The Practice of Wholeness: Finding Gold in Our Shadows

I've been diving deep into working on integrating my shadow stuff so that I can better align my life with my soul's purpose and while this work can be exciting it's also super challenging!  One thing I often find is that when I make a move in a new direction, I find resistance popping up pulling me in the opposite direction.  Any kind of growth and change in life is going to challenge the parts of us that are comfortably fine living in the hell that we know rather than risking the adventures awaiting us that we don't yet know.

All parts of us don't grow up at the same time or the same speed. Our Math education may be stuck in fifth grade while our English education got a Master's Degree.  Or we may find we prefer to adult in logical mode and avoid all those feelings that are unresolved from our childhood.  Where we have made a past attempt at growth and been wounded, we are at risk of stagnation, depression or loss of soul.  It's scary to revisit those raw or unknown places and in our culture we don't really like to talk much about what's really going on inside.  But the outside is inside and the inside is outside--so we can't really avoid it either.  Our life is a mirror.  

The good news is that our wounds have the potential to become the vehicles for our soul.  Our wounds are doors to the divine, if we are willing to sit with that which is uncomfortable and offer it compassion instead of shaming it away, denying, disassociating, blaming, running away in addictions or busy work.

Once I realized that this heavy persistent nagging in my heart, or the anxious thoughts in my head or the scary figures in my dreams were actually pieces of my soul begging to be integrated into my life, I started to get more curious and less scared.  I put on my Nancy Drew hat and began to unravel the mystery.  Each time I made a discovery, new life, vitality and energy would unlock within my body and I would experience a healing.

Many of us are forced to make Faustian deals with the devil.  People tell us: you can't make money doing what you love, so we decide to spend our lives doing what we hate to make money.  Or we believe we are unlovable so we settle in a relationship and give up the hope of true love for some kind of stability.  Or we can hardly stand our own vulnerability so we unconsciously hold extra weight in our body that just won't shed no matter how much we exercise or diet.  It may scare us to feel powerless, so we hide behind powerful masks so we can avoid facing our own fear of smallness.  When strong emotions strike out of the blue, the shadow is rearing it's head and asking us to look and see what is at the center.  Carl Jung calls this a "complex".  Usually it's those things we can't own in ourselves that come back to haunt us and ask us: are you really going to disown this part of yourself?  Our shadow contains a piece of gold, that aspect of divine that we have not yet been able to integrate into our consciousness.

Yoga is a practice of wholeness.  Doing the postures (or the asanas) is a part of yoga.  The whole of yoga is you--all of you--welcomed home to the great banqueting table.  So next time you are gripped by a complex, do something different than avoiding.  Offer the uncomfortable a cup of coffee, a pen, a few minutes of silence and see if you can also offer it some compassion.  See if you can discover the gold behind the dread, the peace waiting to be found behind the fear.  Whatever arises--offer it love-- for that is also you.  

I've picked a presidential candidate that's easy for me to loathe.  Instead of allowing myself to get stuck in all my worries, I have been contemplating how, yes, I too could be easily blinded by the promise of total power where I could wall myself off from any relationships that make me uncomfortable.  I have felt those deep insecurities before too.  That's me too.  We are not so different my enemies and I.  Given the right circumstances all of us are capable of acting like all people act.  So when you find yourself thinking: I would NEVER do that!  Imagine how given the right circumstances you actually might.  Once enough of us understand that, the love and compassion we are able to cultivate for our neighbors and ourselves will transform the world and bring about the spiritual evolution we are longing for.

The work begins within.  All are welcome.  All parts of self are invited to feast at the soul's table.