We all have parts of ourselves that we'd rather keep hidden in the "shadows" of our being, so that others can't see it, but if we shine some light on those shadows, we may free up some blocked energy and might even find the gift in them.
Shadow work is the personal growth work of taking a look at the parts of you that you don't want anyone else to see or know about you. You don't want to show them because they feel embarrassing, humiliating, or maybe you're just protective about them because that's what helped you survive your early life. It makes perfect sense that we make the decision not to show these shadowy places as there are usually real reasons we decided to keep them hidden in the first place. The trouble is, what we don't want to show and can't embrace about ourselves creates energy blocks in our system keeping us stuck, not only only in that one area, but can affect other areas as well. Opening ourselves up to all parts of ourselves, even the shadows, can help us find a fresh perspective. One example is feeling stupid. If this feels like something we need to hide in order to get by, it can block us from letting in things we might want or need to know. No matter how smart we are, we don't know everything and we don't need to. Embracing any place we feel stupid and welcoming it, frees us up to learning something new, to being open to new thoughts and ideas.
If we pretend that we always know, we're not open to alternative perspectives and information that we might actually want or need in order to figure something out or move forward in a particular area. Shining some light on the shadow of feeling stupid might also bring us to a different understanding of ourselves. Maybe we feel stupid thinking about something only with our intellect because we are more adept at using our intuitive senses. Embracing this shadow might offer us more confidence and understanding about our own voice while letting us stay open to what others have to offer. There can be a real freedom in not knowing, not having to know, not having the answer.
What we resist, persists...we all have old patterned places that are unresolved, and we may react from the old places rather than from the present if those places are not worked through. Much of what is rolling around in our psyche on a daily basis is from when we were much younger and we build up patterns around those places that can be like shadows as well. If we are reacting to things based on old patterns, we are reacting from the perspective of that inner child, who is holding on to the perspective that enabled them to survive whatever experiences they had. But we have new information and new experiences now to hold up to the past and know that that old perspective no longer serves us. We will tend to feel it exactly the same way we did when we were that younger age, but we're not that age anymore. It's kind of funny actually to think that we are operating sometimes from the perspective of that 2, 5, 11 year old. We want to honor our inner child because the decision they made got us through, and helped us survive. When we are younger, we don't have all the information we need to understand everything that's happening in our lives, so confusion and patterns can set in. It's fruitful to look at those and break them down, release them, clear them out, so we can operate from a new perspective. Whatever is there, it's all really ok. Anything that comes up, is just an opportunity to clear it. Operating in shadow or pattern, can feel like "this is how things are because it always happens this way". It always happens this way because energy is stuck. It's always going to feel the same way until that energy moves or changes or is unstuck, so we know the perspective outside of the misconception, outside of the pattern we have developed. We will make relationships based on that perspective as well. When we do that, we're trying to clear that energy. We can be pulled toward situations that are a repeat of many times prior. Our soul and spirit want to clear that energy, wants us to stop resisting and may pull us towards it looking for the opportunity to shift it. "Maybe this time I can change the way this goes", might be the subconscious thought fueling our actions.
We are an accumulation of our experiences and that is all ok. Even traumatic experiences have shaped us, given us a particular perspective. Embracing all of what has happened to us and finding ways to incorporate that into our lives consciously, rather than subconsciously or unconsciously can have profound effects on how we think, perceive, live. We don't have to know all the details to understand how shadows are affecting our lives, we just have to find our courage and curiosity and be open to taking a look at them. Ultimately, we want to incorporate all of who we are into our lives, and be able to discern which parts are useful at any given moment and which are not, creating awareness and possibility.
Yoga and meditation practices can sometimes bring up thoughts and feelings wanting to be released. If something comes up, we may need to do something more after our yoga class to clear that thing out completely. But we don't have to jump over things that come up in yoga or meditation, they can be places to work through them. For some people, a personal practice, or one on one practice can facilitate that more than a group class setting. But it's always ok to release and let go anything that comes up, as we hold emotions in our physical bodies. It comes up because it's ready to be released, let go.
What is a part of yourself that you keep hidden in the shadows? Take some time this week to try embracing it, see if you can find the other side of it, the side that is actually useful. See if you can clear out some of that stuck energy so you can operate more fully from a new perspective. All of you matters, let the light shine on it, warm it up and welcome it!