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

 

 

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once,
but of stretching out to mend the part of the world
that is within our reach”
 
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

hands

Some days the world is so full of pain and sorrow I just wish there was some way to have it all righted, and have everything “fixed” and made OK. It is overwhelming.

Staying grounded and keeping things in perspective means we have to understand and accept we cannot fix the entire world. We have to find balance and reach our hand out to that which is within our reach, and slowly, with love and care, mend the broken and wounded parts that are within our grasp.

Sometimes it means starting with ourselves: making sure we are whole and healthy. Many of us resist taking care of ourselves if we perceive we can spend our energy, resources, time on someone else. Truly, for us to help others we have to be healthy and strong. Sometimes we might not even know what we need in order to take care of ourselves.

Sometimes fixing things means we have to let go. Letting go in all kinds of ways. Letting be. Leaving alone. Walking away.

Or maybe we need to sit with something. Be present and simply experience without doing or changing. And then letting it go.

Or, maybe we need to take a first step that might be hard for us….to speak up or out, to stand up.

I listen to the news sometimes and cringe. I hear parents screaming at their kids in grocery store and cringe. I listen to college kids speak jokingly in ways that are really mean, callous and misogynistic and cringe. I listen to lyrics of songs that are violent, that demean women and others and I cringe. There is no way I can change all those things.

I read of pollution. I read of deforestation. I read of rising sea levels and melting ice fields. I can’t prevent those things from happening.

My arms do not reach that far.

But, there are things within of my own grasp. My choices are within reach. My words and actions are within reach. My voice is within reach.

I am within my own reach. I can start with myself.

I can work towards reaching out, and stretching a little more to take a step towards mending what is within my reach. And with patience, someone else might try too. And the reach will be a little longer. A little more mending will happen.

Maybe we can reach out together.

(hand mandala from google images)

Are You Ready For This Day?

October 21, 2012

I came across a guide for preparing for the day. It is based on the chakras, but I think that even if you do not have interest in chakra work, the general idea is one worth considering.

It starts by reminding us that each day is a new beginning. The task for  today is to learn the practice of consciously entering your body and your day. Begin by focusing attention on your entire day from morning to evening.

Review your plans for today:

  • Think about where you need to be and with whom you need to be.
  • Do you feel stressful about this day or do you feel comfortable?
  • Do you feel prepared for today’s events?
  • Are you projecting fears and expectations into this day?

As you gather yourself and plan for the day, add these thoughts to the process:

  • Identify your fears for today and pull them into your consciousness.
  • Acknowledge the strength of the energetic circuitry connecting you to all life.
  • Visualize that strength replacing your fears for today.
  • See yourself standing tall.
  • Work: What am I going to do today?
  • Creativity: What am I going to create today?
  • Focus on your self-esteem and how you feel about yourself today:
  • Am I feeling strong? Frightened?
  • Do I need someone’s approval today?
  • Will I need to be courageous?
  • Remind yourself of your boundaries, dignity, inherent honor, and integrity.
  • Make an internal  promise in terms of how you want to live your life today.
  • Reaffirm to yourself  that you want to look at today through your heart and not through your fears; that you want to feel gratitude for events that do or don’t happen as they should.
  • Keep your attention on the right way to walk into this day, with compassion and patience.
  • Define your needs and desires for today and let go of doing the same for others.
  • Envision choices that result in positive attitudes and feelings about yourself.
  • Vow to express yourself honestly.
  • Prepare your mind to enter the day feeling good and not generating fear or doubt.
  • For today, release old grudges, beliefs, attitudes and patterns that no longer serve you.
  • Remember that everything in your life is there for a reason and to teach you something about yourself and others.
  • Pull your attention up and out, and hold the idea ‘live in present time.’
  • Let go of the past and do not anticipate the future.
  • Find moments of gratitude throughout the day.

At the end of the day, pause for a quiet time to reflect on the day, and put it to bed also.

