It’s Still a Great Mystery

November 16, 2013

“We are all part of the great cycles of things.
And so magnificent and harmonious is this universe, it’s still a great mystery.”
— from the Prelude to the Thanksgiving Address,
Ted Williams, Tuscarora Elder

The November full moon will be tomorrow night. There is a chill in the air and a rush to find all the visually beautiful ways to materialize Christmas.

Christmas aside, what about Thanksgiving? I don’t care so much about the commercialized Thanksgiving, but I like the idea of remembering to be thankful. I wish we didn’t somehow feel, that by designating one day to it, we don’t have to think about it very much the rest of the year.

I wish we could remember we are all part of the cycle of great things.  And that it is all still a great mystery.

TV ads, store fronts, radio, magazines….anything and everything remind us incessantly to want, want, want, need, need, need, own, own, own……but what about everything else? What about just being grateful?

If you just pause for a few moments, turn off the noise, the computer, the phone….the rush, the to-do list, the whirlwind of life, what is there? In the silence and stillness, what moves your heart to be grateful?

Anyone want to share?

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One Quiet Morning

November 9, 2013

“We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.”

– from “To a Skylark” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Last Saturday in the wee hours of the morning I received a text that my cousin had passed away. Honestly, my first reaction was a sense of peace. He had been suffering for 15 years from the effects of cancer treatment. Then I felt the grief of his family—the loss of a husband, a father, a brother, a grandfather. Then I felt the loss of his friends: long time friends, new friends, even those who would never know him.

And then, as tears washed my cheeks I began to think back to a time in our lives when things were magical and innocent. Michael and I were close in age. He was a little older. He had huge brown eyes, thick auburn hair and a smile that outshone the sun. His heart was huge, his kindness and gentleness were effortless.

Some of you may know I often use Gratefulness.org as a source for quotes and information. This morning I found this:

“Even if an experience crushes you, can it not serve as a wine press that releases an unexpected sweetness? Is there some way in which it allows you to reclaim a part of yourself that you’d forgotten? Did it release courage, compassion, a deeper awareness of what matters? Ponder each of these qualities and see if you can find them in your own experience: courage (take a moment for this); compassion (for whom?); a deeper awareness (of what?). And can you name other sweetnesses that can flow out of the grief that crushes you? Pay attention to the faintest taste of sweetness.” (from Gratefulness.org)

And that is what happened to me that morning, and the following week and today. A sadness that seemed to cover me like a soft blanket, yet an awareness of a sense of sweetness. The sweetness Michael brought to my life.

My memories of Michael and I during childhood are full of vibrant emotions and color. Movement and energy. Laughter and tears. Joy and total frustration.

We would spend weeks at our grandmother’s house in what was then rural Ohio. Her house nestled in a quiet corner of land that bordered the Olentangy River. The river at her house was more of a stream, but nonetheless it was a child’s delight. We would run down the softly banked lawn to the slender trees that signaled the river’s edge. The water slipped over rocks and made small, bubbly rapids that sang the song of a child’s freedom and joy. We played for hours in the river. Was there ever any more fun than collecting sticks for no reason? Throwing rocks at nothing just to hear the “plunk” and watch the ripples? Talk wasn’t even required because we could read each other’s mind.

My grandmother never “called” us in. We would play and explore and just be kids until we went back up to the house. If we had fish in hand we were usually sent back outside. If we were wet and muddy we were dried off and warmed up. At night we slept in cherry wood beds with sheets and blankets that smelled like lavender. When the morning sun woke up, so did we and we started all over again.

As we began to grow up, we still could be found together: climbing behind waterfalls in the many gorges of Ithaca, skiing in the crisp white of winter, sailing on the Finger Lakes, swimming in the chilly waters of Cayuga Lake.

