Updated: Feb 16, 2021
Something profound happened in my intuitive writing class this morning.
“What the heck is an intuitive writing class, you ask?” This is my current modality for healing and deep inner work.
Each class we are given something to read and if we choose we can use the piece as inspiration for our own contemplation and expression or we can choose to write about whatever come to mind. Today, we read a poem by Mary Oliver, “To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”
It was a beautiful poem filled with poignant words but at first, I didn't connect with it. I had to reread the poem with an open heart to gain an emotional appreciation for this piece. As I reread this part of the stanza, I felt an intuitive sensation - like a soft bell jingling. (If you've read my previous blogs, you know that is a reason for me to dig deeper.)
“Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
the dancer, the potter,
to make me a begging bowl
which I believe
my soul needs.
And if I come to you,
to the door of your comfortable house
with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,
will you put something into it?”
I pondered the question while I sat by the fire in my comfortable home. The answer expressed with the most compassionate tone I can summon, “Yes! Of course, I will help you!”.
However, I noticed a shadow side that I am not proud of. A part of me that I tuck away and repress because it doesn’t align with my chosen conscious attitude.
My true response comes from my shadow self. The truth is, I would initially feel disgusted and afraid because a dirty person is approaching me and I would feel violated because this dirty person is now at my front door begging.
I found this dichotomy in me fascinating but I had to ask myself, “ Why is my shadow self wanting to be seen now?”
Perhaps it’s the season. We’re approaching the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. As nature starts slowing, the trees drop their leaves, going inwards, rooting down and the wild animals begin to slow down and some prepare for hibernation. I also feel the pull of the season, I feel the need to slow down and go within to look at my shadows. I know that the deep emotional experience I have from illuminating my shadows holds valuable wisdom.
Inner work is hard but wonderfully liberating when you reach the other side. However, shadow work is even more challenging. It requires pure honesty, true vulnerability, and the most courageous act of bravery to yourself.
We all have a shadow self and the goal isn’t to push it down or eliminate it. It is to integrate and allow the positive side of exploring shadows to express.
If the shadow self consists of negative emotions, like greed, rage, and jealousy, why would we want to integrate it? Well, there is a downside to not embracing your shadow self. According to The Unconscious Mind written by Bargh & Morsella, “The shadow can operate on its own without our full awareness. It’s as if our conscious self goes on autopilot while the unconscious assumes control.”
Have you ever reacted from an internal visceral space? Regrettably, I recently have. I still don’t fully understand what happened but it triggered very strong emotions, I dumped my feelings and thoughts onto the person as if I were hurling rocks at them not caring if it was warranted or not. This reaction came from my shadow self and needs illumination because if I tuck it away again, it will not only affect this relationship but all relationships I have.
How do you start looking at your inner shadows? The first step to identify your shadows is to observe and be curious. It is said people can be mirrors for us. Have you ever been irritated by someone who is judgmental? Perhaps, you need to own the moments you were judgmental. Owning isn’t just taking responsibility for the action but it is also leaning in, starting a dialogue with yourself, and understanding the emotions surrounding the action. Journal what comes up for you during this work. It’s a tool to become aware of your shadow self and see any patterns that may arise.
My writing instructor, Dina Varellas said the phrase “Choose Happiness” is one of her pet peeves, as if one can flip a switch and be happy. It takes work and shadow work is not easy, it isn’t fun and it is painful. They say the truth hurts and even more so when you are uncovering the wounded self. But as you do this work of illuminating your shadows, and transmute them into wisdom, you will find happiness. You will be able to make conscious decisions on how to respond to the world around you. You will be more authentically you.
Carl Jung said it best when he said "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate."
As always, Be Well, Be Radiant, and Be You!
If you would have told me a year ago I would be writing my own blogs and loving it...I would have said "That's a load of 💩!" I didn't have the self confidence to write and didn't feel I was worthy of having that self confidence. I was terrified when I said yes to the class and embarrassed when I read my first piece aloud. However, Dina says that every person is a writer and I know this is truth!
The Intuitive Writing Class helped me find my voice and joy in the written word. However, it's Dina who holds a safe and sacred space to not only write and explore but to heal. I know you feel the nudge, check out Dina and find out more about the Intuitive Writing Class! http://dinavarellas.com
The stanza above is from Mary Oliver's book Evidence. I included an Amazon link to the book below. Feel free to flip through the preview pages.
I happened to search by her name and found another one of her works that I am eager to read Dog Songs. It's all about the fur babies! If you already read it, shoot me a review, I would love to know your thoughts!