Sunday, May 10, 2020

Embracing the shadow

It is very challenging to work with shadow on our own as it is difficult to perceive. If we’re able to see it clearly, it is not shadow, but something else.

Usually, the Other is required to reflect it back to us, but just what this “Other” is is a mystery and must be revealed to us in the fire of our own direct experience. Another person, an image, an inner figure, a color, the moon, the sea, an animal-friend. The Other is all around, dancing and playing and never giving up on its quest to reach us, to remind us, to open a portal within soul.

Even though “shadow work” is talked about periodically, the actual work itself is not very popular, which is understandable. It is difficult, painful, and humbling, and requires a requisite level of ego-strength to approach, a base-level of resourcing in one’s neural net to engage in uncovering, otherwise it will overwhelm a fragile structure.

But more than that requires the willingness to enter into our own unacknowledged narcissism, unmet grief, undigested pain, unmetabolized self-absorption, and the entirety of our unlived lives. To let go of the fantasy that we “don’t have a shadow” or that we’ve “completed” some mythical journey where the unconscious is no longer operative.

Those hidden parts of ourselves, emotions, impulses, and beliefs that we’re not able to access, articulate, and integrate don’t just go away because they’ve fallen out of awareness. They will find their way back, especially in relationship with those that we’ve allowed to matter to us.

We find this shadowed material in another person or out in the world, evoking it in them, projecting it onto them, enacting it within the relational field… locating it outside ourselves so that we can be in relationship with it at a safe distance. We long for reunion with these soul parts and pieces, but not in such a direct way… otherwise the house of cards could tumble.

Tending to this material with curiosity, consciousness, and compassion is the activity of love, work that we do not just for ourselves, but for all life, everywhere. For the ancestors and the ones yet to come. For the stars, the trees, the oceans, and for the earth herself.

Art by Enrique Lopez Garre

My new online course - The Path of the Wounded Healer - starts on May 19 

My new book - A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times - is now available for pre-order at Amazon and will be published by Sounds True in November. 

We've decided to leave our monthly online community, Befriending Yourself, open for enrollment during these uncertain and challenging times. For more information, please visit the course page here