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Shadow work?

Last post 1 hour, 1 minutes ago by Resurrected. 7 replies.
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  •  11-05-2007, 8:36 PM 31352

    Shadow work?

    Thanks for taking a minute to read this.

    I was listening to the Alanis and Ken discussion, and they mentioned 'shadow work.'  They were talking about how some people get all high and beautiful when they meditate, but when they go about their normal, daily lives it's apparent they still have a lot of unaddressed 'stuff' they haven't dealt with.

    I understand the concept of a shadow--the unacknowledged parts of ourselves, the creeping subconscious that filters through the things we do, though we remain unaware.  I understand the idea, generally, I think, but I get the impression that there is something a little more specific being alluded to in the Ken/Alanis conversation, as well as in various places in the i-i forums.

    Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

    Thanks,

     

    K

     

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  •  11-06-2007, 4:17 AM 31372 in reply to 31352

    Re: Shadow work?

    Resurrected:

     

    I understand the concept of a shadow--the unacknowledged parts of ourselves, the creeping subconscious that filters through the things we do, though we remain unaware.  I understand the idea, generally, I think, but I get the impression that there is something a little more specific being alluded to in the Ken/Alanis conversation, as well as in various places in the i-i forums.

    Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

     

     

    Hi K,

    Yes, you are correct that there are aspects in the content and processes of consciousness that serve both as a "filter" to perception and shapes our actions with unseen parameters. In short there are unexamined assumptions and/or feelings that have a direct impact on daily experience. This, to my understanding, is not what is meant by shadow in traditional psychology and in the II community.

    The "shadow" has more to do with unacknowledged "qualities" of one's personality structure. Metaphorically speaking, these disowned qualities are not content to remain stored away in the attic or the basement. Rather, they seek to make their presence known by stirring up strong emotional reactions in the psyche whenever the slightest hint of that quality seems to present itself in others.

    For instance, part of my constructed "self image" is that I am a peaceful and fair person. This certainly has a basis in truth, but it is only a partial truth. Yes, I can be both peaceful and fair and I am strongly motivated to both ends. But, I am not exclusively so, in that I do have both the capacity and tendency to be violent and bias. When I had not come to terms with these "shadow" aspects of myself I constantly found myself feeling (and unsuccessfully repressing) a lot of anger because of finding myself in a world that was almost exclusively about selfishness, prejudice and violent control. These shadow elements not only interfered with my composure but also my relationships in particular and in general and the sad thing was they also interfered with my ability to do anything constructive in regards to the conditions I encountered. Until I honestly examined myself so that I could acknowledge my own violence and prejudice, understand their voice and own them in an authentic way I was powerless to effectively address them in the manifest world. I was also prone to exaggerated visions of their presence and effects. I still see a lot of violence and prejudice in the world but I am no longer caught in the grip of emotional reaction to it and my responses to it (to the degree of my influence) are more effective. I am also able to see a lot more peace and fairness expressing itself in others and myself and have a greater capacity to bring that quality to the fore in myself and others.

    I hope this helps

    Jerry

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  •  11-06-2007, 8:48 AM 31384 in reply to 31352

    Re: Shadow work?

    Hi K,

     

    It may be useful to this discussion to consider that there are two basic forms of shadow; those elements that we are born with and those that we currently acquire; they can be thought of as either lunar or solar, respectively.

     

    Simply put solar shadow is that part of the psyche that acts as a repository of repressed elements, commonly known as the sub-conscious. Generally, when the contracted self comes across some element of its behavior that it considers not being able to stand the light of day, it tucks it away, hides it from view, and then does what it can to forget that it has done so. It's analogous perhaps to sweeping dirt under a rug. But as noted elsewhere it hasn't gone away, it makes itself known as we trip over something; over an occasion that has high emotive content.

     

    Reversing the process is called de-repression; a procedure that can be described as a forensic science of the psyche. But let's be candid, de-repression is not always a pretty process, and to do so we must be willing to face whatever negativity it was that caused us to bury the contents in the first place.

     

    Maybe a story will help illustrate the process. Many years ago when i first began to root around in the psyche i noticed something about my food prejudices; they all had something in common, a fact which indicated that they were not just random prejudices, but something tied them together. A common element was that all the foods i was prejudiced against were warm, white, and creamy.

     

    But i had no conscious clue (after all i was dealing with repressed material) until i obtained the result of a divination ritual, which was the second and fifth lines changing in the 13th hexagram. At the time i was using Blofeld’s literal translation of the I Ching. The words of the second line hit me like a sledgehammer: His beloved (betrothed) is of the same clan as himself –trouble!  Yikes! Suddenly i realized that i had been doing something that good little Christian boys were not supposed to do; desiring elicit contact with my mother! So culturally denigrated is such a notion that we have a special epithet to describe it. I won't mention it here but suffice to say that they're usually thought of as fighting words.

     

    The effect on me was electric! I was so psychically charged that i couldn't sit still. It took me 40 minutes of walking around to calm down enough to be seated once again. And then i read the balance of the divination text. The fifth line holds: The lovers began by weeping and wailing, but they finish by laughing, as the crowd succeeds in bringing them together.

