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Joshua Smith

Learning to Lean into the Shadow

 

We’re in the depths of winter. February is a month when we have Valentine’s day, a little moment to bring light in the heavier months that beckon us to spend much more time indoors, out of the cold (well, at least if you’re in the north!). Winter is symbolic of a time when we’re beckoned into the indoor world of our own mind.

In that internal space, we can often find cobwebs and points of confrontation that cause us to shut down the processing happening  – processing that will allow for a prosperous spring season. We feel uncomfortable, and so we go do something that takes us out of the realization that there may be a shadow or two within us hiding a precious gem of our own uniqueness. And if I’ve learned anything about the shadow….it’s that we MUST embrace it because on the other side, there is magic.

Over the last several years, I have leaned deeply into shadow work, and can say that it is some of the most powerful work we have before us to engage with.

Below I have shared reflections from my go-to teachers and colleagues on how they view the shadow, how they work through the shadow, and how they use the shadow to shine and live in a deeper, brighter and more empowered way.

Grab a blank journal or piece of paper, a cup of tea, and get ready to dive in!

From Kira Saundra –

Founder/Curator of the Panther Process – to learn more about Kira, click here.

“Our Shadows are what we deny ourselves, what we repress. It’s not just the perceived negative emotions; it’s also the gifts we can’t yet embrace due to our belief systems. These can be a result of family conditioning, Life, the bloodline, past lives, Soul contracts*, diet, decisions, etc etc.

We operate from the whopping 90-95% decision-making subconscious brain. If we aren’t digging in there to find out what we don’t know we don’t know, we are operating from the Shadow. Jung called us all “little volcanos about to burst” with all of our projections. The chakras provide an insightful schematic into where these hidden emotions are lurking and tools to work with them. When they are either stagnant or fluid, excessive or depleted, it affects our entire landscape, even the shape of the physical body. By integrating these systems and schools of thought we have a full comprehensive methodology to party with all that is the beauty of us.

So many spiritual teachings are about letting go, releasing attachment. You can’t let go of what you don’t know is there. The desired nature is still craving resolution. So…FEEL IT. Embrace it all and live fully. Drop in. Taste it. Give it permission to pulse through your veins. We never know the outcome, that is the scary part—letting go of control with no guarantee of what it looks like on the other side. We have to literally dissolve and digest old versions of the Self and surrender.

Give your Shadows the same energy and welcoming you do the rest of your emotional landscape and watch how they provide you with more Love than you could possibly imagine….

An exercise from Kira:

1. Write down something you want or something you are working on that there is a struggle or tension. Perhaps it never quite fits, or it’s out of your reach, or there’s a block behind it. It can be an immediate goal or a lifelong objective (ex: a new job, want to have children).

2. Then, write down the worst things that could happen if you don’t get it. (ex: If I don’t get the job, I will be broke, my marriage will suffer, I will have to move, the industry doesn’t want me, I’m not qualified, I’m not good enough, etc).

3. Now dig deeper. This requires you getting raw, honest, and authentic with yourself. (The bottom Fears lead to belief systems that are subconsciously ruling your choices.)There is always a gift to not getting what you want, and it often reinforces these systems too.

4. Write down the gifts. (Example: I’m not good enough. If I’m not good enough it gives me an excuse to stay small. If I stay small then I don’t have to be vulnerable and that feels safer. Therefore, not being good enough still serves me). When we can recognize them, the dots will start to connect to other facets of our life, and give us the pathway of where we can begin our Shadow work.

 

From Linsey Rae:

Lindsey Rae is a cheerleader of emotional depth – to learn more about Lindsey click here.

The shadow is a playground for toxic shame and a catalyst for the deepest level of self-acceptance. By honoring and acknowledging all the parts of us that dwell in our shadow, we broaden our capacity to tolerate the human experience. Shadow work requires inner courage and strength because it is a beautifully painful struggle with self.

However, the work will inevitably provide unequivocal support from the depths of your being that you have yet to meet but yearn to know. Participation in the process increases comfortability with the mystery of life and the chaos of uncertainty that lives in that mystery. Diving into our personal and collective shadow allows space for healing at the deepest levels.  I believe doing shadow work can ground us in the purest essence of our humanity.

From Danielle:

Danielle Mercurio is a Meditation Guide, Astrologist, and Confidence coach – to learn more about Danielle, click here!

The shadow is the often the side of us that is deemed as wrong or broken, however it also can be looked to as the place inside of us that is ready to learn and grow.

When we are met with hardship or an old pattern shows up, we have a choice. We can fall victim to the unfairness and the trouble it brings or we can rise up and be curious so as to see the opportunity that may come of it all.

To do this, I advise engaging with the shadow side of yourself in the form of questions, you may ask:

-What are you trying to show me?

– Is there a fear you’re attached to?

-Why do you have power over me?

Take pen to paper and intuitively write out what comes through. Feel free to ask your own questions.

Following, ask your shadow if it’s ready to be set free.  Let it know that it’s safe to transform to the light. Envision the energy of the shadow moving through a tunnel and into the light. Continue to practice until you feel a sense of release.

Understand that for all of our shadow sides there is a light that is waiting on the other side. By fully participating in the shadow process, we can evolve into the more open and light bearing side of our being.

From Sarah:

Sarah is a deep listener, writer, and teacher of Kundalini Yoga & Meditation – to learn more about Sarah, click here!

Wandering through deep valleys and into the darkest corners of the caves of my own internal existence, I have found that what so many told me to fear, told me to medicate, told me to be concerned about – these dark, still caverns holding the culmination of sorrow, and despair, and pain from the collection of moments I had previously met – were, in fact, the entry points into the greatest moments of truth, the deepest revelations of my aliveness & resilience, and the most powerful anchors of unwavering self trust.

Had I not listened to the quiet and still voice within, the voice guiding me toward all that the world of positivity told me I should “fix,” had I not listened, I would have never found the ever illumined light within me that can glow in even the deepest moments of cold despair. I would have never found, for myself, the ability to dance with fear, having walked straight into its arms, and learned its got great moves. The courage it took to walk into the darkness of my shadow is ultimately what has allowed me to breathe life into the story that beats from deep within the folds of my heart. Prior – I had been numb, and avoiding the very existence of feeling and connection I craved.

Obviously, we want to embark on these journeys with support & conscious awareness. Having applied the technology of Kundalini Yoga & Meditation as taught by Yogi Bhajan as well as the metaphysical mind training & self study of A Course in Miracles, I can highly recommend these systems because they WORK. In their arms, you cannot fall into victim roles, and are supported deeply in honest self reflection, self correction, and self liberation.

 

We would love to hear from you in the comments below….what’s a one or two word summary of your relationship with your shadow?

Blue skies,

Josh

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