And then, adult life happened and we drifted a bit. We married, raised children and put aside the companionship, but never the love. At my uncle’s (Micheal’s dad) birthday, when Michael was in a very painful part of his  recovery and had little strength and energy, my aunt wanted to take a picture of the two of us “because we had always loved each other so much”. I remember those words because, for some reason I didn’t think anyone else knew that……

Michael’s passing is like a press squeezing sweetness from my memory. A  kind of nectar that tastes of joy, and laughter and love, freedom and companionship, innocence and lightness. It does help to reclaim that inner magic that was childhood. It helps remind me to make time and space for those things again.

Thank you for letting me share this.

Teacher

November 5, 2013

I think we all have someone, or many someones, who we would refer to as a “teacher”.

Maybe your kindergartner teacher comes to mind. Or your minister, therapist, boss, friend, grandmother, father….

Some of these are spiritual teachers, life teachers, vocational teachers, educational teachers. Teachers, teachers everywhere.

” A true teacher is someone who can offer us a map,

a question, an insight,

or simply a listening presence that sparks a fire in us. “

Joan Tollifson

I read something recently, and I will include the link at the end, that called into question the label of “teacher”, and the value, power, importance we place on that person. Sometimes we put them on a pedestal. Sometimes they put themselves on a pedestal.

But who IS a teacher? What is a teacher? How does someone become a teacher? Are we all teachers? Could we be? Should we be? Is a “teacher” finished being a “student”? Can they continue to learn from others?

What do you think? Who are the teachers in your life? What kind of teachers are they? Are they the kind of teacher that have some kind of piece of paper that says they are a “real” teacher, or have they become a teacher through life experiences? Do you view them as “different” from you, “better” than you, “smarter” than you? Do you regard them as someone “special” or “gifted”? Do you feel you could never be “as good a teacher” as they are?

Are you a “teacher”? To whom? About what? Do you think you’re “pretty special”? Do you feel as if you are a “student” too?

What happens when we stop being a student? What happens when we see ourselves as “above” someone else, or “better” than someone else?

I am a teacher and a student. Right now my most significant teachers are a group of three to six year olds. Sometimes I feel like they look up to me way too much, figuratively and literally, so I often sit on the floor. I am not smarter than they are. They teach me important things: “Just be kind” they say. To them that’s the answer. To almost any question they face.

I hope you have good teachers in your life. I hope you still see yourself as a student. If there is a pedestal involved I hope you can gently remove it.

“I’m not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way.

I pointed ahead- ahead of myself as well as you.”

George Bernard Shaw

http://www.joantollifson.com/writing18B.html  Go to entry 10-30-13, scroll down

Settling Into Yourself

October 26, 2013

You know the feeling: the way you feel when you sit down in your favorite chair. Or, the way you feel as your head rests on your pillow in bed and you pull the blankets up and close your eyes. Settled. Comfortable. Secure.

bed

What about settling into ourselves?

Today my yoga teacher said, “Settle into yourself.” I thought, “What a beautiful, tender thought,”  Then I thought, “How do I do that?”

So now here I am trying to figure it out. If I think about a workday morning and all that happens from the moment I open my eyes, get out of bed and begin the day, there is really nothing at all about settling into myself. I am settling into the day and the morning routines, but really not into me.

At work, it’s a similar pattern. First there are all the routine things to do, then the checking in with people and then the doing of being a preschool teacher.

And the day continues on in much the same way. I give no thought to “me”. I get caught in routines. I get wrapped up in feeling rushed, frustrated, hungry, tired, or grumpy. I do things automatically, like driving to work without really thinking about it.  I never settle into me. I settle into “me in the world with rolls to play and jobs to do”, but not  into the essence of who I am. My true self.

Why not? Do you?

What would settling into myself even look like or feel like? Checking in with how my body feels? With what my mind is thinking? With lists of things to do today?

How do I settle into myself like I settle into my bed at night? How do I experience the relief of being me? Of feeling comforted by me? Of feeling safe and secure in me? This is different from taking for granted or believing that I do feel these these things because I should, and therefore, somehow, do.

feather

I had a moment during meditation this morning where I experienced something that was perhaps settling into myself.  It was a feeling of being aware of my body as a feather: light and all most imperceptible. Very little physical sensation. My mind was quiet, very few, tiny thoughts of nothing in particular. A muffled sense of my surroundings that was really only insignificant. I was aware from deep inside that perhaps I had just then settled into myself. When “everything” was taken away or absent, there was only a sense of being that was fresh and light and an awareness that placed no value, judgement, expectation on myself.

