(a transcript from a recorded talk in The Way of Relationship Course, 2014-02-13)
On the spiritual path of authentic evolution, light work and shadow work go hand and hand. Oftentimes our awareness is that our experience seems to swing from one to the next. As we bring more light into our system, more and more energy, we naturally uncover more of our shadow side. And as we uncover more and more shadows we need to continue to bring in light so that we don’t get stuck in those shadows. And so, it’s really important in our daily spiritual practice to pay attention to both aspects of our being and to know when we need more light and when we need to do shadow work. Because a lot of shadow work without light work becomes heavy and burdensome. And a lot of light work without shadow work becomes a from of spiritual by-pass. We might be able to access high states in meditation and prayer but when we get back to our lives and our relationships we meet the same old conflicts.
What I mean by light work is those practices that we do that bring higher vibration energies into our bodies. We are energy beings and our destiny is to increase our frequency progressively as we live our lives and to move closer and closer to the frequency of pure spirit. In a sense this is naturally happening because the overall frequency of our planet is increasing. Because we live on the planet we are automatically affected by that. As the consciousness level of the planet increases it automatically will shift the frequency and increase the light that we receive in our beings. We don’t always feel it this way because when that happens the increased light illuminates our shadow side and so often it actually feels more challenging. I think one of the reasons why life seems very challenging for people these days is that in fact the overall consciousness level of the planet has increased, and we are being flooded by light, so that it’s impossible to ignore the discrepancy between the frequency level that we are living at and that of the energy field around the planet.
There are many other ways in which we can increase the light in our system and we’ve been doing some of these together in these classes. Meditation is the universal practice for increasing light used by many spiritual and religious traditions throughout the ages. Basically meditation is opening our receptors to receive as much light as we possibly can. As we settle beyond the details of our lives and bring our attention to this pure beingness, the receptors for that light are much more open. We feel expanded and spacious for example, maybe energies begin to move, and these are indicators that we are tapping into a higher frequency, we’re tapping into the spiritual realm, we’re tapping into the light.
Another way in which we can bring light into our system is through prayer. Prayer pierces holes in the walls of our current consciousness level and allows droplets of light to filter into our field from all around us. It’s a direct turning toward the divine, it’s a request, and it’s an asking. All you need to do is sincerely ask and you receive. You are flooded with the response to your prayers from all around you.
Another practice that can bring light into our system is contemplation. When we’re reading inspiring books or spiritual books oftentimes we come across passages that really move us. Some of them have become very popular for example ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. There’s something about what Gandhi said that is deeply inspiring. There are many sayings and quotes that circulate that somehow light us up inside. They’re touching a higher vibration, higher possibilities, within us. Maybe you’ve been reading a book and a certain line or paragraph moves you and you feel that something essential in you is being touched deeply. You can read the passage a few times and let yourself feel it in your body and then continue with your meditation.
Other ways that we can bring more light into our system is through habits that bring us joy and inspire us. It’s pretty universal that spending time in nature, for example, brings light into our beings. When we’re in nature, we’re not as disturbed by the frequencies that we are often bombarded with in our regular lives. In our homes and at work we have phone frequencies, computer frequencies, noise, televisions, visual reminders that keep us enmeshed in our regular lives. But nature is pure beingness, pure energy and by virtue of allowing ourselves to be immersed in it and taking in the smells and the colours and the sounds it brings in higher frequencies into our bodies. Often when we want to retreat, we do this in nature because we know that it will enhance our experience. People can have profound experiences when they deeply connect to nature.
Other things, like inspired artwork and music can bring light into our beings. We have all had the experience of listening to a piece of music, or watching a performance that moves us to tears, that cracks our hearts open. These things are resonating with higher frequencies within us and the tears flow because they dislodge sadness and other energies in our system.
We can also bring more light into our bodies with crystals, and plants in our home, and essential oils, colour therapy, keeping our home uncluttered, listening to inspirational programs, reading inspirational books, receiving massage, receiving energy work, receiving body work… these are all things that I think you know of.
Food is very important. Food is energy and when we bring in food that is whole, this is a higher frequency, it’s light. When we bring in food that is prepared with love, with consciousness, that has been grown with love and care for the land, the animals and the people it can profoundly affect us.
