The Shadow As Teacher

The greatest lessons we can learn come from the shadow part of ourselves. Without the darkness there is no light. Embracing all that we don't understand about ourselves, or all the scares us, is one of the greatest gifts we are given. "Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so". Thanks Will Shakespere. Once you set upon a path of self-discovery you will encounter the darkness of your heart and soul. It's in there. I know it, you know it. Do you flee or do you stand and face it? And, are you ready to face it? Sounds so ominous, doesn't it? THE DARKNESS of your soul. The black heart of every man, woman and child. Religion would lead us to believe this is the "sinful" part of ourselves. I disagree. It is the part of oursleves that will yield the greatest growth, and it's a sure path that will lead out of darkness and into the light...truth, awareness, love and all that good stuff. The darkness is good too, don't get me wrong. The darkness has been associated with negativity for too long in my book, but you don't need to believe me or accept anything I say here. I simply write from my heart, and my heart has taken a walk on the dark side before. Stepping into the light is such a glorious thing, but it doesn't come without shadows. Shadows will chase you, sort of like the one on the sidewalk as you walk in the sun. Light/dark, see, they go together. Let's reframe the darkness. How would you recognize the light without it? Seriously, how would you even know the light has been turned in a room if you weren't standing in the dark for a moment?

When I was a child I was terrified of a dark room. There were monsters in there of course, and they were just waiting to eat me alive. I knew it, I could hear them breathing. Well don't you hear some of your own demons breathing down your neck daily? "Am I good enough"?, "Will they love me forever"?, "Can I make it in life"?, "Will I have enough to live on"?, "When will I die"? On and on, whatever your personal fears may be, they will stalk you. Last year I faced many of these dark shadowy thoughts, and the way I did it involved my sitting outside at night, in the wee hours of the morning, propped up against the tree in my backyard. My senses became aware of every sound, every creak of a branch, the soft fall of a leaf, the footfall of a small creature, and the thoughts I always feared came rushing to the forefront. The darkness enveloped me in a way that allowed me to let it all "be". No one could see me, no one was there to tell me how stupid my idea was to sit in the dark in my backyard all night. And no one knows I did this until now. For what it's worth, it was a path out of my hell.

After a while, and I did this three nights in a row, the darkness became my friend. My eyes longed for the comfort of darkness. My heartbeat could be heard, soft and steady, and I found comfort in hearing myself living and breathing in this dark space. I was keenly alive in a way that only utter darkness can provide. In my attempt to get away from it all, I sought an empty space devoid of the glare of my current life situation. In that space I found I could be comfortable with my dark side. As the thoughts came up one by one, I got to where I could acknowledge them and let them go, then await the next one that came. One by one I met my fears. Even now when I am fearful, I go into the darkness. It's a metaphor I use, I go into the heart of what I really fear and I ask it what it needs to teach me. The shadow side of ourselves has gifts to bring us. Darkness is comforting to me now, both literally and figuratively. My eyes seek the velvety comfort of blackness, and my heart awaits the fears that surface and come to me seeking motherly care. A mother tends gently to the wounded child. Tend gently to yourself as well. All that shadows need are a light to shine on them, then they flee away, laughing....for they are finally free.

Summertime affords a lovely opportunity to sit outside at night and take in the velvety blackness of the Universe. You can met your Teacher there in that darkness. You can ask, listen, and dispel the shadows that haunt you. Then stand, walk into the light....and be free.

Until next time....blessings upon your heart



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