Perhaps for a moment I did settle into myself……

A Walk

October 20, 2013

I love fall. Hands down, it is my favorite season. There is something about the colors, the light, the wind, the smell of the air, the sounds…..all of it.

The other day I took a walk. I tried so very hard to be present with each step. To hear the sounds of the leaves crunching. To smell the decay of the fallen apples. To see what was scurrying in the under brush. To see the bird that was singing. It was so difficult.

And yet, as I passed others enjoying a walk, I realized I was probably more aware of the moment than they were. So many were talking on their cells phones, or listening to music with headphones. Runners were focused on running. Dog walkers were focused on dogs.

It became apparent that no one noticed there were at least 4 different kinds of nuts crunching underfoot. Was anyone noticing the herds of chipmunks running here and there with their cheeks full of the bounty of fallen nuts?

pinecone

(photo by me)

I heard the Red Tailed Hawks before I saw them. A pair. They lighted on a branch and seemed to have a conversation. Someone came walking by and I made an effort to be obviously looking at something beautiful…..they did not look up to see what I was watching.

The trail runs along a creek. I noticed a bobbing branch that somehow looked out of place. I stopped and realized it was a Blue Heron fishing for yummies. Again I stopped and watched. Again someone came by, oblivious to me and the display of beauty just in front of me.

heron3

(Photo by me)

Today I walked the same path. I passed a lady coming out while I was on my way in. She looked at me and smiled. Later we caught up with each other coming back. I said “Hello again”. It was like I had opened a door. “Have you noticed how beautiful the sumac is?” she inquired. Yes, I had. “And the chipmunks are loving the hickory nuts!” YES!!! Finally she said, “Sometimes I just stand and watch the Blue Heron in the creek. He is so majestic.” I nodded. She said “Enjoy your walk.” I said “Thank-you”. She looked at me and smiled. “Thank you for seeing all these things.”, I added. She smiled again and said “Thank you for seeing them too.”

What do we miss every day?

What do you see? Hear? Feel? Experience?

 

Being Where You Are

October 4, 2013

Still floating along after a few days in silent retreat. Processing. Thinking. Realizing I took a fork in the road slightly divergent from where I thought I was going. Now I find myself kind of recalculating like a GPS system. Where exactly am I going anyhow?

winter blue(photograph by me.)

I am going to where I am right now.

I scrolled through lots of search results: Toni Packer, Krishnamurti, meditative inquiry, mantras, Buddhism, ………I found myself reading less and less thoroughly. The words were getting muddled. My mind was doing some self talk: “yeah…I know that.”, “OK, I get that.”, “How am I supposed to do THAT?”.

I tried to translate the information. Tried to have it make sense.

And then I stopped. Just stopped. There weren’t any answers on the internet. Certainly none on Pinterest!! LOL!! Reading some books helped to clarify a few things.

Ultimately, it, whatever “it” is, has to come from me, by me, for me. And what I am trying to understand, to achieve, is how to simply be with this moment. This moment. This moment. Only this moment.

Letting the moment that just ended, pass. Allowing the moment I am anticipating ahead not be rushed into existence. How to balance that with the “life I lead.” The one with a job, children, a husband, balancing, responsibility, being tired, being cranky, being happy……

So, this subtle little fork in the road that I am now traveling upon, where will it take me? I don’t know.  Right now it has taken me to right here. That’s a good place to be.

I am aware there was something I had to do a few minutes ago, and that in another moment I will have to get up to attend to something else. I’m trying to let that past moment be done, and not give too much importance to the moment coming up. My joy now becomes to be aware of every moment of attending to that “thing.” To hopefully be able to just do it with no labeling or words.

