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Journaling the Shadow

This is an excerpt from a book that I wrote several years and never got published.  This is a reflection on my late teens and early twenties, and how it resonated with the Sacral Chakra.  Following is an exercise to help you journal your shadow self.  Please enjoy the bits of youthful wisdom and the journaling exercise!

Most of the time lessons aren’t pleasant to live through.  Frequently, we look back and learn from what we don’t want to happen to us again!  We like to call these things ‘mistakes’.  But, how can it be a mistake if we’ve learned a lesson from it?

 Don’t look at your past and regret.  Look at your past and learn.

I felt so much shame during this part of my life.  I hid so much of my life from so many people.  I couldn’t tell my mother about how I made my living at one point.  I couldn’t really date.  I was petrified of what people would think of me.

Then I realized that it doesn’t matter what others think of me; what really matters is what I think of myself.  I finally was starting to understand that Shame plays no valid role in my life.

Be proud of all that you are and everything that you do.  If you can’t be proud, it isn’t an indicator that you should be ashamed of what you do.  It may be an indicator that it’s time to change an action or situation in your life.

I was frequently troubled by the people that surrounded me then.  I saw so many people that I didn’t wish to be like.  I also met some amazing people that I never thought that I could be like.  It wasn’t until I had distanced myself from the experiences of that time that I realized: We are all reflections of one another.

 When I saw an addict, that man was me.  When I ‘hated’ the drill instructor in boot camp for being cruel, I was actually hating my own cruelty.  When I pitied the people that I’d see, I was really pitying myself.

We are all so intrinsically connected, and all that we experience as reactions to another person is simply a reflection of a part of yourself.  By realizing this, you move your awareness and intention to a place of compassion.  The truest form of love and compassion is self love and self acceptance.

Journaling the Darker Half

Each of us has a shadow self.  All lights cast shadows, even the lights of our spirit.  To truly understand ourselves, we need to be in touch with both the light and it’s shadow.  I find the easiest and most comfortable way to do this is through journaling.  This eliminates the need for judgment and allows the shadow to claim a space on the page that is external to the writer.

Calm your mind at the end of the day.  You may wish to ground and center before doing this exercise.  Sit with your journal in front of you, making two columns on the page. Close your eyes and bring to mind something that agitated you, made you feel ashamed, made you angry or sad, or gave you another emotional reaction that you were uncomfortable with.  Write it down, and in the next column write how it made you feel. Repeat this, allowing everything to come pouring out.  You will want to repeat this part of the exercise for several days.  I like to do it for a full lunar month – new moon to new moon.  

            The longer you do this for, you start to notice a cycle in the columns.  There are certain themes that appear and reappear.  Your shadow will seem to wax and wane while you are journaling it.  Once you have journaled the shadow for the given time that you allotted, look through the different days entries.  Find an emotional reaction that appeared more frequently.  Ground, center, and surround yourself with white light.  While feeling relaxed, keep your eyes closed with your journal open to a new page in front of you.  Now, ask yourself “What lesson does (shadow emotion) have to teach me?  What can I learn from this situation?”  Journal the immediate response that comes to you, even if it sounds silly or seems unconnected.  Keep writing until the impulse seems to wane. Close the journal and review the entry at a later time.  You may wish to repeat this part of the process a few times, with several of the emotions that you’d experienced.

The trick to benefiting from this exercise is to suspend self judgment.  Everyone experiences shadow emotions.  Once you become aware of what it is that you’re experiencing, you will likely be surprised at your reactions.  The shadow exists to help us learn lessons about ourselves.  By journaling the shadow, we help the process to be a little bit easier.