Today, I’d like to briefly discuss the nature of our shadow. The shadow emerges as a quality of self. The self here represents the illusion of separateness; a tree casts an individual shadow, yet the tree’s “self” could not exist without the whole of nature supporting it; and a tree is akin to one cell in the being we call a forest.
Carl Jung uses the term “shadow” to exemplify those parts of yourself that are active in you personality, yet, you remain unconscious of them and how they influence your relationships. For example, an introvert has an extroverted shadow; they can’t achieve balance and conscious awareness of themselves until they balance introversion and extroversion, or vice versa.
The shadow is also the product of the essential nature of the created universe, in which the yin (dark, cold and solid) meets yang (light, hot, expansive); if there were no-thing there, there would be no shadow.
Our bodies are a composition of yin~yang relationships (tai-chi) at every level, all the way up to and including mind. We need light to live, enliven, move, and create experience. We need yin to have something to move and experience with. If you consider that your body is a collection of cells, each of which is embodied by a membrane that embodies what is largely water, you can conceive that too much yang (fire) energy has the potential to destroy the delicate balance that affords life. Too much yin energy and we become stagnant and essentially collapse into ourselves. From the very beginning of the formation of our body, our cells perceive their environment largely through vibration; imagine the membrane of a cell as akin to a drum skin; too must force will break the skin and music is no longer possible – we become disconnected to the flow of life.
Inevitably, we feel the vibrations in us that emerge from around us. The most profound source of vibration (communication and connection) is our mother. She is the vehicle of conveyance through which we come to know our father and our family. In utero, we begin experiencing and preparing for our birth into the outer environment, which we must survive if we are to live. Initially, a child is relatively defenseless against forceful intrusion, be it by voice, or physical intrusion, or otherwise, we reach the point out of which our survival instincts seek to defend, just the same way your pet dog will only take so much abuse before it shows its teeth.
This is the principle of like-repels-like; two north poles of a magnet repel each other. If the dog showing it’s teeth, or biting back repels an intruder, not only does it’s chances of survival increase, the intruder has an opportunity to live and learn not to do that again; next time the dog may maim or kill them in self-defense! The “shadow” is beneficially composed then, of the memory of how we used like-repels-like to survive.
The shadow becomes disabling once we loose consciousness as to when we are projecting past threats onto those in front of us, or into the future. If this occurs, we become like a pet dog that wants to show it’s teeth to, and even bite everyone that approaches; soon enough, someone gets hurt and the dog must be put down for the safety of all. In relationships, this shows up quite quickly as people that seem to like or care for you not being available or even “around when you are around”. They know they can’t take that junk-yard dog!
To begin the process of healing our shadow, we must begin paying close attention – become aware of when we are shadow-dancing. By simply looking at our judgments of others, we can become aware as to the fact that we are likely to be seeing ourselves in them. Through conscious, willing awareness, and being open to feedback from those we trust and respect, we can begin the process of recognizing which types of painful experiences seem to trigger us most often, and then track back through our own life history to see if we can identify the earliest such events that may have resulted in developing a shadow behavior to increase survivability. Once you find the event, which I show how to do through the use of a life mandala in PPS Lesson 1., we are then given the opportunity to stop projecting and become present with what is actually happening, being communicated, and what is authentically being offered us in each such relationship.
As we heal our shadow, we inevitably see that life is, and has been beautiful all along.
Our shadow, like a good pair of sunglasses, has just darkened the experience too much for us to navigate effectively. Once we know that, we can take our sunglasses off so we can see. Rest assured, they will find their natural resting spot any time your life is truly endangered!
Enjoy the journey of healing the shadow-dance. I’m there with you myself every day!
Love and chi,