23 May 2012

Why the Shadow Needs Love Not Fear to Come Into the Light

Embracing the Shadow, A Journey Toward Wholeness
There's an old story usually attributed to a Native American elder, that's meant to illuminate the power of attention.

A grandfather, imparting a life lesson to his grandson tells him, "I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is vengeful, fearful, envious, resentful, deceitful. The other wolf is loving, compassionate, generous, truthful and serene."

The grandson asks which wolf will win the fight. The grandfather answers, "The one I feed."

Which wolf do you feed?

This is a vital question to ask. Certainly, we'd like to say, "I feed the loving, compassion, serene wolf." You might even set a series of intentions: I am love. I am compassion. I am serenity." It feels as if the intentions are working. You feel more centered, calmer. Until something happens and your buttons get pushed. Without a moment's notice, the dark, angry, self-loathing wolf comes out with jaws snapping and claws extended. Your best intentions vanish. You are back to feeding the dark wolf aka your shadow, with a vengeance. 

Shine the light of awareness on your own dark wolf aka your Shadow.
As human beings, we are a mixture of light and dark. The light is there; it doesn't need to be offered the compassion, calm, generosity, love that it already is. Rather the light waits with patience and loving kindness for the shadows to be returned. This is why we do far better by turning our awareness on our shadow.

How do we do this when we have spent years so many years hiding our shadow that we have forgotten it is even there? The first step is to stop denying the shadow and the negative, angry, fearful emotions it holds. Denying the shadow only makes it stronger. The second stop to begin a practice of shedding the light of awareness on the shadow.

Stop playing the blame game.
Don't blame others for your problems.
Don't blame yourself for your problems.
Don't blame your shadow.
Don't make deals with your shadow.
Don't try to defeat your shadow.

In his exploration of the human shadow, Deepak Chopra says, "The  first step  in defeating the shadow is to abandon all notions of defeating it.... As soon as you talk about “winning”, you have lost already. You have been dragged into the duality of good and evil. Once that happens, nothing can end the duality. Good has no power to defeat its opposite once and for all."

What is the answer then? First and foremost is to claim both your shadow and your light.  Deepak Chopra suggests a mantra, which works brilliantly if you use it consistently over time.

Claiming the Shadow, A Key to Wholeness"I see you, I claim you, you are mine."
This simple manta, I have found, is a golden key to the journey into wholeness. The beauty of it is that you don't have to like your shadow. And you don't need to psychoanalyze your self or the situation. All you need to do is, with awareness, put some light around the situation and say the words, I see you, I claim you, you are mine.

This simple, non-reactive claiming of the shadow as being a part of you works wonders. In time, you will have compassion and ultimately love for that frightened, shamed part of you that burst forth with all the vengeful, fearful, envious, resentful, deceitful emotions of the dark wolf in the grandfather's story.

Whenever you feel negativity, it is your shadow at work.
Whenever you become aware of negativity, small or large, step back from the situation and acknowledge that your shadow is work. Offer your mantra as many times as you like. I see you, I claim you, you are mine. Even if you are so completely in the grips of the shadow that awareness is impossible, don't feel like a failure. This happens to all of us. Remember, it is never too late to shine the light of awareness on the situation. It can be minutes, hours, even days later that you realize you were overwhelmed by your shadow. What do you do then?

First, congratulate yourself for that awareness. The you offer the mantra: I see you. I claim you. You are mine. In time you will move into compassion. In time you will look with kindness on the wounded parts of you and say, " How angry I was. How hurt I was. Poor dark wolf. I see you, I claim you, you are mine. And I love you."

In  future postings I plan to go more deeply into the Shadow. If you want to see what I have already posted, go to "Search" and put in the word "shadow". 

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  1. Emily.
    This spoke to my life, these days.
    It is good advise.
    Thanks for the thoughtful musing!


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