  • Think about how you feel about yourself and your day now that it  is over.
  • Reflect on the million things that happened to you today and be appreciative of them all.
  • Remember that everything has the potential to be a valuable learning experience.
  • Look at the positive things you invested in today and be grateful for them.
  • Were you able to make choices that enhanced your life today? If so, acknowledge those choices, take a deep breath and decide to put your energy into more of them.
  • What choices drained your energy? Commit to changing those choices in the future.
  • Ask yourself “Did I speak with honesty and integrity?”
  •  How have you done with forgiveness today?
  • Were you judgmental or critical of yourself or others today or did you extend kindness and compassion?
  • Release your fears and doubt.
  • Breath and allow yourself to prepare for restful sleep knowing that tomorrow will be a new day.

Namaste.

 

 

“We are constantly invited to be who we are.”

Henry David Thoreau

Everyday, as the sun rises and we open our eyes from the fuzzy interlude of sleep, dreams and silence to find a new invitation before us: You are invited this day, to be who you are.

While there may be routine, mundane, predictable parts of the day set before you, there will also be moments of spontaneity, unpredictability and surprise. These moments of synchronistic opportunity that catch us off guard provide us this invitation to be who we are. Not who we are expected to be, predicted to be…but who we ARE. And most of us, I believe, find we are able to RISE to a level we never expected.

Perhaps though , we have to train ourselves to be aware of these opportunities…mindfulness. Perhaps we will be called to muster up some courage and will ourselves to say “I will allow myself to submit to this moment in order to come closer to being the person I am”.

I go through days that are fairly routine, and within the routines, I find myself at risk of being in a rut. If I am in a rut, I most certainly am not living up to my fullest potential…the person I AM. I am not that routine, I am not that rut. I may have to live through those moments, but when I open the invitations that are presented to me throughout the day, and have the mindfulness to take action, I have greater, longer, more frequent moments where “I” am truly “me”. And I surprise myself!!

Sometimes it is an invitation to be kind, or take a risk, or say “no”, or for that matter “yes”. Sometimes it is closing my eyes, or taking a breath, or standing up instead of sitting down. Sometimes it is something big and scary, other times small and seemingly silly. Sometimes it may mean being assertive or confident, other times humble, accepting,  or forgiving. But an invitation is an invitation. And if we don’t accept them and take action on them, they may stop coming. And then we may be alone with our routine, mundane, rut living self, rather than OUR SELF.

So, when your invitation arrives today, open it right away! Accept the invite and explore who you truly are!

There is a car I seem to follow through town quite a bit.  There is a bumper sticker on it that says “Progress Not Perfection”.  I really like that.

I think we spend a lot of time and energy on PERFECTION. And, I think it bogs us down and sometimes puts us in a quagmire that we struggle to get out of.

I feel like “perfection” is s bad word.

My husband went to a Cognitive Behavioral therapist for awhile. He came home one day with a big grin on his face and announced with great certainty and obvious sense of relief: “I don’t have to bat 1000. 300  is okay!”

Here was a moment of awakening for me too. We are bombarded by so many things that tell us very clearly, if we are not perfect we are not good enough. Look at TV and magazine ads. Reality TV shows. Look around you…dress like this and you’ll be beautiful. Get hair cut like so and so and people will like your hair cut (not you). Get a big gas wasting car so people will think you are important. Do this so you can be better than them.  Appear this way and people will think you are powerful.  Bat 1000 and the world will be yours. And if you don’t, you are failing.

Well, for me, batting 300 is pretty great. And I am much happier and more confident in believing I don’t have to bat 1000 to be a good, kind, valuable, contributing, caring person. I can take pride in batting 300 and work towards batting 302, or 305.

I think progress can lead to a different type of “perfection”.  The kind of perfection that isn’t absolute. Rather, something more about being able to change and grow, something that is fluid and dynamic, not static and with an end point.

We are all thrown a variety of pitches every day. Some could be called:

CATASTROPHIZING  CURVE  BALL – Making mountains out of molehills.

RUMINATION  SLIDER- Thoughts going around and around in your head.

PROCRASTINATION SINKER  – Can’t make final decisions.

