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Contrast and Perception: Finding the end & seeing a new beginning

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

From the healing hands of Sarah Misson

Even after we arrive we need to still keep going.
Phote credit Nate Arnold

Neil deGrasse Tyson mentioned in his recent book about Astrophysics that everything we have ever discovered about the Universe was possible because of the contrast between the presence of light and the lack of the presence of light (darkness). Magically, I connected to this fact about the Universe around the same time as having my awesome conversation with Catie from the ConsciousCatie YouTube channel. Right at the end of our chat, she mentioned the value of contrast and that thought, of Contrast, stood out to me like it was its own vast universe of opportunity for learning and leaning into personal growth.

So here we are in December, with the Piece of Wellness focused on Contrast!

contrast of yin and yang working together
Yin Yang symbol

These are my first thoughts that come to mind when I think about Contrast and personal growth:

Chinese Medicine and how much it values contrast. It is represented by the Yin and Yang symbol, the perfect representation of contrast.

I'm reminded of duality.

I'm reminded of the Tao and how it is everything but it is also nothing.

I am reminded of winter, the coming season of darkness and quiet, and how it will be followed by summer, the season of excessive sunlight and bursts of life.

I am reminded of emotions. and how contrast in emotions is such a valuable experience.

Staying with this last one for a little bit I'd love to talk more about the contrast with emotions and the usefulness of some negative emotions.My favorite one to talk about are jealousy, longing, and sadness. These are examples of reactions to experiences that we have. Molecules of emotion, or hormones, that are based on a stimulus from our environment. Positive or negative. Our perception and our response or reaction. That lesson (emotion) of jealousy is this experience of contrast between what I have and what I want. This should be very short-lived and take us over that proverbial bridge of jealousy so we can arrive on the other side of the bridge and find the story of what we want. We have a contrasting experience that leads us and gives us direction as well. This helps us identify what it is that we want.

When we have the emotion of longing it's very much the same. There's something that we want and it's in the not-having-it-experience that reminds us of what want. I hear so many stories of comparing life in 2019 to life in any of the years that follow (i.e. 2020!). I think above all the contrast to those stories from one year to the next, is finding awareness of what we value most. This is an invitation to have gratitude for those things, invite them in, and create them in your life as best you can so you can celebrate them. Grow those experiences that you long for. Don't grow the longing!

I'm adding the emotion of sadness to this story because I think it fits in with the theme of jealousy and longing because it's about what we don't have. Sadness is a bigger experience though, at least in my opinion, because sadness is an inside job and not necessarily a short bridge with a quick lesson on the other side. Sadness does have a strong value wrapped up in the experience of it. In my opinion, it is the process of healing the heart. It is its own journey down a memory lane that reminds us of love. The experience of love has infinite energy whether you're giving it or whether you're receiving it. It is self-nourishing and it lives forever. Sadness is about love and it is also about the "thing" that connects our love and our memories. Even when that thing is not there anymore we will forever have our love and will forever have our memories. They become more valuable but until the sadness is cleared they might only feel painful.

So how do we process that sadness? That answer of course is going to be different for everyone. Both the how and the how long are going to depend on what we are growing and where our attention is going. Maybe you can imagine sadness as a cloud that shows up and blocks out a light that used to shine in our life. It can help quiet the stimulation around us so we can notice more of our internal environment. What if this shroud is also here to help us find our own light.? When we have the challenging days and the dark moments it is easier to find the little Sparks of Hope and love and life inside of us... if we are looking. That concept of sadness being the cloud that creates a contrast for us to find light within might help us see the value of the experience. This offers a chance for the struggle to give us strength and to avoid the struggle turning into suffering. Suffering can drain us. Suffering invites the cloud to set in and then it can become a fog that we cannot navigate through and we can lose our direction. Things look scarier in the fog. All light is more difficult to perceive in a fog. I have for a long time described depression as a fog that can sometimes lift, sometimes give us glimpses of life around us, sometimes be thicker or thinner, and sometimes swallow us in a way no one can see us unless they're very very close... but even then... the fog might keep everyone moving very very slowly. My thoughts with this fog of depression is to remember that it is a cloud and it belongs up in the sky. What tools do you need to find a light, find direction, find support to hold you while you find yourself? What reminders can you hold to remind yourself that the fog is the fog and you are you and the fog is not you... it is just around you at this moment.

When we overcome those emotions and large experiences it is much easier to see that we are separate from the emotions and the experiences.

What if we spend some effort and invite in the awareness that the fog is real... and the fog makes it hard... and the fog can be burned off with patients and the belief in the Sun, or God, or some greatness and brightness and warmth on the other side of the fog. What if we spend some time focusing on the value of inner light and the ability to find it in the darkness even if it's just a small ember?

I love the reminder that I tell myself and I tell others:

if it feels hard for you that means it's hard for you and that's where the story ends.

It doesn't matter who did what with ease or with more stress. It didn't feel hard for them and that doesn't mean it doesn't feel hard for you. We all have our own needs we all have our own limits we all have our own stories, our own baggage, our own fog, and our own light. Recognizing all of these pieces of the puzzle we also recognize all of our pieces of wellness and healing and hurting and growing.

Those dark days can remind us how valuable the brighter days are and give us that direction of the experiences in the feelings that we want. A bright, sunshiny, beautiful day can be more appreciated after a moment the darkness. The symbol of the yin and the yang expresses balance and it shows the light and the dark contrast as well as the very valuable compliment of each in the other. There is a dot of white in the black and a dot of black in the white. Not only do we need to have the big experience of the dark and the big experience of the light we also have the memories and the wisdom of the light when we're in the dark and the memories and the wisdom of the dark when we're in the light.


In loving memory of Farmer Bill. I am so grateful to have had a chance to have heard you say over and over "that's my Sarah" because you were very much my Farmer Bill. There is contrast in my days that remind me how much I enjoyed our time together and this new experience without you grows my love through the love of my memories. Forever and ever, thank you!

Offering You Endless Love & Gratitude!

~ Sarah

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