Monday, November 16, 2020

Working with the shadow and the lost pieces of the soul

Dear friends, 

We've just opened enrollment for our new teaching module on working with the shadow and the lost pieces of the soul. Exploring an embodied, trauma-sensitive approach to spirituality and healing. Learn more about this module and our Befriending Yourself online community

As open, sensitive human beings, we’re all going to be met with unwanted and difficult experience at times - things like disappointment, sadness, uncertainty, and grief. These and other related states - melancholy, deflation, heartbreak, and longing - are often dismissed on the spiritual path or seen as evidence that we have failed or done life “wrong.”

We all learned to turn away from parts of ourselves and experiences that didn’t always fit in. In order to protect ourselves and stay safe, we sent these parts away, into the underworld of the psyche, or what is often referred to as “the shadow.” 

The shadow contains not only the so-called “negative” aspects of our experience – that which we want to get rid of – but also “positive” experiences such as joy, intimacy, connection, and a sense of feeling alive. In ways that might seem paradoxical, these too can be disowned and can fall out of reach. 

While it was intelligent, creative, and adaptive to disembody and locate certain experiences outside our conscious awareness, these very human, valid, and essential parts of ourselves continue to look for us, and leak out in our bodies, dreams, relationships, moods, and thoughts. The process of integration or wholeness asks that we turn back toward these ones and provide a home or sanctuary in which they can return to the larger ecology of what we are, warmed at the fire of our own presence, mercy, and kindness. 

There is sacred information contained within the shadow and the lost pieces, and they can in fact be powerful doorways to deeper self-awareness, compassion, connection, and aliveness. But how do we mine the gold in the darkness? 

Through meditation, healing inquiry, and an embodied, trauma-sensitive approach where we “start exactly where we are,” we will navigate this full-spectrum territory together, and open to the healing potential in embracing the shadow. 

There’s a lot of talk out there about what shadow work is and what it isn’t - and what it actually means in our embodied, lived experience. We are offering this module - which will include psychological, existential, neurobiological, poetic, and spiritual perspectives - as a way for all of us to come together to explore this very important - and often neglected - area of spirituality and healing. 

Over the next three months, we’ll explore: 

- The healing potential within difficult experience such as grief, disappointment, heartbreak, and loss 

- The power of our vulnerability and how it can be a portal to a deeper experience of aliveness and connection 

- Unraveling the cultural (and spiritual) trance of “being happy all the time” and the wisdom in our native melancholy and sensitivity 

- The poetic beauty of “not-knowing” and seeing through the fantasy that we’re always supposed to know what to do with our lives 

- The tenderness of a broken heart and its deepest longing not to be “healed,” but to be held 

Especially as we head into the winter months (for most of us, anyway) it seems an appropriate time to gather together, in a way that is both safe and challenging, to explore the beauty and mercy in the darkness, as it unfolds within the natural world as well as within our bodies, hearts, and souls. And to discover, together, the light that is found only there.

We look forward to getting started with our first live session on Thursday, December 3rd and would love to have you join us. 

Image by Yakup Ipek 

My new book - A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times - is now available at Amazon, Sounds True, and wherever you buy books. You can read a sample and editorial reviews at Amazon