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There is No Dark, Only Less Light

October 30, 2020

Darkness grows as it heads toward the threshold of winter and 2020 continues to give us cause to wistfully look back to a time when life was a whole lot “lighter.” I’m reminded of a half-dozen autumns ago when I met Don Mariano Quispe Flores, a Peruvian healer and elder wisdom teacher. Our paths crossed during a rare visit to the U.S. from his village home high in the Andes. Through an interpreter who translated his native Q’echua to English, Don Mariano shared a single statement that forever changed my understanding of the definitions of dark and light.

While I’d been in intensive study and practice of energy (light) medicine and related nature teachings for well over a decade, I’d missed a similar kind of memo issued by a former teacher, maybe because it was presented in less succinct terms. Or perhaps I’d simply not been paying close enough attention then or as far back as physics class in school. If I had I might have received the message decades sooner:

There is no dark, only less light.
The impact Don Mariano’s statement had on me was dramatic. I remember my awareness going from a two-position on/off perspective to an inclusive circular point of view. It happened in the flick of a switch, pun intended. It was like the symbolic difference between a common light switch and a dimmer. The dimmer can be pushed on and off to produce bright light or remove it altogether. But if you turn a dimmer to the left or right, a fuller spectrum of possibilities becomes present.

To others listening that day, it may have seemed a benign detail unworthy of attention. To me, it explained much about approaches to healing and living a vital life. Over time, it inspired me to take apart and reconstruct a more inclusive foundation underlying my world and changed the way I offered work to others who were seeking freedom from circumstances they experienced as dark and oppressive.

I remember Sandy, a gifted coach working with corporate executives, who came to see me shortly after my illuminating event with Don Mariano. She was in the midst of grieving the loss of her mentor to breast cancer. While Sandy’s heart ached and her teacher’s light literally faded in death, she also felt more inspired and driven than ever to shine brightly, wanting so much to carry forward the valuable legacy of her mentor whom Sandy considered to be an illuminated soul. She wanted to explore ways to up-level her impact on others and become a world-class coach.

Sandy went on to tell me that she often found herself the brightest bulb in the room when she trained groups or teams. Her words didn’t ring of pompousness. Sandy carried a palpably positive disposition and full tool belt from years of experience and hard work that produced results. She was simply noticing a difference that made her a kind of elder in her own right.

We sat facing each other with a lit candle on the ottoman between us. Thinking of the wisdom Don Mariano passed on to me, I looked around the room and spotted a smooth black stone and placed it alongside the flickering votive glass, in order to bring the contrast between light and dark directly in front of us. I asked Sandy a couple of questions.

“If you were having surgery, would you want the operating room to lean more toward bright light or dim?”

And, “Which would you prefer if you were sharing a romantic dinner for two with your fiancé?”

The questions eventually led Sandy to consider how her own preference for bright light might be blinding her to the value of the dim. By the time she left my office, she had experienced a leap in insight about herself, her mentor, and those who were her protegés in business. The next time Sandy walked into an executive coaching session, she carried the conscious awareness of the value of dialing down her own metaphoric dimmer switch, so as to afford others the space and opportunity to shine more brightly too. A small detail created a huge ripple in her professional world.

November and December are critical months of the year where nature seasonally reflects the dim. From the autumn midpoint at Halloween to the winter solstice, the darkening light can feel oppressive and heavy to some. Events and circumstances can do the same, especially during this unprecedented year of 2020.

Perhaps if we loosen ourselves from our attachment to polarized views and discover the lean in between (without abandoning the valued extremes), loving the dim will bring to light refreshed insights that can help us find resilience during the darkest and most challenging of times. What a great way to prepare for the turn of a new cycle and the December holidays, which celebrate the return of lengthening light!

Pat Heavren is a life coach, mediator, and educator who is passionate about supporting individuals, couples and groups to flourish by aligning with the wisdom of the natural world. She is the author of Magic in Plain Sight: When Acceptance is the Healing and is former senior teaching faculty with the Four Winds Society, an international school of neo-shamanism and energy medicine. Pat has led workshops across the U.S., Canada and Latin America and works worldwide with clients via telephone and Zoom from her Woodbridge, CT, office.
She can be reached at: and 203.444.4424 for appointments.