August 14, 2020

The Key to Being True to Ourselves: Learning to Love & Embrace our Shadow Selves.


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Our modern life is filled with distraction, but nothing feels more incredible than stopping to feel the present moment.

Dropping into stillness is something we can continue to practice—not just now, but as a practice.

Perhaps living in balance means that we turn off the news for a bit, sit in the garden, or listen to the music that speaks to our hearts the most.

Let’s not make our problems worse by adding to the fear in the world.

I was at the supermarket last night, and this dear older lady seemed confused and only had a few dollars to pay her bill. As she was looking for her credit card, the gentlemen next to me gave the checkout person a 20 dollar bill to cover it.

I was touched beyond measure—a flood of tears and emotion touched my heart.

At that moment, I knew that I was part of something much greater than what the surface level of our lives appear to be. I turned to him, and barely being able to get the words out said, “May you always have things in abundance.”

This was something I remember my yoga teacher saying when miracles like this would become the moment. In those few moments, that man in the grocery store taught me that the world is safe, that more good happens in it, and that together we can be the change—through our actions.

Whenever we have powerful, turbulent events in the world, as we do today, it is easy to feel disempowered. And if our reference point for reality is on the outside of ourselves, it’s easy to become the victim of circumstances.

Giving away our power like “it’s only the other people who are in charge,” isn’t healthy for us.

From a spiritual standpoint, everything in the periphery of our life is there to remind us that the work is on the inside. Perhaps we are being asked to up our game in understanding that our reference point for reality is the inner world? That being in alignment comes from the inside-out, and not from the outside-in.

On a retreat in Bali a few years ago now, I sat alongside the lotus pond and looked at the blooming flowers. It was clear in my mind’s eye that the mud represented my early life and that it’s possible to emerge from the mud into an exquisite flower.

In fact, flowers and mud have never been separated from each other—or from their source. Deep inner work is the true meeting of oneself; it is true communion with the light and the shadows. Not as a judgement, but more as an acceptance of “what is” there. The understanding of what we are here to work with—our inner work.

Most of us tend to project out our disowned shadows. Going into the basement of these shadows requires courage, and in the end, no one is “let off the hook.” After all, this is what it means to be human.

And the rewards of this work are living more authentically and being true to ourselves.

Misunderstandings become less and the acceptance of oneself becomes a high priority. This could mean a lifetime of growth and understanding, a journey into the unknown, and something that is not an overnight process. To feel wholeness means to taste all the parts of the orange and not just the sweetest parts. It is illuminating our true beauty, not as becoming perfect, but in becoming whole.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ Carl Jung

You’ve probably heard the saying: “it’s not what happens to you; it’s how you react to it.” Keeping a sense of calm and equanimity is important now more than ever.

Our immune system is strengthened by an inner fortitude of wellness, and stress is something that depletes our body’s defenses. Whenever you notice your mental health declining, just do one small thing that brings you some calmness. Maybe it is making a cup of tea, taking a short walk, chatting with a friend, or feeling the sun’s rays across your face. One little movement can be all that is needed to remember that we live in an impermanent world and that this too will change.

I remember listening to a talk from Jack Kornfield. He spoke of a story that Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh told of the crowded refugee boats: “If even one person on the boat stayed calm, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.”

As we courageously put one foot in front of the other, may we walk through this portal with little to no luggage and embrace it all with love.



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