Welcome to An Inner Walk-About

There is an inner landscape that sounds the wild call for stillness. It is both empty and cognizant at the same time. We may fall into its desert and become lost. Here, we may disappear, dissolve, die before we die. We are searching for a life, fully lived.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Sacred Shadow

Sometimes the urge to act out overwhelms us. We want to scream, to run, to lie, to hide, to control. If we become unconscious at that moment, our Shadow's suffering gets projected onto something or someone else.

This Shadow is part of the emotional body, any time we want to act out, the Shadow has been activated. It is the container of the stuffed, loaded emotions, and when we go unconscious, these get projected. So, although the Shadow is always in touch with what we are feeling, it may at the same moment be instrumental in our denial of emotional truth. With conscious attention, a willingness to be present and receptive to the painful experiences of the Shadow, we can begin to observe its sacred nature.

I remember the first time that I read Carl Jung's definition of projection. The pieces came together for me in a way that gave me the courage to really question any thought, even my most treasured beliefs.

Jung said that a projection is an unconscious, unperceived, and unintentional transfer of subjective psychic elements onto an outer object. One sees in this object something that is not there. This creates a “hook” on which one hangs a projection like a coat on a coat hook (Projection and Re-Collection in Jungian Psychology).

How do we harness enough energy to recognize a projection and stop our identification with a Shadow part of ourselves? Can we notice that if we have become hooked, the need for a defense strategy immediately arises? So now we take on the identity of both the wounded one and the strategy that protects it.

Can we recognize that we are dancing a "linear dance" between pairs of opposites, back and forth between two viewpoints created by the negative (shadow) and the positive (positive persona) poles? We run back and forth along this line seeking some comfort, ease and rest. We may spend our lives fearing that we are worthless, incapable, unlovable and trapped in endless strategies to prove that we are worthwhile, capable and lovable.

Hypnotized by this dance of duality we forget to recognize that life can be expanded to include a third point of view, one that offers the ability to hold the tension of these opposites, the Shadow and the positive Persona, and one that can free us from identification with either one.

Anytime a Shadow part rises and we keep the attention in our inner landscape, we touch a wound with an awareness about ourselves. We include the wound in our space instead of casting it out. The voice of that wound has now been consciously heard, without resistance. If , in that moment, we can hear and observe the voice of the Shadow, we cannot BE the Shadow. The wound, which was first announced by the Shadow's desire to act out, transmutes from being an unconscious and often destructive element in our lives to one of being a conscious teacher. And so, the Shadow steps into its role of a "sacred self".

We need these holy moments in our lives. They are a direct experience of what is so amazing about our precious human
condition, our ability to turn distortions into wisdom. They are the evidence of our unique capacity to dissolve the seemingly solid demons and turn them into allies.

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