I’m picking up this edit a few days later and wanted to quote something from Toni Packer’s book The Wonder of Presence. It’s about being present with the moment, not caught up in the drama of words, emotions, our “stories”, but being aware:

“…We have thought like that for eons and behave accordingly, but at this moment can there be just the sound of the swaying tress and the rustling leaves and fresh air from the open window on the skin? It’s not happening to anyone. It is simply present for all of us, isn’t it?”

“Why bother?” you may ask. Or perhaps you’re thinking: “I don’t get what she’s talking about.”. Or maybe “That’s just a bunch of baloney.”

Well, I’ve come to a point in my life where I want to just be in THIS moment. I’ve had a full life with a wonderful husband, amazing kids and a job I love. I’ve traveled the world. I’ve laughed and experienced great joy. I have cried and felt paralyzing pain. I’ve had the proverbial broken heart. And I’ve had the gift of a wonderful life companion. I have a house, a car, a boat, cats….bills, a bank account…..I “have” a lot.

Now, I want to experience the ‘what is’ of every moment. I want to move beyond the words that create the “story” of what I am living through. I don’t want to live “through”. I want to live in. This moment. THIS moment. I want to let go of the words that are attached to drama, desire, disappointment, anticipation, fear, doubt, anger, happiness, unhappiness, the judging, the labeling, the comparing. I don’t want to live a “story” anymore.

There are memories of things I don’t want to forget, which seems contrary to being present in this moment. I just don’t want the memories to become baggage attached this moment. I don’t want the memories to filter or influence the present.  I want the moment to be as it is. By itself.

I want to be present to this moment. This moment. This moment.

Still confused? So am I a little bit.  Toni Packer talks about this is many of her books. I have only just begun to discover her and to explore her writings. But at this moment in my life her words are intriguing. I am muddling through, trying to figure out what her words mean. Especially when she says “they are just words.”!!!

I know this isn’t a road that everyone wants to travel. I can’t say I wanted to either. But I came to that fork and I went slightly off course from I thought was the correct way. The real way. The important way. It’s just a way. There will probably be another choice at some point, another fork. But for now, I put one foot in front of the other and try to just be present with that one step.

This is a very personal entry. I know not everyone will “get” it. As alluded to in the title, this is my form of processing a retreat at Springwater Center for Meditative Inquiry.

You can read about the Center and founder, Toni Packer, here: http://springwatercenter.org/ It is helpful to read a little here to understand the origins of Springwater and who Toni was.

Springwater Center is nestled in the rolling hills of the Genesee Valley in New York state. It is located on 200 acres of beautiful land that acts like a buffer not only from the active, busy world of our life, but from the noise…..even internal noise. The retreat is a silent one. The majority of the day is spent in silence and focused on awareness…being present. There is often a short “talk” in the morning and an hour group meeting where talking is permitted. The rest of the day is silent. In the spirit of being aware and present in the moment, there is no writing, reading, listening to music, computing, drawing or painting except in the privacy of your own room. Even that possibility to gently challenged. “What would it be like for you if you chose not to do those things?”

springwater building

There is a short work time in the morning to prepare food for the day, help with basic housekeeping jobs, but that’s it. Then there is the silence. There are “sitting” times, meditation, if you want to participate. There is no “teaching” of how to sit or meditate.

This was my second visit to Springwater. On my first visit I felt a little lost, struggled a little to figure out what the place was about.

This visit was profoundly different.  And here is where this post may become murky for others. This is a reflection of MY experience. Something that happened to me, inside of me, through me, with me.

During one of the talks, Richard Witteman  (http://springwatercenter.org/teachers/witteman/) said two things that literally sprang into my brain and attached themselves there. The first was a quote by Toni: “The less you know, the more fresh things become.” Ahhhhhh!!!

The second item affected me in a very profound way, and I know out of context it will sound unusual, maybe upsetting, or even confusing……but for me it was as if a door opened. I became so full of the words I don’t know if this was a quote from Toni, or from Richard, or from someone else. And it doesn’t matter. It was:

“Not knowing is okay.”

Nothing about “what” we don’t know, but that NOT knowing is okay. It’s ok.

