Have you ever wondered why you became afraid of the dark? Who told you that not seeing was scary? How did you find out that not knowing was a source of concern?
Psychologists say that the onset of night fear in humans seems to begin at about age 2 and its active stage lasts until 8 or 9 years of age.
As to the culprit, scientist say that given that toddlers spend their waking hours in active imagination mode; their minds are incapable of discerning fiction from reality while at rest. What they are exposed to, fuels their playtime and their dreamtime.
We are keenly aware of the huge role that technology plays in our lives. Fascinated by fast moving images, colorful back-lit screens are in our pockets, and giant televisions are prominently installed in our living rooms and even in bedrooms to, as one client stated, “make it easier to fall asleep and hear the news when I get up in the morning”.
Actually, technology seals in our minds the validity of our fears, and wrecks havoc in our dreamtime.
And, did any of you hear that if you didn’t behave the boogeyman would get you? The various versions of this seemingly light-hearted discipline, embedded in a simple phrase can instill a terrifying case of nighttime anxiety in a young overactive mind and serves to reinforce what children hear and view during the daytime.
So when a bleary-eyed and tired parent tries to convince kids that there are no monsters under the bed, and that they aren’t going to be trapped forever in the dark of the night, children are not convinced. It doesn’t match the stories they hear and are illustrated with images of unlikable, giant voracious spiders capable of doing untold harm to children.
And in the body language of trusted grown-ups, they feel unsafe and in need of protection:
They learn Fear.
While adults provided night lights, “blankies” and teddy bears to help calm our toddler’s insecurities; most of us were never guided to play with our fears and find that they were the product of our malleable mind.
We did not learn that we could look in the dark and playfully engage, or that darkness gives us chances to dream.
Primal fear was applied to all the life situations we were unfamiliar with, including mistrusting our dreams.
Now, fear of the unknown forces us to always seek light not matter what the clock shows. Night lighting interferes with circadian rhythms and hampers our ability to see the wonders of the sky, while vivid images on an ever-present back-lit screen show us examples of those, who under the cover of dark, behave badly and are real boogeyman coming to get us.
Our adult “blankies” and teddy bears became attachments to stimulants, relationships, material goods and false gods.
Embracing fear instead, invites us to turn the light of awareness inward, so we can discern if there is truth in how we perceive a particular incident. Looking within to see if the 2-year old’s active imagination is still counseling us to give our power away to the dark; we can acknowledge the fear, express gratefulness at the opportunity to consider the situation and decide to turn the mind into an ally.
Meditation is the tool I most successfully use to train my mind to be in neutral gear. It is what teaches me to practice awareness so I can dwell in the truth of here and now. And I turn to painting in order to play, engaging my imagination in exploring even the darkest recesses of my mind with the same zeal I used when I was 2 years old.
On the canvas, colors, shapes and textures fearlessly present opportunities to travel far, while brushes and other implements unleash the powerful light of awareness that helps me transform erroneous thoughts, feelings and emotions into playful fireflies that empower and illuminate my path.
My playtime is child-like, not childish.
The painting here invites us to playfully explore the darkness knowing that the only giant voracious spiders lurking in the closet will disappear with The Light of Awareness turned on, bringing the mind into present tense as adults, trusting our dreams and acknowledging that a bright sunshine and a dark moon are equally necessary to lead meaningful and empowered lives. Click on New Painting to purchase the original or blessed limited edition prints and fearlessly embrace the night as a child.