Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spiritual Practices: Shadow

To honor and accept one's own shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. 
— Robert A. Johnson 

Shadows

It is odd to think of a spiritual practice in terms of our shadow; yet, it is one of the aspects of life is ignored and set aside.  We all have a shadow aspect within our being.  Just as we can practice wholeness, loving, and being humble we can do practice the shadow in our anger, pride, and selfishness.  All of the experiences we have that cause us embarrassment, to feel less than and well up anger are part of our shadow side.  Again, why would we wish to practice such?
When we deny any aspect of ourselves, we deny our sacredness.  Acknowledging that we have flaws we embrace our entire being.  It is a taking responsibility for our actions, while practicing forgiveness and compassion.  It creates wholeness within.

Many times we see in the world around us and have to pause to ask why?  I don’t understand.  Many times in the name of spiritual beliefs people do things we cannot begin to understand.  We must see this in a different way, just as we had a shadow within, so too does all.  Many times in that darkness of the soul things are said and acted upon that are projecting negative aspects of self into the world.  Just as we would wish for forgiveness, understanding, and compassion – we must strive to extend the same to others.

This spiritual practice is a unity of all we are within – accepting it and loving that we are not perfect.   When we are approaching our own self as being in duality (light and dark) it causes us to live in the shadow of perception; allowing us to judge others on their journeys for not fitting into our own perceptions.

In truth, we are extensions of one another ad when we can begin to integrate both that which is shadow and light we can let go of the judgment of others.  The judgment causes the internal struggle and it creates the imbalance.  The shadow is really just the opposite of light.  They stand apart but cannot exist without one another.  When we embrace our true selves we create unity from the duality to transform ourselves and our reality into a peaceful and harmonious state.

Practice:  When you find yourself judging another, pause and ask what within your own shadow is appearing.  Jealousy – ask yourself what is lacking within me that is causing the jealousy.  Judgment – ask yourself what is the fear within that is causing the judgment?   Asking yourself what within is out of balance is embracing the shadow within in order to acknowledge our own short comings.  Perhaps not perfect, but sacred.

Only in love are unity and duality not in conflict.” 
- Rabindranath Tagore