The Shadow

August 25, 2013

shadow
I ran into Shadow quite unexpectedly the other day….and you know the rest of the story: I got to thinking.

Carl Jung came up with the idea of archetypes years ago. In college it was considered cool to know about Jungian psychology and try to piece together the puzzle of our personal archetypes.

First things first: I am not trained in any of this. I just think about it, and write my thoughts down.

Jungian Archetypes explained courtesy of Wikipedia:

” Carl Gustav Jung was a psychiatrist and psychotherapist who developed an understanding of archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures. Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behavior, images, art, myths, religions, or dreams. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world.”

Jung defined twelve primary types that symbolize basic human motivations. Each type has its own set of values, meanings and personality traits. The twelve types are found in four basic groups: The Shadow, The Anima, The Animus, and The Self.

http://changingminds.org/explanations/identity/jung_archetypes.htm

Today I’m bringing Shadow out into the light.

The Shadow refers to the whole of unconscious—everything that we are unaware of, the aspect of our personality that does not recognize itself. All those parts of ourselves that we feel are negative, undesirable and that we try to ignore or reject, are wrapped up in Shadow’s cloak. Almost overlooked however, are the good qualities hiding there too. They become weakened by low self esteem, self doubt. They too are lost in the folds of Shadow.

The Jungian shadow often refers to all that lies outside the light of consciousness, and may be positive or negative. “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive instincts.”

(*What are our primitive instincts? To survive?…how do we protect ourselves by empowering one aspect while perhaps closing off or ignoring another? What other of these primitive instincts can you identify with?)

Shadow likes to project. Shadow is instinctive and irrational. “Shadow uses projection to turn a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. If we allow Shadow to project these thoughts unrecognized and unchecked, then Shadow has a free hand to possibly bring about a “realization of its object” and give this situation character power…..it creates a thick fog of illusion between the EGO and the real world…” You/we give power to something that is a projection and is not real.  (Wikipedia)

As a Jungian Archetype, Shadow is made up of life instincts. “The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings. This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos and the unknown. These latent dispositions are present in all of us, Jung believed, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it onto others.”

Sometimes Shadow makes itself known in our dreams. Shadow may appear as a snake, a monster, or other dark or wild figure.

From Robert Augustus Masters, PhD:

Shadow is whatever in us we are disconnected from or out of touch with, whatever we have disowned in ourselves, whatever we have not illuminated or will not illuminate in ourselves, whatever in us we are keeping out of sight.

So our shadow is that zone of us which houses what we have not faced or can’t/ won’t face about ourselves. To the extent that our conditioning (especially that originating in our childhood) is allowed to run us, it is our shadow. Or put another way, to the extent that our conditioning is kept in the dark, it is our shadow.

If we are to truly evolve, we need to know our shadow, and know it very well; if we don’t, our shadow will direct our lives on every level.

So what can we do to bring Shadow out from the dark? How do we get to know Shadow?

First you have to recognize Shadow, and this hard. What is it in others you dislike? Is that Shadow projecting something about you onto another? What are your self doubts, fears?

How can you identify core wounds and heal them?

Are you able to work effectively with your feelings of anger, shame, fear, and guilt?

Are you able to step back and pause in order to see how your Shadow affects those around you.

Are you able to “be one with your pain” and ease your hurt and suffering by doing so?

Can you effectively stop the mind chatter that is the loudest critic of you?

Do you have a spiritual base? Anything? Organized religion or not?

For some meditation or guided practices may help.

Shadow, the part of us we cannot “see” is often the part of us that makes the decisions. And sometimes within those decisions, Shadow makes the same mistakes over and over again. We have to reclaim Shadow and understand Shadow.

Obviously, if this speaks to you, it is not a quick fix. Shadow holds the reigns on a large reservoir of energy. Somehow we have to tap into this.

Curious? The link below has some interesting thoughts. I’m not endorsing him, just introducing an idea to you. I have not read or listened to this person’s work other than this podcast.

http://learni.st/learnings/206576-robert-augustus-masters-what-is-the-shadow-sounds-true-podcast

“The big step is to turn towards what we are running away from” Robert Masters

 

 

Cenotes Into Ourselves

August 18, 2013

Warning!! This post might be a stretch!!

