we recognize the entire cosmos is speaking to us all the time.

Um, these pathways reawaken very quickly, and of course, anyone, uh, engaging in plant medicine would have their own, um, experience and wording for how these pathways reawaken you with me? Mm-hmm.

Laura Dawn: Oh yes i am definitely with you And I’d love to get into some practical ways that people can turn towards the darkness and embrace it and sit with the discomfort of the unknown and uncertainty, which is so fundamentally uncomfortable. And as I mentioned earlier, about my experience with the volcanic eruption.

And it was truly the proverbial rug being pulled out from under me. All of a sudden in a heartbeat, the life that I envisioned for myself was no longer a reality. And through that grief through that dark night of the soul. That lasted for the better part of a year. What I learned and what the Buddhist teachings point to is that there really is no ground to stand on. And so much of our. Discomfort and unhappiness. Comes from this. Constant seeking of ground, something to cling onto in a fundamentally impermanent, always changing reality.

And when I followed the grief. Into the depths of suffering. And I stuck with that exploration that there truly is no ground to stand on. It’s really actually a, a practice of making peace with our own death. And with impermanence, what I found on the other side of that was liberation.

And it really taught me that there is a void of darkness that is the fertile ground to plant new seeds of possibility. But there had to be a willingness. I had to actually choose a moment. I remember this moment where it was like, okay, I need to stop grieving and I need to start focusing on what’s possible next in my life. And so i’m really curious to ask you know what have you learned about the fertile ground of the unknown because this is something that you talk about in luminous darkness that i just deeply deeply resonated with

Eden : Yeah. Thank you. Um, well, this is a topic I love so much, and I would share just first to remind us of all the ways that nature models, uh, darkness as an incredibly restorative field and the field of all possibility and creativity to remember that all light arises from darkness, all insight, fresh vision, creativity, and even in nature.

You know, the seeds I have under the dark soil right now in gestation, the mothering shade of a tree and how we are deeply restored in darkened environments. The. Embryo resting in the womb for nine months. It is the absence of light that allows for this important process like the caterpillar and the cocoon.

So to just consider these models as we talk about this, and there’s a particular chapter in the book dedicated to navigating change and sharing stories in my own life of navigating the complete unknown personally. Um, you really felt for what you shared, but for people to first recognize everything has to be navigated with so much compassion because of course, when the ground is pulled out from underneath us, the tendency is to bolt, to assume we’re alone, to, uh, perhaps be fed by stories of fear, false evidence appearing real.

And so to acknowledge how much compassion is needed. As we navigate change, and then to give ourselves to actually being with groundlessness, as you described beautifully, actually surrendering to the empty space, the not knowing there are meditations I offer in luminous darkness on a practical level to invite people to really cultivate a reverence for the unknown.

Those spaces where we cannot see or we cannot see what is coming next, and to surrender to that fertile and the conned field. It is the field from which all new creation emerges, and we cannot go there without compassion. Um, but also courage. Does that touch your own experience too?

Laura Dawn: Yeah. Yeah, it really does. And it also makes me think of the teachings around finding our center and holding our center with a strong back and a soft open front. And i really love that unity of strength and softness at the same time

Eden : Yes. And let’s think about this for a minute too.

Because of the duality in society between dark and light, we tend to hold as superior: the yang, the expressive, the active doing, be productive. We’re way out of balance with the yin, with receptivity, restoration. Deep listening, surrender isn’t that weak. And yet, from the perspective of the spiritual path, receptivity carries a phenomenal power.

It’s the power of remembering that when we do nothing but be but surrender, be with, we remember, I would say who we are beyond the ego’s identification with, I have to control life, I have to manage life. It’s about producing where I’m getting, and we actually remember ourselves as part of the larger whole, as not separate from the living intelligence, the matrix of all of life.

From my perspective. We remember that in the darkness, and then we let ourselves be guided by that matrix, which requires us to not be holding onto ego and what ego’s saying, go faster, do this. But if you step that way, you’ll make the wrong choice. We have to be tapped into a different inner compass.

