Navigating Shadow Work with Grace

The Path to Enlightenment by Rohit Gowaikar via Creative Commons v.2.0

The Path to Enlightenment by Rohit Gowaikar via Creative Commons v.2.0

I have to apologize for the series of doom and gloom posts I’ve put out over the last several weeks. My usual demeanor is sunny and fiercely optimistic—my natural state. I think the end of 2014 was tough for a lot of people. Some family and friends of mine faced some of the hardest times of their lives. Though my challenges were less critical, I had my fair share too. I thought with the New Year we’d be starting afresh, but many challenges continued in these first two weeks of 2015. I guess the energies of the universe aren’t in alignment with our Gregorian Calendar; it didn’t get the memo that we’re all supposed to start over in the New Year.

I just wanted to take a moment to talk about practicing grace while experiencing tension. My spiritual practice focuses a lot on mindfulness, that is, in paying attention to the world both outside and within me; bringing awareness to my thoughts and emotions. My mindfulness practice is especially helpful when I’m in a place of tension. When I talk about tension I’m referring to a state of being that is negative or low vibration. In basic terms, there are two states, that which is in alignment with Source (God, the Universe, whatever you want to call it) and that which is in tension. I sometimes call this light and shadow. It is another form of polarity (positive/negative, masculine/feminine, yin/yang, etc.)

My mindfulness practice has helped me to quickly recognize tension, and more importantly, to accept it and maybe even welcome it. When you lack mindfulness, it’s difficult to feel negative emotions without them dragging on you. If you ever find yourself wallowing or throwing the proverbial pity party, this is because you have not brought awareness to the problem. One mistake a lot of New Agers make is in believing that alignment with Source is right, and resisting Source is wrong. I don’t believe that to be true. I believe that both resonate from Source. That it’s two sides of the same coin. Much of our work is done in the space between low and high vibration living. We experience hard times, we face challenges, we act out of alignment with God, then we try and do better. It’s how the work gets done. Yes, we want to reach enlightenment and live fully in high vibration, but the means for getting there is by exploring lifetimes full of opportunities for spirit growth.

So while these last few weeks have been fraught with back-to-back challenges (stress at work, worry for sick loved ones, the loss of a dear family member) having conscious awareness has been so helpful. When things are at their worst I think to myself, “Self: experiencing this will make me a more compassionate person.” We often use empathy to ground us in compassion. That’s all well and good, but there is nothing quite like trudging through the darkness yourself to give you perspective. I also believe it will serve me well later, when the people I love have to trudge through their own muck. I wish I could remember where I heard it, but a couple of weeks ago someone rhetorically asked, (paraphrasing) “How can you talk to your kid about self-esteem if you’ve never felt insecure?” I’ve been repeating that to myself over and over. This idea is so beautiful because it gives these times of resistance purpose. We’ve all heard, “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” Yes, that’s true, but why? How? It makes us stronger because we can use the perspective we gain to grow in our soul journey, and to share with others in compassion and love.

So, while I am consciously appreciating the purpose of all this shadow work, I am certainly looking forward to easier times. I’m hoping that this weekend, as we bury my uncle and grieve as a family, I will be moving into happier days ahead. I’m looking forward to starting the year anew, expanding my spiritual practice and living consciously and compassionately. I’m hoping that I can get through this with grace and that that grace will carry me beyond.

If you’re in the throws of shadow work right now, may you be blessed with light and love and if you’re are enjoying the good times, appreciate them and live them fully.

Blessings. ∞


This week, Tim talked a bit about the polarity of shadow integration vs. light and how we should accept the shadow as part of the process, as it was intended to be. I love this video as it was well aligned with what I was talking about today. Enjoy.

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