A little while ago I wrote about ecotones. “Ecotone” means a  transition area between two biomes. An ecotone is where two communities meet and integrate. I tried to relate it to our personal experiences in life and self discovery.

Today we move onto “cenotes”!! A cenote is  is a natural phenomenon, a sinkhole in the Earth’s surface.  Found in Mexico and the Caribbean, a cetone is primarily made up of porous limestone. Over millions of years, rainfall slowly eats away at the limestone and a huge system of underground caves and caverns is formed. Many are filled with water from rain or from the underground water table. When the roof of a water filled cave collapses, a cenote is born. The water found in a cenote may be fresh water, salt water, or both. Structurally it may be completely open, like a lake, almost completely closed with just a small opening at the top, or somewhere in between.

In the Mayan language “ts’onot” means sacred well. Cenotes were the main source of fresh water for the ancient Mayan civilization. Mayans believed the cenotes contained curative elements and considered many of them to be sacred. They also believed cenotes to be portals to the spirit world and a way to communicate with the gods. Some cenotes were the site of Mayan sacrifices.

cenotes google images

(google images)

Now we have the definition and history. Here comes my twist.

For those of us on a quest of some sort, to find our “true” self, to quiet the ego, to discover what is hidden within us, we often find ourselves slowly peeling away layers of our outward self to find our inner self. Not unlike the the rain slowly dissolving the limestone. Our “rain” comes in many forms: religion, meditation, service…..Our limestone is apathy, doubt, ego, mis-information, immaturity, not being ready, ignorance, selfishness…..

But once something has worn away enough of our personal limestone, a shift begins…….we find ways to energize and speed the dissolving process along. We are ready for the breakthough. Ready for the bottom to fall out, to open the barrier to the cenote.  A place the Mayan’s believed to be curative, sacred and a portal to communicating with the gods.

Whatever journey you are on, is it so different? Are you not slowly melting away the layers of ego to discover something deep inside of you? A place, a state of being where you can discover the “sacred”, the true “self”, inside of you?

Once a cenote is born the fresh water falls, joining a vast underground system of rivers and caves. Areas of haloclines form: where fresh water and salt water meet creating eerie pools of mystical waters. Waters flow along underground rivers and hundreds of miles later, they exit the underworld and join with the ocean……they mingle with the salt water and become something new and different. A smaller part becomes a part of something bigger as it also changes from fresh water to salt water……

So as you travel along your path to self discovery maybe the imagine of the cenote will be like a lantern guiding you along.

 

Have We Lost Silence?

August 11, 2013

I am a quiet person. I like to be quiet and I like to be surrounded by quiet. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy people and good conversation. I enjoy music and plays and movies.  I enjoy the noise of cities and the lull of ocean waves. I am grateful for the bird song that wakes me in the morning,  And for me, there is nothing more joyful than the sound of my children’s voices and their laughter.

However, I came across an article written last year that made me go “hmmmmm”.

http://www.canyoncountryzephyr.com/2012/10/01/pointblank-how-we-lost-silence-and-why-we-need-to-get-it-back-by-richard-mahler/

“In 1998, for example, natural sound recordist Gordon Hempton toured 15 states and found only two-remote parts of Colorado and Minnesota-that were free of such human-made clamor as airplanes, amplified music, chain saws, gunfire, and all-terrain vehicles for more than 15 minutes during daylight hours.

A few years earlier, Hempton had found those same areas to be sanctuaries of the kind of hear-a-pin-drop silence that most Americans under 30 have probably never experienced. Deep silence is critically endangered. As the 21st century unfolds, the mechanical racket of the Industrial Revolution and the electronic beep of the Information Age conspire to obliterate the balm of natural silence that once soothed humankind. Not only does our clatter invade nearly every public space-from beaches to mountains, shopping centers to airports-we seem compelled to let it invade our inner-sanctums of as well. We walk in our front doors and immediately flick on TV sets, radios, computers, or CD players; replay voice mail and answering machines; amuse our children with video games; and push buttons on gadgets we’ve installed in every room of the house.”

sapwoods

(Photo by me, of Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca NY)

There is one restaurant in my town that does not play music. It is like entering a kind of paradise. We can actually sit and relax, talk to each other, eat, hear our server, breathe. We can BE. We can “stop” and think and process. We can hear ourselves and each other.

