How does it land for you when someone says ‘Everything is perfect!?” Does it really ring true? These days in our ‘New Age’ we hear these words more and more. But for those who have known the shadow the phrase may raise more questions than peace of mind!
There is much focus on ecstasy these days, peak experiences which open our hearts and minds to the unknown. Self proclaimed Goddesses and Gods abound. There is an established belief system that should I fill my life with the positive there will be no room for its opposite. If I fill my life with light, then the shadow cannot exist.
Let us be compassionate with ourselves, but let us also be true. The shadow is there, and it will follow us wherever we go.
Ceremonies, therapies and rituals abound with plant medicines, breathwork, cacao and sound. They may be wonderful opportunities to embrace the light, to bring rapture into our daily life. But what about the dark side? The one we effort to avoid?
Our culture has taught us to turn away from what darkens our inner landscape. We have developed sophisticated coping systems to avoid it, a new religion of acquiescence that frowns upon the truth being told. Behavioral psychology, as efficient as it may be, can only ever be half the solution, and it’s by working with the shadow instead of running away from it (what a funny thought) we can achieve the deepest healing in ourselves and provide a true point of reference for others. This is especially essential for those who work as healing practitioners, for we cannot claim authenticity unless we are prepared to acknowledge and work with our own shadows.
The shadow has enormous power, and unless we make friends with it the power gets compressed – like in a pressure cooker. As time passes the pressure increases, until what may seem an insignificant act will ‘trigger’ us. It may be a comment or a criticism, or the behavior of another which touches us deeply, and ignites what we have been hiding from. Our reaction may be explosive as we are confronted – not by the act of another, but by all the things about ourselves we have been avoiding. It can be quite overwhelming, and we may be horrified afterwards to have over-reacted in such a way.
So what can be done? We can begin to open to our shadow. We can ask it questions, and show that we are interested to know more. It takes courage to turn towards something you think might be chasing you. But if you can, you will be surprised that it is not that bad at all. Perhaps you have heard the example of being chased by a herd of buffalo. If you keep running they will overtake and trample you under foot. But if you stand still and strong they will part their ways so as not to hit you.
It is empowering to befriend the shadow as it contains so much energy that can be transformed When the darkness in us (“Hello darkness my old friend?”) is recognized it becomes a resource and a strength. It supports our determination, resoluteness and staying-power.
It also rounds out our character, and instead of seeking to be a God or a Goddess, we can accept who we are completely, and become more tolerant of others as our compassion for ourselves and the challenges of the human condition grows.
How do we open to our shadow? Try a writing exercise! Before you begin your day, ask permission of your mind to re-member with the things you may have forgotten. Then breathe conscious, connected breaths through the mouth for 10 minutes (set a timer). As you breathe, visualize your journey as an expedition into the past, visiting yourself between the ages of 0 and 7. Stay alert to messages or signs and feelings in your body. Don’t analyze, just watch and stay present.
After your session, take 20 minutes and write about your childhood – anything that comes. It doesn’t have to be dark and dirty, just an opening into realms that you may have forgotten or cast aside. Let your fingers lead the mind. Let the writing come through you, not from you. Don’t think about what you are writing, just continue and don’t stop for the full 20 minutes.
Start with the first 7 years of your life on day 1 of this practice. What happened? Carry this inquiry with you through your day. Ask members of your family, your parents or relatives if they have stories about you that you may have forgotten. Let them know you are interested to learn more about what your life was like. At the end of the day revisit your morning journal entry and add anything new that has been revealed.
On day 2 of the practice, bring you focus to your life between ages 7 and 14, on day 3 ages 14-21, and so on, in increments of 7 years. This is a BIG exercise and you do not need to do it in consecutive days; instead I would recommend you choose one morning a week to work through this exercise, and allow yourself the days in between to reflect and integrate.
You can get started with the Fear to Fierce Grace here: https://alchemyofbreath.com/product/quantum-shift-fear-to-fierce-grace-3-day-mini-course-copy/