Right. As I imagine you were, as you let a new vision. Again, let’s use the word emerge. Emerge in your life. And I’m sure that was a very, um, vulnerable feeling and tender process, and then a process of co-creation and partnership with nature where suddenly allies were arising to support you. Visions were coming through.

Your dream world was probably quite alive. It’s, it’s, we have to get out of the way and let go of ego as our guide if we wanna access that. And so if we want to navigate change and the unknown wisely. And I think the last thing I’ll say about that for now, and I’ve had plenty of experience in my own life, I feel like again and again, um, for whatever reason, again and again, I’ve been asked to navigate the complete unknown.

But I would remind us that both in spiritual practice and collectively we’re asked to let go of the familiar shore. The place where we have a fixed sense of I and who I am and control of life to let go and to not yet know or see what the next shore is, where we will land. And it’s all that space in between.

And being present like stroke by stroke, as we swim in the ocean, in the darkness, that’s an incredibly vibrantly alive place to be. Yeah.

Laura Dawn: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that one of the things that I’ve really learned over the years of sitting in plant medicine ceremonies and where, for me, the psychedelic space and the Buddhist teachings really converge. Is that we gain this deeper layer of knowing of understanding that when you peel back the layers, the true nature of reality is fundamentally and permanent. That everything is actually always uncertain all the time. And we make up these stories and these narratives that we like to claim to, to give us. Solid ground to stand on, right. To give us this sense of certainty, which isn’t bad. I mean, we need that. I think as humans. For sanity sake. But when we cultivate that awareness, that the true nature of reality is always uncertain. It’s always changing. Then we actually can cultivate this. Depth of resiliency in the face of change

Eden : Yes, you’ve got it. And that’s why even in sitting meditation, it’s not very practical. Like there’s a first step. Let’s say someone takes on a mindfulness practice where they’re practicing awareness of breath while they’re aware of.

What’s happening in their mind, emotions, sensations. But the point is to become deeply, deeply aware of awareness itself, of the darkness, which is always here. The fertile emptiness, which is always here from which everything arises and passes from which every thought you will ever have arises, every emotion, everything that arises in field consciousness.

And I think maybe that’s one, um, curiosity I have around some of the modern day mindfulness movement that it forgets sometimes to put people deeply in touch with the always existing darkness awareness itself. Does that resonate?

Laura Dawn: Yeah. And there’s of course, different kinds of meditation too, where some people like to meditate with their eyes open or their eyes closed.

I really enjoy a range of different styles of meditation practice and i’m curious to hear your perspective on how you like to practice

Eden : Yeah. Yeah. One of the things that we practice in Zen is soft gaze, softening our gaze. And I share in the book a story about the first time I received that teaching. I was living as a young person at Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center, working on the farm before I became a monastic.

I just made this connection of, oh my gosh, I could practice the soft gaze, literally softening my eyes and their sockets, not looking out in a kind of extractive way or trying to attain something or, but taking everything in softly. I can practice that all of the time. And it started to change my perception and to expand my awareness and just also to make me aware, um, of how much time I had spent, kind of easily distracted by my eye activity, um, by what I was seeing, and therefore categorizing or judging by the notion of how I was being seen.

Um, mm-hmm. Especially today with cell phones and social media, like an eye candy addiction, sometimes that, uh, I wonder mm-hmm. If our culture has, and so yeah, in response to what you asked, whatever supports people in finding the way home, there’s room for my perspective, for the soft gaze, which again, lets us practice meditation wherever we are all the time.

And there’s meditations and rituals where closing the eyes allows us to have a particularly useful experience. Yeah.

Laura Dawn: And do you ever engage in meditation practice as a way of cultivating inner vision? Is that part of your practice at all?

Eden : Yes, I might. Um, Sometimes I like to play with language and think of it as remembering. Mm-hmm. Uh, inner vision.