     

    I won't belabor the issue with the finer points of integrating various elements of this particular bit of shadow; but the crowd in this case refers to those hardy investigators into the mechanics of the psyche, who have performed an extremely valuable service, offering a mental context for the defanging of many a tiger.

     

    Lunar shadow on the other hand is stuff we are born with, and most likely represent the accumulated effects of more than one lifetime. Sometimes this is thought of as soul print, a sort of stamp that's placed on us as we enter into manifestation. It's partly in our DNA, partly in epi-genetics, and partly in the more subtle realms, which taken together give rise to our predispositions. It's a vast study. But if we are to become more integrally informed we need the freedom that comes from successfully dealing with two kinds of shadow.

     

    Warmly,

     

    Charles

    88W18'28" 41N58'02"

     

      

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  •  11-06-2007, 10:23 PM 31437 in reply to 31384

    Re: Shadow work?

    Hello Charles,

    Yes, I would agree that there are two different avenues for the formation of our shadow elements. There is that which is formed as a defense mechanism in response to environmental impact and there are the predispositions with which we are born. But, do these differ in any other way? Are they not both "qualities" or aspects of the personality structure that are not seen or? Are there different modes of dealing with them? If they are different in how they manifest and/or are integrated please give an example.

    Meanwhile,  I think it is important to add that shadow elements are not always so called negative qualities. In fact we have by definition not seen (and perhaps even disassociated with) the very highly regarded qualities we seek. After all, if you already own it you have no need to seek it. You can be sure this is the case when you find yourself in awe or envious of another's display of the desired quality be it generosity, compassion, equanimity, etc. Pehaps it is this "positive" shadow you were speaking about?

    Jerry

     

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  •  11-07-2007, 12:56 AM 31443 in reply to 31437

    Re: Shadow work?

    Jerry,

    I think you've hit it dead on.  So what we're calling 'shadow work' is really the sum total of waking up, which definitely includes a hugely positive dimension of the self that can't be overstated.

    On a related note, I find that it is when I am caught up in my shadow and its deceptions that I grow.  I initially posted this little query in the hope that I might learn some methodology for delving into my 'shadow.'  But upon reflection, I realize: when I become aware of the process, it falters, and I hit a plateau. 

    I have this notion that authentic growth usually happens beneath the ego's radar, when we're grappling directly with the shadow and not preoccupied with the wispy 'love' of ecstasy and the blissful (and somewhat imaginary) release (escape) of waking.  It's similar in principle to a double-blind study in that having to struggle with our demons rather than simply climbing a rainbow ladder ensures that our true character is what emerges.  Like reincarnation buffs suggest, ignorance of what came before is necessary so that we might experience our drama authentically and in complete immersion.  That way, our choices arise from our true character rather than as a reflection of the knowledge that there is a 'prize' on the other side of the struggle.  True spirit can be no Pavlov's dog.  In short, it is trial by fire, and the 'prize' is your self.

     

    In other news...

    A song I was listening to on the way home tonight... just food for thought, for reflection, for stimulation... if nothing else, to see if anything more than a bare handful even reads these forums anymore...

    "If this isn't what you see, it doesn't make you blind.  If this doesn't make you feel, it doesn't mean you've died.  If you don't want to be seen, you don't have to hide.  And if you don't want to believe, well, you don't have to try... to feel alive.  Alive in the superunknown..."

    And another that should be familiar...

    "Many is the word... that only leaves you guessin'... guessin' 'bout a thing... you really oughta know..."

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  •  11-07-2007, 8:16 AM 31466 in reply to 31437

    Re: Shadow work?

    Hi Jerry,

     

    On the face of it the two forms of shadow are similar enough to carry the same name; yet by way of analogy using solar or lunar to describe the two subsets may have some value.  If we consider that most of the light that enters the earth’s atmosphere comes from the Sun, and that the shadows it casts tend to have greater –and perhaps more immediate –contrast than that which reaches us from the moon, a reflected and secondary source, suggesting something from the past.

     

    It's difficult to collect enough data to be sure about these things, but it seems highly likely to me that shadow elements formed in the psyche in the current context of this lifetime may well follow patterns laid down previously. Or put more simply it may be that we're predisposed to form shadows of a certain type.

     

    Typically an entrance into the world of shadow is via life situations that have high emotive content. But an investigation of the subtler indicators may also prove fruitful. Body language comes to mind, as does our association with color.

     

    I remember once being in an altered state and observing some of my habitual body movements; in particular, i had in those days, a habit of twirling the ends of my mustache. But what characterized this state was that simultaneous with repeating the body motion the motive behind it was revealed; in this case what the motion revealed was doubts that i had about the relative attractiveness of my own sexuality.

     

    It was probably around this time that i came to realize that motives, as commonly understood, are primarily connected to the contracted self. And rather than think of them as positive or negative, my tendency is to see motives as falling into two different categories; things we run toward, and things we run away from; i.e. desire and fear respectively.

