Updated: May 22
I have been wondering about shadow, those hidden places in our lives. How do we know where our shadow places are? Who helps us see our shadow? What practices do we have to help us excavate our shadow?
I am asking these questions after being on a Fire & Water alumni retreat over the past couple of days. All but four of us were able to make it. We spent a day and a half stretched over three days together in Kentucky by a private lake. It had been a year and a half since the end of our 16 month journey together and two years, in a covid kind of way, since we have been together in physical space.
I’m so touched that they each felt it important enough to be here, to come together again (this is a miracle). Important enough to take time out of their busy lives, to spend money for travel and lodging, to fly of drive across the country, and to rearrange all the things that need to be rearranged when we are away from home.
As I watch them come together, reconnected and take on some unfinished business that they were carrying with themselves, each other, the program, and with me I got to witness them seeing more of their shadow places. I got to see them see things that were invisible to them moments before. I got to witness enlightenment in action.
So, this had me wonder about the questions above because we all usually think we are seeing. So, how do we know? I believe it is a process of enlightenment and therefor a part of growing in consciousness. I think it’s often hard to see these places on our own because we don’t know what we don’t know. I also think it’s hard because most of us are living in very Eurocentric cultures that value knowing over curiosity, and think that higher consciousness equals greater value not just broader sight.
Here are some things that I have learned about working with shadow:
It’s easiest to see things that are at a lower consciousness level than where you are
We can’t see shadow at consciousness levels that are above us because we don’t know what we don’t know and often this is a great place for projection
We need each other to be able to see our own shadow
Our shadow places are just places we can’t see, they are nothing to be ashamed of but in growing consciousness something to seek out
We can grow consciousness bye becoming aware of our shadows but true transformation comes from being willing to not let our shadow places run the show.
Shadow work requires courage, our willingness or our willfulness effects the collective
One thing that I would add is that enlightenment isn’t just growth and/or a string of deep experiences but a transformation.
I am in deep joy at all the miracles I got to experience and in deep grief as I witness those who couldn’t, and the places they couldn’t because they are still living in the shadows. These past couple of days as I have opened to seeing more of what I haven’t been willing to see, I am transformed.