The Shadow Self
Today is my birthday! ….and with June as my birthday month making me a Gemini, I must admit that the whole ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ thing is quite an apt description …and I’m really quite ok with that. After all, we humans are multi-faceted beings, with many traits, all mushing around this DNA soup of ours that makes us all who we are.
It’s a bit of a shame, then, that we are taught and expected to live 100% of the time in the brightness of the light, forgetting that there is actually much wisdom to be gleaned from the dark or shadows. Day and night both exist – surely then, we are to make the best of both of these?
Each lunar month, we experience both the light and the dark – just speak to any woman who is beholden to her monthly cycle! The first half of the month, when feeling energised, you feel unstoppable, as though you can pretty much do anything, anytime. The problem we have is that many of our high-performing individuals are conditioned to show up with this type of behaviour all the time, and that we “should” be able to sustain this standard, indefinitely.
The thing is, we can’t – and it’s taken me until this ripe old age to finally figure that one out! Our bodies, literally, cannot operate at the same pace, 100% of the time, whatever age we may be. That’s why we have this intermittent yearning to rest and restore. An every-so-often need to pull out the plug, so that we can recharge physically, emotionally and spiritually, may seem a strange way of describing this, but it is essentially what needs to happen.
This other side is our shadow half, as opposed to the bright, everyday side we show when we’re at our supposed best. The shadow half is not wrong, bad or negative – it simply exists – and when our energy wanes, our entire being is called inwards for some much-needed, quiet reflection and recuperation.
The word, shakti, exists in the Bengali language of my parents – a word I used to hear as a child growing up in my family, meaning strength, resilience and all things related to robustness. Shakti is ever-present in the Indian sub-continent and comes from the ancient Sanskrit language, meaning life-force energy. In its truest sense, Shakti is an uncontrollable force, wild, a law unto itself, one that cannot be tamed. It is the fuel that powers all of creation! ……and for you film buffs out there, I’m sure you can remember that terrifying scene from ‘Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom’, when shakti was demanded from the goddess, Kali-Ma……just as a human heart was about to be plucked out from within the victim’s chest!! Aagghh!!!!
When we acknowledge our shadow, this is when we begin to learn who we really are. It is healthy and wise to do so, because denying its existence only leads to pain. The suppressed shadow shows up as imbalance and illness, physical ailments and disease. Interesting…..when we consider that the outer world is a mirror of our inner turmoil: sadly, this is precisely what is being witnessed as the experience of planet Earth’s people right now.
Most of us avoid our shadows because this is where shame-related issues and symptoms live. As a result, our egos are expending so much of this precious life-force energy on maintaining a façade, persona or front, that there is very little left with which to live a truly authentic life. The material, physical attachments become so fierce and visceral that the one true thing that really matters – our spirit or soul – is completely forgotten.
Our shadow holds the key to what keeps us small. It’s what holds us back, so we mustn’t ignore it – we need to embrace it – it will keep prodding us, whatever we do, so we might as well get to know it! It doesn’t discriminate – when you finally realise this and that all the things you’ve been trying to avoid are actually the things that will set you free, then, my friends, you will have mastered your life!
As I continue to enjoy my ongoing journey of spiritual growth, here’s to wishing myself a very happy birthday and, to you all, much love and happiness – live long & prosper.