Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Emissaries of the sacred world
I am often asked how to make contact with the shadow, with those disowned and abandoned aspects of ourselves that we have lost touch with. At times, we sense that they are so near, but it can feel as if they are coming at us from the outside. As we practice turning back toward them, however – holding them as orphaned pieces of our own hearts – we discover that they are special emissaries of the sacred world, filled with energy and information for the journey ahead.
If we are not able to be in a conscious and kind relationship with these parts, they will express themselves unconsciously – as symptoms, emotions, feelings, bodily sensations, and as the vivid display of the “others” that come into our lives. They will take form in infinite ways, even as the colors in the sky, as the trees, as the wind, longing to find you and be re-integrated into the vastness. They will not give up. They love you too much to do that.
There are a number of ways of accessing this material. One of the most revealing is by asking yourself who in your life triggers you the most? Who is it that, just by being themselves, pushes your buttons, catalyzes an eruption of rage, annoys you, irritates you, and leaves you fuming?
Once you identify this person, you can then look carefully – slowly, gently, and with a new sort of self-kindness and curiosity – and see what it is about them that triggers you so intensely. Specifically, what qualities in them activate and hook you into that burning, claustrophobic, seething discomfort?
One of the really creative things about the psyche is that we tend to attract others into our lives who embody exactly those qualities that we have disowned in ourselves. How annoying. How amazing.
Those qualities that repulse, trigger, or hook you are representatives of those parts that you have sequestered into the shadow, that you have left outside the door of your heart, and to this day actively (though unconsciously) keep out of awareness through avoidant activity of all kinds. From this perspective, anxiety (or groundlessness) is the warning or heads up (mindfulness bell) that material which is usually kept unconscious is longing to erupt into conscious awareness. Not to work against you, but to remind you of how whole you are. And of how alive it is here.
You can count on those around you to relentlessly remind you of what you have disowned in yourself, if you keep your eyes and your heart open, and make the commitment to know what is true more than anything. More than feeling good, more than appearing spiritual, more than being “awakened” and invulnerable, more than being happy all the time, and more than needing to keep up the appearance that you always have it all together.
You can make a commitment that each time you find yourself irritated, annoyed, triggered, inflamed, and all hot and bothered that you will stay close. You will get really curious and not abandon yourself. And that with calm, regulated, attuned presence you will cut into billions of moments of fight-flight abandonment of the unbearably creative field of the here and now.
Yes, it can be so fucking annoying. But these are your true teachers, pure wisdom guides sent from beyond, to remind you of wholeness. To serve as your tour guide into the sacred world. And for this they are worthy of honor and gratitude. How irritating. How utterly precious. How very human.
There is never an end to the path of the heart. There is no final, safe landing place, no mythical fairytale of “awakening,” no completion, no resolution. Only endless unfolding. Your heart is endless. There is nothing any more sacred than that.
Art by Cameron Gray