Emotionally-sensitive, somatically-grounded, cognitively flexible inner work is unique to each nervous system. We must discover for ourselves the most skillful, effective, and compassionate ways to bring illumination into body, psyche, and heart. No one can do this for us. The journey is individual by nature, requiring experiential, primary experience; a collective spirituality is not going to be subtle, nuanced, or creative enough to meet the longing raging within.
It is difficult to work with and integrate shadow on our own as by definition it dwells outside conscious awareness. In this sense it requires an “other” to hold and reveal projection, where surges of the visitor can be co-regulated, in very small doses, titrating and pendulating emerging feeling states by way of the relational field itself. To “borrow” another’s soothed, calm nervous system as we enter into uncharted territory.
The way of direct revelation and embodied, experiential discovery is not the easy way. It is not the path of five-steps to empowerment, manifestation, or thinking our way into permanent happiness, abundance, and bliss. It is a humble journey, heart wrenching at times, as we will inevitably be asked to compassionately confront the disowned selves that surge for reunion.
The goal is not to become dependent upon another in an unhealthy way, but over time to learn the art of self-regulation and be able to shift wisely, skillfully, and compassionately between the two. This is the hallmark of secure attachment: the capacity to care deeply for ourselves while at the same time allowing the other to matter, building resources within us which are rich with skillful self-compassion while also turning to others to co-regulate difficult states of experience.
Slow way down. Ground into the earth and open into the heavens. Ask a guide to bear witness as you move into unknown territory, honoring the truth that reorganization requires an immense outpouring of courage and support. Find a therapist, lover, mentor, or friend; a tree, a bird, a mountain, or dog; the sky, the sun, the stars, or the moon. A God or Goddess, wise inner figure, or being of light. Allow your symptoms to merge into these protectors and enter into dialogue, practicing intimacy with the inner material, but without fusing with it.
It is unlikely we’ll ever fully understand or resolve the mystery of self and other, of separation and union, of sun and moon. But we can break open into the questions together, as beginners, as amateurs, and as servants of the mystery.
My latest book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available
The Path is Everywhere: A Weekend Intensive, June 15-18 in Loveland, Colorado