What is the impact of “loosing” silence in the world? Being alone and silent in many cultures used to be a rite of passage. To be alone with oneself in order to learn who we are from the depths of our spirit. To hear that which IS silent.

“Lost from our daily routines is time to abide calmly with ourselves. That’s too bad, because “quiet alone-time” is where I believe many of us touch the fullness of our possibilities. Clinical studies suggest that a sanctuary of stillness really can restore peace of mind, while reducing stress, expanding insight, and promoting a genuine sense of happiness and well-being.”

I know that for me the “sanctuary of stillness” is very important. Without it I cannot get anywhere near my full potential. I am not happy and do not experience “well-being” without silence in my life.

For me embracing stillness and silence is paramount to my well-being.  How about you? Care to share?

Sailing

August 4, 2013

sail

I am lucky. I live in the heart of the Finger Lakes in New York state. An area rich in Native American history and spirituality.

The lakes were formed more than 550 million year ago during the Pleistocene Ice Age. Glaciers crept through the area from north to south, and carved deep sliced into the land. The ice pushed the land and rocks south. Gradually the ice melted and the glaciers receded, leaving shale valleys of water, which are now the Finger Lakes.

When you are on Cayuga Lake, you feel smaller. It is hard to feel important, Although the lake is not large, it is deep and the color somehow reflects that.

water

The Iroquois Indians call this part of New York home. The Cayuga and Onondaga tribes specifically called Cayuga Lake home.

When I am aware of my surroundings, especially when I travel, I find myself wondering about the people who lived in the area before it was easy to live there…before grocery stores, or Home Depot. Before snow plows or electricity. I wonder about the first people to live in the area, about the first “settlers” who came over a hill and saw something so beautiful that they decided to stop and make a home. I wonder about the discord that happened between people that caused fighting or forced people to move.

And, I often think about how people, before science opened up our understanding of “things”, made sense of what they saw, heard, felt.

The Finger Lakes are called the Finger Lakes because of a Iroquois legend that says the lakes were formed when the great Spirit laid his hands on the land to bless it. His fingers left imprints that filled with water, hence the name “Finger Lakes.”

“It is said that the Finger Lakes were made by the impression of the hand of the Great Spirit on central New York State. However there are six major Finger Lakes. West to east they are; Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles. As told in Iroquois legend, the Great God Manitou wanted to reward the Iroquois Confederacy for their courage in battle and their devotion to the Great Spirit. He decided to bring part of their happy hunting ground down from the heavens.

According to the legend, there are six Finger Lakes because the hand of Manitou slipped when he was pushing the portion of Indian Paradise down from the heavens, causing six indentations that later became the lakes.” Excerpt from Legends and Stories of the Finger Lakes Region by Emerson Klees  

250px-New_York's_Finger_Lakes

Could there be anything more profound than to believe your “world” was created for you by God? If you knew nothing of glaciers and geology how else could these lakes be explained? And again, the lakes reminded people, you are not as big and important as you think…..there is something bigger than you: the lakes. And if you believe in God, God.

I love living in this area. I love sailing. It is something that melds the body with nature and heals the heart and soul. It makes you stop and feel your body in relation to the wind and water. It makes you find physical balance as the water moves you in ways you can not control as the boat rocks and heels. It makes you understand the power of wind—as you feel it on your face, as you feel it move the boat. It is rhythmic and quiet. It is like a dance. As your body is rocked in the boat and cradled in the water something inside is awakened and nurtured. As a small “speck” on the water you understand you are not so important and it is a good feeling. It releases you from something. And in the wind and waves, on a small boat, in the sun surrounded by not very much, there is inner calm that reminds you to allow yourself to simply “be” without worry or hurry. Life is not about jobs and responsibilities, errands or appointments. It is not about cleaning or folding laundry. Or driving a nice car or being isolated in a large house. It is not about the internet or reality TV shows. It is about shedding all of that and knowing, when all that is stripped away, who you are.