WORRY  AND  GUILT CHANGEUP

WORRYING  ABOUT  OTHER’S  OPINIONS KNUCKLE BALL

SECOND  GUESSING  OTHER’S  THOUGHTS  SCREWBALL

REGRETS  AND  SELF-BLAME SPLITTER

RIGIDITY  TO  CHANGE  FORKBALL- Usually  when we keep looking for excuses or reasons why things can’t change – or when we need to get out of our ‘comfort zone’

For each one of these we need to learn how to stand to face it with authority. We need to know how to place our hands on the “bat” so we can send the “Catastrophizing curve ball” flying. We need to learn not to flinch when a “Regret and Blame splitter” is thrown at us. We need to learn to see a “Procrastination sinker” coming. We need to learn the mechanics of how “Rumination slider” moves. And we need to adjust accordingly. We need to make progress through practice and experience, with the help of mentors and team mates. Then we can keep our eye on whatever pitch  is coming our way, make commanding contact with it and send it out of the park and out of play in our lives.

And when we begin to understand that with all of the above, 300 is really good, we can begin to believe in ourselves and work on making progress on learning, practicing, trying new things, paying attention, and seeing. We can be unflinching and live fully on the premise: Progress not perfection. Some days we’ll bat 250, or 300. Maybe we’ll get to 375 or as low at 200. But whatever our average, we know it is all about Progress and not Perfection.

Batter UP!!

Mind chatter is the mind noise that never stops. It is the inner conversation or inner monologue that constantly goes on in the mind.

We are often unaware of this mental noise, because it has become a deeply embedded habit, something we may consider to be just a part of life.

Mind Chatter is like an inner voice that constantly analyzes everything about our lives, surroundings and the people we know. It is a voice in the head that just keeps talking and talking! It starts sometimes before we even open our eyes in the morning making a mental list of what we need to do, and follows us through the day, and is even with us when we close our eyes in bed, wishing something different had been done or said. It happens when we gossip, or think negative thoughts about others.

These thoughts can loop, go round and round, over and over. How lucky we are if this “broken record” thought is a positive one! What a struggle it is if it is a negative thought filled with worry, stress, anger or frustration. How horrible to have that noise chattering away inside our head all day long. We really could do without it!

The first step to quieting this chatter, is to realize it exists! Then we have to sort out if it is our True Self talking, or is it our sub-conscious? Often the cause is fear, in some form: the “what ifs”. This chatter tries to bring some sort of order from the perceived chaos: we have to consider all the options so we will be safer.

When we get wrapped up in this noise, while we are focused on it, listening to it, we are missing out on life going on around us.

We need to stop the Mind Chatter by learning how to stop our unconscious mind’s habit of “running off at the mouth”. Pay attention to what it is saying. If you hear negatives: “I can’t”, “I should, “what will I do?”, stop the dialogue. Make the conscious effort to change your thought process: tell the chatter to “STOP”, say ” I can”,” I am OK”, “I can handle this, I can figure it out”. Take control. We need to repeat this every time the negative chatter gets going, until there is a natural replacement of positive, rather that negative dialogue.

We will always have this mind chatter going on. Our mind loves to be busy. We can, however, change the topic! We have to be careful because when our mind chatters, we listen, and we remember. If our chatter is negative, guess what we remember? Information is continually being recorded and stored for future reference.

Brian Tracey says, “Perhaps the most powerful influence on your attitude and personality is what you say to yourself, and believe. It is not what happens to you, but how you respond internally to what happens to you, that determines your thoughts and feelings and, ultimately, your actions. By controlling your inner dialogue, or “self-talk,” you can begin to assert control over every other dimension of your life.”