     

    Colors have their place too, and there's a ton of evidence that we tend to favor some over others. An excellent and fun source for entry into the psychology of color can be found in the Lüscher Color Test; text copies of which can still be found on Amazon, along with online options.

     

    Observing large numbers of people in the downtown of a crowded city it seemed pretty clear to me that a significant minority of folks at any one time were wearing colors that corresponded with the sign of the zodiac that the moon currently occupied. Although the size of this minority tended to vary, the largest was red! Now for reasons stated earlier it's obvious that not everyone has all of the colors associated with the zodiac in his or her wardrobe. Now as i internalized this data, it seemed to me to be almost a call from Nature herself, and if it was always a good idea a minority of the time what would it be like in a majority? So i began a practice that i carry on to this day. I tend to dress deliberately each day in the colors that are associated with the position of that day’s moon. It's not a big deal. It’s just a devotional device that the bhakti yogi in me is fond of.

     

    And finally i think it's worth adding that often times it's possible to reach a point in investigating these things where our understanding is sufficient to the task, which i submit is to remain lighthearted about the process -pun intended!

     

    Warmly,

     

    Charles

    88W18'28" 41N58'02"

     

     

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  •  13 hours, 59 minutes ago 31563 in reply to 31443

    • annapizelo is not online. Last active: 11-09-2007, 8:03 AM annapizelo
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    Re: Shadow work?

    I like your thinking here: "I have this notion that authentic growth usually happens beneath the ego's radar, when we're grappling directly with the shadow"

    How else can we fully engage ourselves in the experiences of our shadow and to grow from it without experiencing its presence through the manifestations of it in the spectrum of mind to body? "Grapple" is a perfect word because its demonstrating the concreteness of our relationship with our shadow as well, not just the lurking intangible nightmare that some people make it out to be. It can be like rudimentary clay with impressions made, revealing aspects that we can come to witness, to know, and to transmute. It can be a surprise to see some of the impressions we've made in our clay, but the product of our shadow can be enlightening and helpful if we are willing to take its mold and work with it.
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  •  1 hour, 1 minutes ago 31606 in reply to 31563

    Re: Shadow work?

    annapizelo:
    I like your thinking here: "I have this notion that authentic growth usually happens beneath the ego's radar, when we're grappling directly with the shadow" How else can we fully engage ourselves in the experiences of our shadow and to grow from it without experiencing its presence through the manifestations of it in the spectrum of mind to body? "Grapple" is a perfect word because its demonstrating the concreteness of our relationship with our shadow as well, not just the lurking intangible nightmare that some people make it out to be. It can be like rudimentary clay with impressions made, revealing aspects that we can come to witness, to know, and to transmute. It can be a surprise to see some of the impressions we've made in our clay, but the product of our shadow can be enlightening and helpful if we are willing to take its mold and work with it.

    Hi Anna,

    Yes, absolutely.  We don't discover and explore the dark side of the moon by going to Neptune.  "Lurking intangible nightmare," I like that.  Makes me think of wrong-headed psychoanalysis where a patient invents repressed nasties from the past because they have some misguided idea of what therapy is supposed to be.  I think there is a general idea out there (I say this because it's an idea I've only recently dismantled in myself) that the shadow elements we struggle to 'wake up to' are a kind of hurdle to hurry past--like whistling past the graveyard--so that we can get to the 'good stuff.'  But it's a much more organic kind of relationship than that.  Something recent in my life that kind of reflects this...

    A couple weeks ago, I went with a friend looking at used guitars.  I was thinking it would be nice to learn to play in my spare time.  While we were in one of the pawnshops, I saw a banged up dilapidated drumset, and I just lit up with excitement.  I've always wanted to play the drums, but as a kid they were too expensive, too loud, and too much trouble.  In the interim, I've just let the 'fantasy' go and moved on with life.  But I realized there is no reason to buy a guitar when what I really would rather have is drums.  But I waited.  I wanted to make sure it wasn't a passing fancy.  It wasn't.  To keep this short, I won't go into all the details, but I will say that through a very interesting string of coincidences I ended up getting an outstanding drumset at an unbeatable price.  As for how this relates to the shadow...

    Well, two weeks later, I'm still playing every day for at least an hour, usually two, and I am absolutely in love with this.  It's a fantastic doorway into Zen, for me, because I find that if I can't relax and still my mind, it is MUCH harder to play.   There are simply too many things going on all at the same time--using both feet and both hands independent of each other--to try to think about it.  And the relevant part is that I find that when I'm simply submitting to my shadow... in other words, when in the rest of my life I am passive and egotistical rather than striving for wholeness... then when I go to practice I just can't find the flow with my drums, and I don't practice as long or as productively, and it feels more like a struggle than a passion.

    It isn't always comfortable looking into the darker recesses of ourselves, but when we are willing to shoulder the burden that we had hitherto been dragging behind us like unacknowledged bastard children, the serenity and peace of Being is more within reach.

    Peaces and wholes,

     

    K

    P.S.  For anyone that knows something about drums, it's a Sonor Force 2001 kit, and I couldn't be happier.

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