And the weekly meditation I guide is called remembering the already awakened state. ’cause it’s so easy right. For people to think, oh, this is outside of me, or, and really all of these pathways already exist. And yeah, my personal path is one, uh, that integrates Buddhism and European shamanism animism, uh, in a particular way that, um, has really for me, um, shown me the potency of our earth body as guide and our earth body as a, a very alchemical vessel.


Laura Dawn: Yeah, I’d love to actually ask you about this concept of alchemical transmutation, the mind body as a vessel for transmuting, let’s say grief and pain and suffering. As powerful catalyst for creativity and healing. For something new to emerge. How do you relate to that in your life your being as a vessel for alchemical transmutation

Eden : I love what you just said, and I just wanna acknowledge, you know, for, for people to think about what happens, what we’re pushing down and pushing away. When we turn away from our grief, when we turn away from discomfort, that’s energy that is calling for, uh, connection and deep listening and calling for, um, sometimes I talk about the internal mentor or some other language, compassionate witness.


All energy deserves to be met with a compassionate witness. And transformation occurs when that witnessing happens. So one thing I’m passionate about is relational practices where we’re meditating together in certain ways where we’re just learning to relate through deep listening together. Um, we have to remember that everyday conversation and relationships are not separate from the meditation cushion per se.

Now, back directly to your question, I would go to, there’s so many examples in my own life, but when I was 30 years old and I was a monastic, I woke up one day in what felt like the body of a 90 year old woman. And I didn’t know it, but I had contracted Lyme from a tick bite. Mm-hmm. And so I had many years navigating mysterious and chronic illness about knowing it was Lyme.

It took me some time and. I can say with confidence that, that Lyme exp Lyme was my greatest spiritual teacher. Um, the Spiro completely transformed how I related, but, um, I really had to go deeply into subtle body awareness, deeper than I had to navigate the complexities, just the physical pain, the difficult emotions, the strangeness of what was going on with the body.

And I really got to recognize then clearly through direct experience that with subtle body awareness, I was willing to make listening the starting point, not going in with an agenda, but listening the starting point, and call for allyship, call in compassion, let the energy show me what it needed, whether that was simply stillness.

Or dance or listening or a particular expression or a particular medicine, the energy could say there’s a plant I need. Transmutation is natural for our earth bodies. We are creative, co-creative beings when we’re willing to live in partnership with nature. And I would say a subtle body awareness.

There’s a lot of room for transmuting energy and certainly transmuting. And none of this is ever in the hands of ego. It cannot be, it would not work ever, folks, I just mean, um, in service to healing. Mm-hmm. Does that answer it a bit?

Yeah, absolutely.

Laura Dawn: And when you use this term fierce compassion, is that. Similar, is it a similar way of saying, you know, this.

And when you use this term fierce compassion. Is that a similar way of relating to this notion of strength and softness? You know, strong back, open front. Is that similar for you

Eden : Um, it relates to that, yes, yin and yang. So acknowledging that sometimes compassion is as simple as being with, in stillness, sitting in meditation as an example, or sitting with a friend in need and doing nothing but listening from the soft receptivity of the heart.

And we all know how powerful and potent that is and can be. And sometimes compassion requires a really different expression. I am aware of or being with a part of me who has been completely traumatized. I need to go in as if saving a child from a burning building and take action. I need to go in even though I’m totally terrified and be willing to show up for this person.

I need to use my voice in the relational field on behalf of someone who’s being left out in a way that feels risky, but is fierce love. Do those examples make sense? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I feel like we need access to both in our world today. And sometimes I use the metaphor of, um, one side, a soft open hand of receptivity.

Really nothing to do but be with. And on the other side, the sword ushri sword that cuts through delusion. Like it takes fierce compassion just to observe our thoughts and then be able to say, I’m dropping it. I don’t want this human’s attention to go there. I don’t want to feed that habitat. I’m dropping it.

Mm-hmm. That can require fierce compassion. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Yeah. And it’s interesting. This balance between. Grieving and moving on. Like knowing when we’ve felt it fully for us to then say, okay, I’ve shed every tear I can possibly shed around this event, the situation, whatever it is. And saying, okay, now it’s time to move on with my life.