Remez Sasson offers these insights on what mind chatter is :

  1. Thoughts that repeat themselves like a tape that keeps playing the same tune.
  2. Reliving negative past situations or visualizing fears over and over again.
  3. Dwelling on the past or fearing the future. This prevents us from enjoying the present. The past is gone, and the future is the product of our present thinking and actions. The only time that exists is now, the present moment.
  4. Compulsive inner monologue that disturbs our peace and makes the mind busy.
  5. Never being here. Always thinking on something else, instead of what we are doing now. If we always think on something else we never enjoy the moment.
  6. Constant analysis of our and other people’s situations, reactions and behavior. Analyzing the past, the future, things we need or want to do, our day, yesterday and the distant past.
  7. Almost all involuntary thinking and daydreaming are some sort of mental noise. This is often a constant background noise, which often intrudes into foreground in the middle of everything we do.

How do we gain control? Through some hard, thoughtful work and patience.

We have to be aware of this noise. Then we have to understand that it is our brain’s attempt to protect us from the unknown by pretending it knows what will happen. First we have to tell that noise, the chatter, to STOP. Then take the negative thoughts and turn them into positive: “I can’t do this…” to, “ I can do this”.

Breathe, count to 10, sing a favorite verse of song…let your mind know you are not interested in the negative chatter. Learn to “see” the chatter, imagine it written on a blackboard and watch as it is erased and the see the board clear and clean and blank……and then keep the board blank, do not let anything else be written.

We can also work to change the chatter, and make it useful and powerful in a positive way. Begin a routine of beginning your day with positive thoughts. Instead of “oh, I HAVE to take a shower”, turn it into “The hot shower will feel good.”  Replace “I have so much to do today”, with “I am going to accomplish a lot today”.

Mid-day, find a few moments and slow down. As thoughts creep in…erase them. Be still. Pat yourself on the back, “I’ve made progress”, “I am handling things well”.

At the end of the day, tell your mind to STOP chattering. When it starts up, divert and recite a poem, sing a song, do a multiplication table! Do not let it get chatting….

Some ideas of how to quiet your mind chatter include this from

Swami Nithya Bhaktananda

  1. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Do not make excuses, “I am busy then.”, “I already have plans.” Make a conscious decision to say the absolute truth, or what you actually mean. The absolute truth doesn’t have to be harsh or hurtful, you can do so compassionately and authentically, but firmly. When you own what you say, no one can reject it, even if they don’t like what they hear; because you are telling the truth and you mean it. Make a conscious commitment to yourself to mean everything that you say, and not to make empty promises that you cannot, will not, do not intend to fulfill. Do not tell someone you will call if you know you won’t. Telling the truth prevents the mind from having something to chatter about!
  2. Don’t say to anyone unless you can say to everyone. “Make a commitment to yourself, that you will not say something to one person, unless you can announce it to the world, to everybody. Make a commitment to stop the spreading of drama and bad energy.”
  3. Don’t say inside, what you cannot say outside. When the chatter starts, especially when the thought is full of negativity like “I am so stupid”, or “I feel like a failure”, say to yourself, or even out loud: “STOP! From today forward, I choose to let this thought go, for it does not uplift me. I am exposing this thought as being false, for you are not real! From today onward, I am free from this thought.”  Whatever thought you are not able to say out aloud to people (anyone), don’t even bother entertaining inside your head. Keep your inner space clean. While you may share your self doubt with others as a means of processing, you would never go around introducing yourself as “stupid” or as a “failure”, so stop your mind chatter from saying it to you.

Don’t let Chatter say it unless it is true, useful or kind. Be conscious of what you say and only say it if any of the following is true:

Is what I’m saying …

  • True to me? An authentic statement from my heart?
  • Useful or helpful to someone or some situation?
  • Kind or compassionate? Such as a compliment, or an offer of help.

Don’t let your spoken words run rampant either. Be conscious of what you say out loud. Your mind chatter will begin to reflect that, and you will not have to battle the mind chatter caused by speaking meaningless, gossipy, hurtful words.

http://thinksimplenow.com/clarity/how-to-quiet-your-mind/

Another interesting site is: http://www.aquietmind.com/2011/09/28/day-1-quiet-mind/

It offers simple, short, day by day suggestions to slow and quiet your mind chatter through attainable steps.

