Many people seeking emotional healing find life’s journey challenging, to say the least! We hit obstructions to living full, abundant, loving lives, and can’t seem to find a way through. We get caught up in our life experiences, in our “story,” and feel less than whole, separate and unfulfilled.
Understanding our shadow can be an invaluable aid to emotional healing. The shadow can be defined as those parts of ourselves pushed outside of our awareness, that we deny or even hide from. These unacceptable aspects of ourselves can include emotions such as anger and fear, our sexuality or qualities such as lying or betraying others.
When we are cut off from parts of ourselves we feel less than whole, and have a more limited capacity to grow. Emotional healing, growth and wholeness are about accepting these cut-off parts.
But the shadow is not just uncomfortable feelings and aspects of ourselves that we deny because they don’t fit our self concept. As followers of Carl Jung point out, the shadow is not all negative, but includes the positive aspects ourselves that we suppress...our “golden shadow.” These are parts of ourselves that are “too good to be true” so we hide them. Part of our emotional healing journey is to reclaim these parts.
Finding The Shadow
One way to begin to discover our shadow side is to look the qualities we see in others, especially those that we have strong feelings about. Are there some people we detest? Idolize? That make us angry or sad? Those feelings may hold the key to hidden parts of ourselves that we have disowned.
A good rule of thumb to find our suppressed parts: We project onto others those parts of us, golden or negative, that we deny.
Hidden In Plain Sight
As a body-oriented therapist I believe the shadow (and much of what we call the unconscious is hidden in plain sight.
The shadow is hidden in our bodies.
What we push out of awareness is right there in our bodies. The shadow is just below our ordinary awareness. It may reside in a tight jaw, an upset stomach, a pain in the neck or back. And even deeper, in our glands, organs and cells.
We can travel there through psycho-spiritual practices, dreamwork, psychotropic substances, breath work, meditation, and many other emotional wellness modalities.
With these methods we can also travel above our ordinary awareness, into higher realms associated with God. Light, Love and expanded states of consciousness.
Participants at our retreats experience these journeys, first down, below ordinary awareness into what we have suppressed, and then up as we reclaim ourselves and our awareness.
The true path to wholeness and emotional wellness is to first go down, as Dante and other world teachers remind us. To just imagine light is to rise up into the thin air, flying like Icarus on wax wings, we are bound to get burned by the light of the sun and crash, often in the rough emotional waters of our nature.
I know this from experience, I’ve tried to rise up in meditation to higher realms...and stay there. The problem with this is that we don’t really change and we remain ungrounded and unfulfilled when we return from the meditative high.
The higher realms are wonderful places to go, as a preview of Coming Attractions, but the real work is depth work, going into the unconscious, shadow material to transform it and awaken. And we’ve stored all that right here, in our bodies.
How convenient! It’s right here if we can learn how to unlock what is hidden in our bodies and reclaim ourselves.
Then, grounded in the earth of our bodies, our wholeness journey naturally expands upward as well, living into greater joy, passion and inspiration.
This is the work of reclaiming ourselves, present in our bodies, grounded yet able to soar.
The New Story
Our emotional healing retreats are intensive journeys to reclaim your life and your life force from the shadow places you have been caught in. To become whole.
If you find yourself feeling stuck, caught up in the past or with difficult feelings, the retreats can help you work it through. They can also help you find your next step in life.
The retreats build on a foundation of safety and Skills of Loving so that you can travel into and through the stuck places surrounded by a loving community and with deep, skillful support.
For more information about our retreats, go to Grief and Loss and Other Difficult Feelings Retreat or Breaking Through The Old Story Retreat (Shalom Retreat).