“Knowing” is something that is so important for so many of us. Knowing tomorrow will come. Knowing the alarm will go off so we can get up in the morning. Knowing we have our trip planned, reservations made. Knowing the doctor said we are OK. Knowing our parents loved us. Knowing we have money or a car that works. Knowing we have friends. Knowing we are liked or respected by others. Knowing we can have fun. Knowing what’s coming next. Knowing we experience pain. Knowing we experience joy. Knowing provides comfort, certainty. Knowing takes away the “what ifs”. Knowing. Knowing, knowing……knowing……

But now, NOT KNOWING IS OKAY. I felt a tether break away. I felt euphoric. I floated off my chair. Fear, anxiety, control, worry, anticipation, doubt, confusion….it all melted.

I know that sounds crazy, but I am going to let that story rest now.

The next experience came forth as a result of different thoughts, ideas, observations coming together.

Each day as I sat for meditation I looked out of four tall windows. Usually I had my eyes closed and the view was irrelevant. But when my eyes were open I was aware of the view. The grass, the trees, the clouds, the deer, the wind. I noticed how the windows framed my view. The windows highlighted beautiful aspects of the outdoors. But the windows, and the walls that held them, also obstructed the whole view.  There were parts of the scene I was not aware of. I became mindful that when the windows were open I could sense more of the outdoors…I could hear the bird song more clearly. I could smell the freshness of the air. I could feel the coolness of the air or the light touch of the wind.

The sunlight would fall across the floor creating shadows…shadows of real things that no longer held their real shapes or image. The images were blurred or stretched. The image created hinted at what was there, but it was softer, less defined.

At night the windows turned dark. The beautiful lights hanging from the ceiling glowed softly. They were reflected in the window. But the reflection was distorted. For every one actual light, there were three reflected in the window.

I got to thinking….inside anywhere, looking out through any window I experience a sense of comfort and security. I know that here inside I am sheltered from the weather. I know what the things around me are for: a couch for sitting on, a stove to cook on, a bed were I can sleep. I know what is in the next room. I know where things are. I know.

I can look out the window and “see”. But the view is incomplete. The view is chopped up. Parts of the outside are hidden from view. The sensation of the aliveness of the outside is filtered through the window, the screen. Sometimes something is reflected, but even the reflection is a distortion.

For me this was a moment of awareness, of being present. I knew that until I opened the (metaphoric) door next to the window (in my life), and stepped OUT (into reality?) I could never experience life fully. I would always be living a life looking out and not a life EXPERIENCING fully. And in stepping out of the door I had to trust that it is okay to not know what is around the bend in the path, over the hill, across the stream, up in the sky, under the water. It was and had to be OK not to know. Because, in the false comfort of believing we “know”, we “believe” we have control. And we don’t really. We have no  more control over the events of our day, our emotional responses to others, or other people reactions to us, than we do to controlling the weather. We may think we do, but we don’t. That is scary. And freeing.

Finally, Richard also read something attributed to Buddha: “Seeking but not finding the house builder, I traveled through the round of countless births. Oh, painful is birth ever and again! House builder you have now been seen. You shall not build the house again. Your rafters have been broken down; your ridge-pole is demolished too. My mind has now attained the unformed nibbana and reached the end of every kind of craving.” (Dh. 153-54.)

I felt as if my (limited!) “understanding” and being able to open the door and walk out was my “house” being broken down…the rafters falling. Oh, I know this only the beginning of some sort of journey and I will most likely get lost along the way. Hopefully though I will be okay with the not knowing what comes next.

Thank you for reading this experience of mine. I’d love to hear from you.

The Yellow Brick Road

September 1, 2013

I read an article ( http://zencomprehensible.com/zen-on-the-yellow-brick-road/ ) about “the Yellow Brick Road” from The Wizard of Oz. It doesn’t take much for my mind to go off on a tangent. This time however, I don’t think I have strayed too far.

Many of us remember The Wizard of Oz with joy or with a pinch of uneasiness. Those Flying Monkeys have haunted some of us for quite a while. They personified a kind of fear. Watch out or the flying monkey will get you!!