As we change and grow and move towards fulfilling our potential, free from mind chatter that slows us down, we also begin to change those around us. And one by one, the change spreads. You are good, and strong, and kind and of value. Make sure your mind chatter is telling you the same thing, or else tell it to STOP, so that you can GO forward.

Familiar with The Society Of Friends? The Quakers? They have in their history a beautiful “dance” song called Simple Gifts. You may know it from Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, or from Obama’s inauguration when YoYo Ma and others played Aire and Simple Gifts. The music is breath-taking. The words speak of ideals few us might ever even consider: “to bow and to bend”, “tis a gift to be simple”, “to come down where we ought to be”. Words of humility.

How do these words have the power to influence our potentiality? The words remind us of what is important, no matter the time we live in, our social status or anything else. If we remember we are a part of something bigger, or that there is something bigger than us as an individual, we can be at ease with humility (to bow) , to turn and be able to compromise, to be grateful, to bend and seek simplicity rather than complexity. We can be free from self-importance, wanting, desiring, wishing for…..and find satisfaction with the moment.  We can “come down to where we’re meant to be”, and realize that for most of us, especially if you are reading this, our lives are OK.  “And when you find yourself in a place just right, you will be in the valley of love and delight”: when you look around and start saying “thank-you”, “I am thankful for ….”, “I love you”, “I forgive you”, “I am sorry”, you will be in a place of gratitude. “When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed”: Tagore said,

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”

We don’t always have to be strong, right, domineering, forceful, insistent, in control….

“To turn and to turn will be our delight till by turning and turning we come round right”. Dance. In gratitude, in peace and with peace, with others, by yourself. Dance because you are a part of Something that will work with you to discover your potential. Turn to face the light, the possibilities…when True Simplicity is gained life can change.

Every Day Intention

April 14, 2012

Some days the only intention I have is to get through the day. That doesn’t always seem to be the best or the healthiest way to go about living. Other days, while it may be mired in boring, routine things, I have a plan of action. Other days my only goal is to relax and take the day as it comes. Do any of these really help me live to my fullest on any given day? Do these thoughts and actions serve to boost up and support my potential?

What about beginning each day with focused, purposeful INTENTION?

Definition of INTENTION

1: a determination to act in a certain way : resolve
2: import, significance
3: what one intends to do or bring about

On New Year’s we make “new year resolutions”. How long does that last for you? For me, not so long. Perhaps the old idea of “one step at a time” would work more effectively….the “one day at a time” idea.  There are so many things I do each morning to prepare myself physically, mentally and emotionally for the day. Setting positive intentions for the day could easily and reasonably become part of that routine.

Let’s look at this more closely.

We do have the power to make a choice about how to begin the day. It is important to remember that we do attain personal growth through everyday challenges. When your mind becomes cluttered,  pause and take a few breaths to gain some clarity and move on. Learn to recognize limiting beliefs that hold you back. Make it a goal to use your intuition and emotions in a positive way. Self acceptance goes a long way.

Little, by little, chip away at the old  habits and obstructions in your path, commit to trying something new.

Get a journal, a little notebook, a pad of paper, or use your computer, phone or whatever.

Write down one intention, more if they come to mind. Something positive and realistic.
Recall it throughout the day. Your intention could be as simple as resolving to smile more, to slow down, to say something kind to someone you do not often speak to, to dress more professionally, or to meditate for 5 to 10 minutes.

The next  day, review your intentions.  Was there an intention that didn’t manifest? Let it go for a bit and include it again later. Give thanks for the intentions you brought to fruition, and then start the process all over for this new day.
There is  cumulative power in even the smallest positive actions. You may also begin to notice patterns of behavior or thought that inhibit your confidence. Don’t  try to sweep them under the proverbial mat, befriend them; understand where they’re coming from.

Change requires vision and commitment. Daily intention setting is one step to making small changes every day that add up to big changes. Changes that help us grow and move towards our full potential, and along the way, bring others along with us. As you rise to your potential, others will notice and then you have the opportunity to reach out your hand and guide them on a path that may help them discover their potential too.

Have the intention to care about yourself and live with the knowledge that through one small step each day you can manifest your fullest potential.