You and your shadow – One day, years ago, when my son was not quite two years old, he and I were walking with my cousin along the dirt road in front of her lakefront home. It was on that walk that my little boy discovered his shadow.
It was a delight for my cousin and me to see him catch sight of this thing on the ground that seemed to be following him. He observed it for a long time and then, the next thing we knew, he was lifting his little, red-sneakered foot off the ground and shaking it vigorously while he balanced himself on the other foot, trying to get rid of that shadow!
He kept this up for most of the walk, with us smiling and giggling quietly as we walked behind this cute little guy who was in the process of discovering something really cool about the physical world.
It occurred to me recently that we are much like that when it comes to our own shadow. And no, I don’t mean the one that’s cast on the sidewalk as we walk down the street! Of course I’m talking about our psychological shadow, and exactly like our physical shadow, it’s always pointed AWAY from us, towards someone or something else. Someone or something else we can blame for how we feel.
We can catch sight of it out of the corner of our eye, or it comes at us in full frontal attack mode, AS IF it’s really coming from someone else – someone we are experiencing as annoying, maddening, threatening or worse.
And we try like mad to get it off of us, don’t we? Just like my little boy. Because the last thing we want is that THING following us around, making us feel bad.
So, if our psychological shadow is made up of the parts of us we don’t like and don’t want to acknowledge are ours, then how DO we deal with it?
Well, you may have noticed that we can best see our shadow on the ground when the source of light is behind us, or slightly off to the side. Then the shadow is sharp, clear and totally visible to us. And it really does seem to be pointing at someone or something outside of us as the culprit.
If the light source is in front of us, coming at us as in that full frontal attack experience, then we’re not even aware of our shadow, because it’s behind us.
The last thing we want leading us in our lives, is our shadow with its blaming agenda, although it’s at that precise moment that we get a very clear picture of what in ourselves needs to be loved and integrated and of course, that’s whatever the shadow is pointing at!
But even more challenging are those times when our shadow is following us, and we don’t even know it because we’re way too busy blaming someone else for the way we feel.
Are you getting the picture? Good.
So here is the solution to this whole shadow issue: if the light source is INSIDE OF YOU, then there is no shadow. Let me say that again: if you are shining the light of love from your own heart, then there is no shadow cast. Ever. No shadow in front, none on the side, none behind. No shadow, period.
A t that moment, ALL of you is invited to come along in full light and full awareness.
The idea here is to remember that when, through your growing awareness of the unskillfulness of blaming others, you DO perceive your shadow around you, all you need to do is:
Choose to open your heart,
Choose to shine the light from within your own heart,
and choose to embrace all of you, even….
…actually especially, the parts of you that you don’t like so much.
This is an essential step on the path to Joy because Joy is the product of an open heart.
Light shines from an open heart, and no shadows are cast when you are shining your own light. So, how, you ask, do I do that? How do I open my heart? How do I shine my own light? How do I embrace all of me?
It all starts with an intention. Set the very clear intention to do those things. And then ask yourself the following question “how would I be different if I did those very things?” When you know the answer, begin to act just exactly that way. Perhaps you realize that if you did those things that I’m suggesting, you would feel lighter. So reach around for a lighter feeling right now.
Maybe you would relax, or smile, or forgive someone for something in the past. So then, do that now, right now, just inside of you. The thought of blessing someone may spring to your mind. Let that happen.
The point is to imagine the changes that opening your heart and shining your light would create, and to act as if those things had ALREADY changed. Give yourself the gift of imagination. Your thoughts become your reality. So think about the vision of you with an open heart and be that, right here, right now. And remember this is a ‘from the inside out” job.
As you do this more and more with the clear intention to dispel shadows and move more and more into the light of self-acceptance, you will see magic happen in your life. Try it and see.
© 2006 Janice Masters