And I, again, I experienced this in my own life where I was. Having this experience where I felt like every day I was drowning in grief. And then in a way, it almost was becoming a pattern. And so there was a moment where it was like, okay, I need to sit up straight, Grab the box of kleenex and actually focus on what I want to create next. And so I’m curious how you relate to this balance of like, Grieving letting go and then moving on

Eden : Thank you. Um, I think first, a useful inquiry for people, and this isn’t exactly what you were pointing to, but a little bit, is to notice where is it serving healing for me to be with this grief and to notice when might it feed me, identifying with the victim.

Or someone who is wallowing in or milking grief, for instance, I’m someone who’s had a lot of grief in life, and I can say there have been moments in life where I’ve been able to see a little bit of ego developing around that. Almost like this is my grief to milk. Does that make sense? Oh yeah. But something to pay attention to.

So for each of us, there’s no use having a spiritual practice unless we’re willing to bring conscious discernment to it and to take responsibility for our choices each step of the way. And so to notice how we’re relating to grief, to go back to that simple inquiry, who’s here? Is this from presence from center?

I’m allowing all of this to come through and I can feel the healing nature of it, the necessity to metabolize this, or is there actually a grieving one that’s become a safe identity? Or a safe way to block out another choice. And also, sometimes grief really needs to be worked in also with forgiveness, you know?

Mm-hmm. Forgiveness practice is important in relation to our grief. Noticing when there’s self-forgiveness or forgiveness of another or of institutions. Forgiveness can’t be forced, but it can be part of the equation of leaving. Yeah. Yeah. And I’ll just say one more thing,

not taking personally is such an important spiritual teaching to learn how to not take personally. Um, I remember when I moved to the monastery and living in silence, I was like taking personally the way someone was walking down the path towards me. It meant they didn’t like me or a look on someone’s face.

Like I got to see how much. I was conditioned to take personally, and it’s a really beautiful teaching to learn not to. So even when we’re sitting or in whatever form of meditation and the intense, potent energy of grief is coming through, we don’t have to take it personally. We can meet and be with that energy, with great love and respect and reverence without taking it personally.

And that’s subtle folks. I want listeners to know I’m not asking you to diminish things that have personally happened to you, um, or your, your traumas, but I’m asking you to remember that you are not your trauma. It’s a part of your life experience and a part of you. Yeah. Just to clarify that,

Laura Dawn: I really appreciate that, and it’s almost.

It makes me also additionally think of pulling back that layer of the personal narrative and just connecting to the raw energy that is there. That if we put a label on it, ooh, maybe that energy is arousal, but if I put a different story on it, that energy is jealousy, for example. Yes. And so it’s like how do we just pull back like the grief is actually life force that has the power to create as well.

Yeah, I really appreciate that. And it, it makes me think of Pema Chodron’s teaching around, drop the storyline and connect to the raw underlying energy. That’s there. And when we practice that we can just be, it just becomes so. And when we practice that, it becomes very apparent how much the mind influences our emotional experience. We might feel this raw energy, and if we label it as jealousy, for example, it’s very different than if we label it as arousal. But when you drop the narrative and connect with the. Just the raw energy that is moving through you. It’s actually really the same thing what makes it different and what differentiates our experience of it is the label that we give it. Right. And so it’s really looking at how do we pull the layer back the narratives around grief. And loss. And drop that story so that we can actually connect with the underlying energy of it and i think when we do that it’s very liberating

Eden : You’ve got it completely. And I think this is really important ’cause I actually think in a way, the colonizing mind comes into it when we take emotions personally, if we’re willing to recognize I have the capacity to meet energy life force at the most basic level with reverence, respect, and deep listening, I can listen to the message of that energy.

