We all have a shadow. We all have things about ourselves that we hide, cast off, ignore, are ashamed of or don’t want or let other people know about us. These things are our shadow selves. We cast them into the shadow world and try to be a whole person without these things. The problem is, you are a whole person, but you can only truly be whole when you embrace the whole you and the whole you lives in the shadow world, just as it lives in the light.
To many of us, embracing our shadow selves is scary. The imagery of shadow itself is dark and foreboding. Everything bad is in the dark. But lets take a wider view of the shadow world. What positives have you cast into the shadows? What parts of you that are good have you set aside, because of culture, family, pier pressure, or societal norms? Artistic ability? Talents? Personal identities? Dreams, hopes and aspirations? Political views that are not the norm for your family? Not everything that lives in the shadow is dark scary and bad. In fact before we embrace our shadow selves we need to revisit this whole view of good and bad.
You see, we live in a living, breathing, dynamic, awake and aware universe. In the New Thought ideology we say that in this awake and alive universe there is only one power and presence, and it is good. You can call this power, spirit, God, Allah, Mother, Father, the Universe, doorknob (for those that have been through a 12 step program) or whatever you need. Just think of one power and one presence and it is good. Now think of yourself. You are a creation, a child of this one presence, therefore you are inherently good as well. You may believe this part or not. That is OK. That is fine. Not all spiritual path follow this route, stay with me here for a bit.
So the one presence in our lives is good and we are a creation of this presence so we therefore are good. Now take that to the next step. It’s all good. There is just good. Dark and light, shadow and sun, these things are just perceptions of how things are, they aren’t the truth of how things are. They are perceptions of how things are, not the truth of how things are.
There is a lot more to it and a lot of questions that come with that. I can write more fully on the New Thought path later if you would like but lets bring this back to our shadow world. If we are children of an ever present good, and that makes us inherently good, and the shadow world is truly part of who we are, then the shadow is not bad. The shadow world too, is good. In fact we can take a big bold step and drop the good and the bad and say, The universe is, I am, and the shadow world is apart of me and part of the universe, so, it simply is. If we take the good and the bad out of it and just simply let everything be, then stepping into the shadow world isn’t scary or foreboding. It just is. And if the shadow world simply is and the light simply is then there is not separation between the shadow world and the light. And if there is no separation between the shadow and the light then there is just the light. The shadow world is an illusion.
The shadow world is an illusion created to separate from us the part of us that society, culture, other people, we ourselves, have deemed to be less desirable, unclean, incomplete. So if we can look at our shadow world and take it out of the shadow and drag it back into the light, if we can own it, we can be whole, we can be complete, then we can be the person hat we truly hoped we could be, because we aren’t denying that which is part of us. We take control over things in our life that can challenge us. When we own all of who and what we are, we are the control. When we surrender, when we cast off, we also surrender control. We give that which we cast off, power.
When we accept and embrace every facet of the wonderful, beautiful being of love and light that is our human self, we gain power. We gain understanding. We gain control. Yesterday, I had a very challenging time. I have taken a break from the work I do as a volunteer at my Unity center but my wife hasn’t. I still go with her and just hang out and be present, Sometimes I go to the adult service. Sometimes I hang out in the nursery. Sometimes I sit in the fellowship hall and write or meditate. My wife and I also spend quite a bit of time after services in fellowship with our good friend and Youth Education Director. As it was getting closer to the end of services, I began what would become about a two hour anxiety attack. It was weird and strong and different than other attacks that I have experienced. We did not stay because I wasn’t feeling well and shortly after we arrived home the attack and anxiety had reached a level that was so strong that I was completely non-functional. I was a giant hot mess.
Now what is important to say at this point is that for many years we tried to keep my health issues low key. We didn’t want to scare people and we had even been told by some of our spiritual leaders to “hide” them and avoid talking about them because we were so involved in what was happening in our community that image was important. We have since abandoned that nonsense and embrace that fact that there are mental illnesses that make up the person that is me. We also talk more openly to each other about what is going on with me and have reached an amazing level of understanding and compassion between the diagnosed person and that person that has to deal with the diagnosed person. My wife has reached an amazing level of support and I have reached an amazing level of support and understanding of how my illness affects her.
So here we are in our room, I am curled up on the bed and she simply sits. Occasionally she rests her hand on my shoulder but mostly she just sits. I can usually work out what is happening and get through and out of these attacks in short order but this is going on close to two hours and I am in deep. I catch my breath and look at her and tell her, “I can’t get out of this one. I need your help. I don’t know what that looks like, but I need it.” She starts talking. She brings me into the moment and make me concentrate on just being present then she starts asking me questions and brings me through the time line up to the point that I started feeling weird and she helps me find the trigger and we get me out of that space, together. We come out of this “bad” experience with a new stronger understanding of what happened. We come out of it with growth. My wife had been in my head in a way that she hasn’t been before and we are both stronger and more aware, more present to this facet of who Jason is. This wasn’t a “bad” experience. It was just an experience. It was an experience that brought us closer together.
Now, if we hadn’t come to grips with the fact that these things are a part of who Jason is, if we had not accepted this “bad thing” into our life then we would have had a much tougher time dealing with what went down. We accept and embrace that this happens to me and we grow. My anxiety isn’t good or bad, it just is. My bipolar disorder isn’t good or bad. It isn’t something to be ashamed of or to hide. It simply is.
When we accept and embrace the things in our life that we have placed in the shadow and pull them back into the life, our life become more whole, more vibrant, more alive because we eliminate separation. We eliminate separation from spirit, from the universe. That separation is what drives us to believe we are less than worthy, less than good, less than whole. When we pull non-separation we pull towards a life, a world, a universe, full of hope, full of love, and full of gratitude.
This is true for all parts of the shadow world. It is all part of the light. It is all there to make us whole. It is all there to make us thrive. It is all us. We are all part of the universe, the whole. It is all the universe. It just is. It isn’t easy to accept a whole self, but the rewards are a deeper understanding of who we are and how we fit into a dynamic thriving, loving universe.
Take time to get to know the parts of you that have been living in the shadow world. This may take assistance from others if your shadow world is big, but it is worth it to be whole again. It is worth it to stand in the light.