We are born whole and complete, but we slowly learn to live fractioned lives, accepting some parts of our nature but rejecting and ignoring other parts. These are just a few examples. In fact, many of the spiritual and new age teachings out there provide an escape for those who do not want to be responsible for the entirety of themselves and their lives. Many spiritual and religious movements completely ignore or condemn the darker elements such as anger, vengeance, control, fear, shame, competitiveness, jealousy, and lust.
Plato's Best-Known Metaphor About Enlightenment
But this is a tragic mistake with dire consequences. The more our darkness is avoided, the more it grows within us, waiting like a volcano to gush out at any unexpected moment. Yet from my own experience, this is a form of spiritual bypassing : using spirituality to avoid everything uncomfortable within us instead of facing it with honesty and courage.
Furthermore, actually turning toward your Shadow Self helps you to embrace these disconnected parts of yourself, creating more psychological and spiritual balance wholeness. Denying your darkness only creates chaos and disharmony. To integrate an inner quality is to take ownership and responsibility for it, rather than rejecting or denying it.
The benefits are many: sanity, healing, greater compassion, calmness, understanding, and wholeness are all to be found in integration. This is why integration is so essential: it helps us to become whole again. Throughout history, the left has always been associated with dark, radical or sinister elements.
The right-handed path seeks to improve the personal self, overcome its flaws, but the left-handed seeks investigation, seeks to face the shadows in its pursuit of self-care. Just as is represented in the ancient symbol of the Yin and Yang, when you balance both opposites, the dichotomy of right and left will disappear. Personally, I like to think that first there was darkness. Unlike light, darkness is infinite. Under every rock, you will find darkness, but light and darkness need each other to come into existence.
Unless you learn to first embrace that darkness within yourself, you can never pursue the light of self-love in a balanced way. Unless the foundation of your home is solid and stable, no matter how beautifully you decorate and work on the house itself, sooner or later your house will collapse and crumble down. All of us carry demons inside. Sometimes we catch fleeting glimpses of them, sometimes we witness them in full frontal chaos, but for the most part, we ignore and bury their existence either out of fear, guilt or pure shame.
Discovering our demons is a vital part of inner work. Our inner demons come in many different shapes and varieties. This person displays the following characteristics: arrogance, egocentricity, pompousness, inconsiderateness, self-indulgence, narcissism, excessive pride.
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Root cause: fear of life, others, and self; desire to regain control. This person displays the following characteristics: paranoia, obsessiveness, suspiciousness, finicky, demanding, masochistic, compulsive behavior. This person displays the following characteristics: secretive, impulsive, frivolous, irresponsible, deceitful, unreliable.
This person displays the following characteristics: moody, melodramatic, manipulative, weepy, overemotional, impulsive, changeable. This person displays the following characteristics: suspicious, jealous, possessive, bossy, obsessive. Root cause: protection against feeling too vulnerable. This person displays the following characteristics: negative, overcritical, patronizing, resentful, cantankerous. Root cause: fear of others, mistrust of life, closed heart. This person displays the following characteristics: ruthless, vengeful, bitchy, quick-tempered, quarrelsome.
Root cause: fear and rejection of the unknown, chaos, and ego death. This person displays the following characteristics: uptight, intolerant, obstinate, uncompromising, inflexible, narrow-minded.follow url
What Begins After the End of the Enlightenment? - Journal #96 January - e-flux
This person displays the following characteristics: superficial, cunning, inconsistent, sly, crafty. Root cause: buried grief, fear, and shame numbness is a defense. This person displays the following characteristics: emotionally detached, distant, indifferent, uncaring, unexcited. Root cause: repressed sexual energy, possible unresolved childhood wounds.
This person displays the following characteristics: sadistic, lustful, depraved, corrupt. Root cause: refusal to grow up, lack of individuated ego.
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This person displays the following characteristics: puerile, petty, immature, illogical, simpleminded, vacuous. How many of these inner Monsters can you relate to?
Fairy Tale of Enlightenment: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light
Keep in mind that this list only explores the dark side of the shadow, not the light side where the positive repressed qualities of our nature are buried. If we face up to our dark side, our life can be energized. If not, there is the devil to pay. Many religions symbolize these experiences well. When I write about embracing or integrating your shadow self, I do not mean to indulge in any desire that arises within you. Indulging your anger, for instance, will simply result in more anger. Accepting your darkness will allow you to take responsibility for yourself, and once you truly acknowledge one of these dark traits instead of avoiding them, suddenly, they will stop having control over you.
By being honest with ourselves and accepting our shadow elements, it frees us up to truly witness the uncharted areas of our minds, allowing us to see that we are not these elements, but simply possess thoughts, feelings, and drives that come and go. To completely experience self-love we must learn to honestly face our Shadow Selves, and voyage into the dark, murky waters of the unknown courageously. It is not an indulgence of the darker parts of our natures, but an acceptance and direct experience of them in the light of mindful awareness and deep honesty.
This is the entire opposite of many self-denying traditional spiritual methods of subduing, denying, or ascetically disciplining the self. To live differently as is the aim and motivation of this website , is to be authentic. And in order to be authentic, we have to face and embrace all parts of our inner selves — that which is culturally uncommon or bizarre. Exploring your darkness is not necessarily all doom and gloom. There are several different ways to get to know and explore your Shadow.
I explore some simple shadow work practices below:. Art is the highest form of self-expression and also a great way to allow your Shadow to manifest itself. Simply get a blank piece of paper, find a quiet place, and turn your attention inwards. Even the strangest mental images or scenarios can hold a seed of wisdom, helping to reveal hidden feelings, thoughts, or memories.
Make sure you approach this activity non-judgmentally and with an open mind. So be gentle and receptive. Allow whatever to arise, arise. His story details the life of a Professor who becomes so separated and overwhelmed by his Shadow that he comes to the verge of suicide, only to realize that the redemption of the Ego is solely possible if the Shadow is redeemed at the same time.
Writing a story where you project your Shadow elements onto the characters is a great way to learn more about your inner darkness. This practice will help shine a light on the bright and darker elements of your nature. Reading through your journal entries can also help you recover the balance you need in your life, and accept both light and dark emotions within you. The Shadow describes the part of the psyche that an individual would rather not acknowledge. Projection also helps us to avoid taking responsibility for ourselves and instead helps us to make others the culprits and scapegoats for our unresolved issues.
Related Fairy Tale of Enlightenment: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light
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