I can honor that energy, I can allow that energy to transmute if it chooses to, but I’m not making it about me. Um, I am, I am really allowing the energy to guide the way. And I just wanna share a little story based on what you just, just noted. ’cause it’s so true. I’m remembering one time in my practice where, um, I was working deeply with anxiety and just noticing how intense when anxiety took over my body and then created a story of like, this is too much.

How am I gonna. Get through this. I have limited choice in how I respond to this. And in this one particular instance when it was triggered really intensely and I dropped into simply being with it as the energy, as the sensations moving through my body, everything changed. And I experienced it, not at all as anxiety, but as a full body orgasm, as a complete, uh, pleasure experience.

Orgasmic, orgasmic. Wow. And that experience was so important for me because it helped me to then bring more curiosity to other labels I was giving, um, certain sensation, energy, physiological experience. Make sense. Yeah. Oh yeah,

Laura Dawn: yeah. And I think right now the topic of privilege is very alive for a lot of people in our culture, which is I think, helpful and worth naming here that there’s some people that might listen to this and think, wow, I don’t have the space to cultivate, um, meditation practice. I’m just trying to survive.

I’m just trying to hold down two jobs right now. And i’m curious how do you speak to that person

Eden : Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for presencing that. And, um, it’s so important. And throughout Luminous Darkness, my aspiration was to bring awareness to the fact that I, the writer, um, I’m both white skinned and, um, someone living with privilege in ways that others do not, uh, have access to.

And I think what I wanna offer here is two things. One, that darkness and light are elemental forces, like the, the basic foundation of human existence. That even when we go to sleep at night, this can be an opportunity. Historically was the opportunity. We haven’t had electricity and even fire until really recently in human history.

So humans tended to spend a lot of time in darkness. Our ancestors did. How we relate to that is our choice, and it’s a choice that doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Um, mm-hmm. The privilege to step outside of the dominant paradigm, in other words, to say I need to create a little more space for meditation is, uh, a really pot issue.

In today’s world. Not everyone has the privilege of slowing down enough, even to calm the nervous system and get back to center. And at the same time, what we’re talking about ultimately is, uh, spiritual sovereignty or the choice that every one of us has in every moment to. Recognize the, um, fluidity of existence.

We talk about it in the book as the, the waking dream, rather than looking out through the lens that says reality is fixed and set in stone. And folks, that doesn’t have to take a lot of time to cultivate that remembrance. It doesn’t have to take a lot of resources to cultivate that remembrance. It doesn’t have to take a ability to go away on retreat for a long time to cultivate that.

It, I’m talking about human fundamental experience and um, I just wanna pause and see if there’s anything else around that. Yeah, I wanna name the overlighting of our planet Earth. We’re, we’re going through a crisis, and for many people, health crises now because sleep has been so collectively disrupted because many people are not even sleeping deep enough to, uh, enter their dream states.

Because we have, in the past 50 years, fed the overlighting of planet Earth in a way that’s, um, causing harm to animal species, plant species, fungi, the human world, on and on. And so we need to recognize the global inequity that comes from the duality of light was dark. And we all need to be aware, anyone who’s offering or practicing spiritual practices of inclusivity versus exclusivity, so that this does not continue as it is in some places.

To be something that is becoming more and more elite. You with me?

Laura Dawn: Yeah yeah can you say more about inclusivity versus exclusivity what does that mean what does that look like

Eden : Sure. Well, that’s a whole other podcast in itself, but, um, yes.

I talk in the book a lot about inclusivity and exclusivity because for me, the whole paradigm of a conditioned world that has been created, a perception lens where light is superior to dark. We could pick any domain of human life and see the exclusivity that has come from that. It’s mind blowing.

It’s shocking, it’s horrifying. Uh, I’m a white woman and I’ve still been impacted by it in lesser ways though than my half brother who’s black skinned and lived for 25 years in prison for something he didn’t do. So not going in that direction right now. I’ll just name that. As someone who is a Dharma teacher, I’m very aware that there are, whenever human beings create communities or create social fields, it’s useful to be mindful of how this duality may be playing out and of how, um, perception lenses we’ve, that have been passed down to us may be, uh, Fueling the field.

