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Getting to Know our Shadow

Photo by Martino Pietropoli on Unsplash

Autumn is the time of year when we are embracing more darkness than light. We are taking the time to go within to recognize what is rising to the surface and what needs to shift. The energy of fall makes it easier for our shadow to emerge… but what is our shadow anyways?

Our shadow makes up a huge part of who we are and it has been journeying with us since birth. It consists of all of the parts of ourselves that we keep hidden and suppressed from the world.

As young children, we know and understand kindness, love, compassion, forgiveness, and generosity. We also understand greed, selfishness, and anger; but most of us learn that these qualities are wrong or unacceptable in society.

The parts of us that we deny as children get tossed behind us into what we can liken to a large garbage bag that we carry with us most of our lives. We try to ignore it, but the truth is, everything we experience is part of who we are. Every so-called good, bad, or neutral quality makes up our entirety as a human being.

The struggle is understanding how to let go of the story we have attached to our shadow qualities and choosing, instead, to embrace every single part of ourselves.

I took Shadow Training about 4 years ago. As a yoga teacher, and as a human being, I was shocked to learn that what I considered my “awful” or “bad” qualities actually had light in them. And that the more I suppressed parts of myself, the less I was whole, complete, and secure in who I was.

In my teacher training, we review the Shadow. It is an eye-opening experience for everyone in the course. Who wants to look at the parts of themselves that they don’t consider acceptable? It isn’t easy, but by the time the process is over, everyone is shining brighter than ever before.

When we begin to understand our Shadow, we start to take ownership and create acceptance of the entire person we really are. We realize that we are dualistic in nature and that everything we see in others lives in us as well. The magic of owning your shadow is that the qualities we don’t like in ourselves are those that hold the greatest power and can supercharge our quest to becoming whole.

Here are some things to consider around understanding your shadow…

1. The World as a Mirror

Everything that we see in front of us, observe, and judge is a projection. Take a moment and consider what you dislike in someone else. List the qualities. Consider... where have you shown these same qualities?

2. The Light

Our greatest shadow qualities are those that we project onto other people that we fall in love with or admire. Consider the traits of three people that you truly admire. List them and truly look at yourself and consider where you have shown these same qualities. They exist within you too!

3. Meditate

Yes. Meditate. It brings us so much self-awareness. It gives us an opportunity to calm our mind, relax our expectations, and get nice and comfortable with who we are at the core. Meditation will help shine the light on our shadow parts and bring them to the surface.

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