Of course all of us aspire to do these things. I think we all know what we ‘should’ be doing to feel balanced. And yet we also realize that part of us resists them. And which parts resist? Of course it’s our shadow side. We can want to have a high vibration lifestyle very strongly but until we are willing to take a look at our shadow side we won’t be able to manifest those wants into actual action because the shadow side is a very strong determinant of behavior, a strong determinant of how we react to challenges. No matter what we know and what we’ve done in the past that has made us feel good, sometimes every ounce of our being is resisting doing good things for ourselves. It’s a very curious thing and it can be frustrating because we think that we should know better. We don’t realize that we’re not making our choices with our minds, our desires or our ideals, we’re making our choices through the distortion of our shadow side.
The shadow is formed very early on in our lives, when certain aspects of our true nature are somehow denied by our family, by society, by culture, by our schooling. The emotions that we feel around that are also denied so that we begin to block certain aspects of our being, and certain emotional experiences in our system. As soon as we begin to feel fearful of aspects of ourselves, of certain emotions, or feel ashamed of them we begin to push these aspects of ourselves and these emotions into hidden places deep within ourselves. So if we’re ashamed for feeling certain things, or shamed for speaking our mind, or speaking what we feel is true, we begin to hide these tendencies, we begin to say what people want to hear, we begin to act in ways that get us the attention and the love and the approval that we so need as children.
These shadows are not only deeply hidden in our being but they also contain energies that are stagnant, that are circular, that aren’t free. Healthy energy is free and moving and evolving constantly. Energy has a momentum: it arises from nothing, it manifests, it expresses itself and returns to nothing. For many of us the energies get caught in transition and they never completely fulfill themselves. Even though these shadows were established very early on in life they begin to affect the way that we react to life well into adulthood because they becomes a lens through which we are interpreting life, seeing and interpreting ourselves and our own actions and what’s needed of us.
The main issue with these shadows is that they’re holding back certain lines of our development. As souls we are a creative impulse that is meant to express itself fully and eventually return back to pure consciousness. Certain lines of our development that are nurtured move forward and progress and mature. But we are not fully developed and fully mature adults because some lines of development are still stuck in the 3 year old perspective or the 7 year old perspective. When we are having recurrent challenges in our lives we can be sure that these shadows are at play. The reason they show up is that they want to be seen. Shadows always want to be brought into the light. We need to let go of seeking pleasure and resisting pain and instead focus on our spiritual development. On this path there is going to be a play between the light and the shadow. When we join courses like this, when we join the energy of a group it will for sure bring the shadows up to the surface. No two ways about it.
The most powerful thing we can do to set these shadow energies free is to be willing to see them, to be willing to feel everything, to be curious about the things we are denying in our experience, to be willing to be honest with ourselves about the patterns that we get into in relationships. To train ourselves to notice where we have tucked these shadow energies away in our bodies. In some ways the body is one of the greatest gifts for unearthing and setting these shadow energies free because we can literally feel them. We can literally feel them in our heart, in our throat, in our solar plexus, in the tension in our shoulders, in our belly. What we want to do is to bring our attention to these, both in our lives in general and our meditation practice. This is why in the beginning of our times together, I’m always encouraging you to start in your body. Generally where we hold tension in our system, which is of course unpleasant, is where the shadow is hiding.
Pure awareness, meaning awareness that is not interested in fixing or judging, is light, and it is one of the greatest solvents for these shadow aspects of ourselves. To allow whatever we find to be as it is. If irritation is arising, if anger is arising, if self-worth issues are arising, if self-hatred is arising, if fear is arising to be willing to meet them in your body and to find ways to give them your presence.
When your spiritual growth becomes your greatest priority then the willingness and the ability to do this becomes that much greater. If you’re all about feeling good, making your life so called better, then this path may not be for you because there will be times when it doesn’t feel good when you go into the shadows.
But what I can assure you of is that when the shadow is released all of that latent energy, that pure potential of your soul is released and many gifts, many talents, attributes, abilities, interests will be revealed as a result of clearing the shadow side because the shadows are blocking aspects of our true nature that were suppressed long ago. So there are many many gifts of doing this work, and as a guide on this journey this is why I encourage you so often, and I have to be reminded by my teachers over and over again, to be present with what’s arising, because no matter how much we know, we’re being asked to be present to a new layer and it tends to bring up all our resistances. We once again need to find our way to the place that is able to open to this new layer with trust.