So when I was a monastic, even in this extraordinary spiritual community, there was still a belief system that being a monastic was higher than superior to being, not being a lay person. There is, in historically in Buddhism, a duality that says being a male is more useful than being a female. And in fact, there are crazy, crazy, crazy stories about what women have had to do throughout history in order to gain entrance to the temple.

Um, there are stories today about. Things being priced so high that only the elite can come to particular practices. I’m feeling a little tired right now, so I’m not coming up with the best examples, but I hope my passion is coming through at least that we just have to be aware that as human beings, we’re a weird bunch, and if we don’t pay subtle attention to inclusivity, we’re gonna create exclusive fields.

We’re really weird that way. It’s because of the light and dark duality and how much it’s seeped in our history.

Laura Dawn: Yeah.

. If there were just a couple of practices. You mentioned, you know, taking time to close your eyes just a few seconds to connect with the darkness within maybe turning off the lights at night and even making a ritual around that. Anything else that you could offer our listeners for practical tips as a way of turning towards and reconnecting with the medicine of darkness

Eden : Yeah. Yeah. I love, um, for people to remember the restorative invitation of the evening of the night in my house. We turn off lights and we. Light candles and, okay, I don’t live in California anymore. So yeah, we can do that a little more safely where I am. But just to note, there are ways to honor the night, ways to encourage the restoration of the night.

Instead of now I’m gonna just be glued to more bright lights. Um, I talk to young people who are on their devices until 1:00 AM right, and also to pause throughout the day. And maybe this is an opportunity to close the eyes and to just remember that alongside everything that we see visually and that his, uh, arisen from dependent co arising is this backdrop of darkness, of consciousness, of the unformed, the unseen of all possibility.

If all of us could remember that more palpably in our day-to-day, it’s like remembering the. Invitation to dream on behalf of life more fully remembering that we have choice where we are being told through the condition mind that we don’t, there’s a lot of examples in the book of meditations people can do.

Mm-hmm. So pick up the book or now we’ve got an audio version. Yes. And you know, this fall is when fall Equinox starts. I’m offering a six week immersion through the Berry Center for Buddhist studies. So there’s plenty of opportunity. And this is a path we walk with compassion. Um, some of us carry fear of the dark, fear of the night.

So compassion is the way we move through this. Yeah. Yeah. Hmm.

Yes. Thank you so much for emphasizing the need to foster compassion. We are in a culture where we’re just so hard on ourselves and compassion is good medicine for these times. And thank you so much, Eden for just everything that you do, all of your teachings, just so deeply resonate with me. And it’s been such a joy to drop in with you

Eden : I so enjoyed this conversation and I love that we can. Keep it down to earth and go into really deep places and speak from our personal experience. So may this be a benefit to those listening and thank you so much, Laura.

Bye-bye for now.

Hi friends. Thank you so much for tuning into another episode of the psychedelic leadership podcast. If you enjoyed this conversation with Eden, I would so appreciate it. If you could take a moment to leave me a review on iTunes. And Spotify and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Especially since I’m not releasing an episode every single week on a regular schedule,

I’m releasing them. At a pace that feels good for my nervous system.

If you feel called to join me in September for transilient a six month training program for psychedelic coaches. Microdosing mentors and integration guides to learn a framework to support people on the path of psychedelic transformation. Then please go to Laura Dawn dot. Co forward slash transience. And you can also access that link in the show notes. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out@supportatlauradawn.co or connect with me on Instagram at live free. Laura D

where I’m posting daily stories about my life here in Costa Rica.

All right friends. That’s all from me for today. Once again, my name is Laura Dawn and you’re listening to the psychedelic leadership podcast. Until next time

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About Laura Dawn

Through her signature Mastermind Programs and Plant Medicine Retreats, Laura Dawn weaves together science with ancient wisdom. She teaches business and thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation, fostering emotional resiliency and unlocking new depths to our creative potential.