The Wizard of Oz is chalk full of imagery, symbolism, meaning. The author L.Frank Baum was a Theosophist.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosophy ) Theosophical symbolism is everywhere in this story.

So here are my thoughts.

The first article reminds us we are all on a road of some kind. When we are walking towards our fears and uncertainties we always come upon obstacles, road blocks. Along the way we pick up things that provide us support–things or people who encourage us to keep going, to not give up. Sometimes we have to face, head on, our deepest fears to get to the truth behind the curtain. And the truth that is ultimately always within us. Glinda tells Dorothy, “You’ve always had the power to go home.” Sometimes we just aren’t aware of, or don’t trust in what is right in front of us.

Does Kansas represent for Dorothy, for us, our physical world as it is right now? The place where we are materially and spiritually? One day Dorothy sings:

“Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops,”

Is she searching for something? Is she ready to begin a spiritual journey?

Then, WHAM! Something drastic happens, a tornado of twirling energy (karma?), flashing bits of her life in front of her. This twisting, powerful force that lurches Dorothy forward—–distancing her from all that is familiar, comforting, predictable. She finds herself looking around in wonder at a new and breath-taking world and while exhaling announces “Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore.”

dorothy dreams

(google images)

Remember the slippers? Originally the Ruby Red Slippers were supposed to be silver. In some schools of thought, the idea of a “silver thread” represents the connection between the physical and the spiritual. The shoes were changed to red because they showed up better on the film.

Once Dorothy has the magic shoes she is led to the Yellow Brick Road. In Buddhism, the road to Enlightenment is call the “Golden Path”.  And how does the yellow Brick Road begin? In a spiral, yet another symbol of the evolving self. Aren’t there times when we feel we are caught in a spiral of some kind: “Spiraling out of control”, “caught in a downward spiral”, “spiraling upwards”?

begin yellow brick road

(google images)

On her journey Dorothy encounters soon to be friends and companions who are seeking “a brain”/wisdom, “courage”, “a heart”/purity/love. All the qualities for a successful spiritual awakening. Who else does Dorothy talk to? Toto. Toto is Dorothy’s inner voice, the one who sees things for who and what they really are (thinking ahead to pulling back the curtain and revealing “Oz” for what he really is.)

Surmounting obstacles and challenges, Dorothy makes it to Oz. The Great and Powerful Oz may represent our spiritual/religious beliefs. The authority that tells us how to be “worthy”. She is given a “task”, get the broom stick from the Wicked Witch of the East. This accomplished Dorothy now returns to claim her rewards: to return home for herself, a brain for the Scarecrow, courage for the Lion and a heart for the Tin Man. Sadly, she learns the “Great and Powerful Oz” is not so great or so powerful. (What does this say about organized religion?) The Wizard, now a professor, bestows wisdom, courage and love/purity to Dorothy’s three companions while revealing they always possessed the traits and had only to believe in them. For Dorothy, getting home would require trusting Oz, now a mere man, and embarking on the trip home in “a hot air” balloon. At the last minute, Toto, her intuitive self, runs away forcing Dorothy to follow. She misses the launch and is left behind. Glinda swoops in and lovingly tells Dorothy she herself has the power to go home, and she has always had it. All she needs to do is close her eyes and say the magic words.

Back in Kansas, Dorothy has a hard time getting her loved ones to believe she was really in another “place”, but now, seemingly more at peace with herself, and perhaps better balanced between the physical and spiritual, she is comforted by understanding “the is no place like home”

path

(google images)

We are all on a journey of some kind. For some of us it is a journey of healing or forgiving. For other it is spiritual. We all come from different backgrounds and experiences. We all have different names for what we are searching for. Whether we know it or not, we are all on The Yellow Brick Road. In some way or another we want to know what is behind the curtain. To face and overcome our fears. To know what is the truth/real. And for many of us we will come to see that we already possess great strength and wisdom in ourselves. We only have to come to this understanding.

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.