In anything that we do, the shadow side of our personality often gets sidelined for the part of us that is more ‘acceptable’ to society. If we don’t acknowledge the shadow part of our personality, it rears its head with the people and the situations that we manifest in our lives.
If we are polarized, we become like a magnet drawing towards the opposite pole and as a result, we attract others who personify our rejected shadow. Think of the people that challenge you most in your life such as your boss, co-workers, siblings, parents, children, friends or lovers – what part of their personality do they embody that is actually a reflection of a part of you?
If we have rejected our own personal power, our boss is likely to be a bully, as we need to learn to stand up for ourselves. If we are generous and kind to a fault, we are more likely to meet someone that is frugal and withholding so that we implement boundaries in our life.
Our shadow will inevitably roar up from a situation that either makes us uncomfortable or in a setting when we are ready to shift a belief structure that no longer supports us. “One does not become enlightened by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious” Carl Jung.
We learn to do this in yoga via the times we are uncomfortable or struggling to ‘get’ into a pose despite the fact that we have consciously placed ourselves in a situation where our comfort zone is challenged. In Kundalini Yoga especially, the yoga set we do is designed specifically to target the meridian lines of the body that give energy to our vital organs & nervous system. If the meridian line we’re working is on has been weakened for whatever reason, we sometimes find it difficult to hold the posture for the necessary 2 -5 minutes, until our nervous system strengthens.
Through my kinesiology practice, I am blessed to learn so much through my clients that shift their cellular memory all the time. One of my clients talked about how much her shadow comes up for her during her yoga practice. “I know this isn’t very spiritual, but I find myself feeling jealous of those around me that move effortlessly from posture to posture while I’m in the back sweating profusely and still struggling with a basic sun salutation.”
We were chatting about this in depth last week during her kinesiology session when something interesting came up for her – her predisposition to comparing herself to others isn’t limited to just her yoga class, but to many different facets of her life. Her job as a Sales Manager means that she is constantly in an environment based on pressure and competition. As far as her Regional Director is concerned, she’s really only as good as the last target she exceeded.
Due to the lack of nurturing in her consuming work environment, she had found that she was starting to extend her competitiveness to other facets of her life such as her yoga class and even petty comparisons with her friends. The shadow emotion of jealousy would emerge in situations when she was ‘not in the lead, or winning’.
Sometimes our shadow qualities are met with harsh criticism and judgment, which is then projected onto others. If anger is a rejected part of us for instance, we will fear and criticize it in others. If we tend to suppress or emotions, we will fid it difficult to be around others who are needy or emotionally expressive as its uncomfortable to be around someone that freely expresses our shadow energies.
My friends and I joke about the fact that I have befriended my OCD tendencies *. When we find ourselves in social situations where I’m tested, I make light of the situation by saying things like, “ooh, my OCD isn’t happy about the fact that there are an uneven number of cushions on that sofa, but I’ve chosen to make an exception just for this day”
Often there are retorts that are just as lighthearted in nature such as, “Would you and your OCD like a few minutes alone to process this?” or even things like “..and will you be coming along tonight, or will we have the added pleasure of your OCD as well?”
In many challenging social situations over the years, I have found that by making light of a thought-provoking scenario, either due to my own belief structure or in an interaction with someone else, it’s a great way to transform the heaviness of emotions such as annoyance or anger. Acknowledging my shadow keeps me true to myself and honest about how I’m really feeling about things, and making light of it helps me shift it a little quicker. How do you embrace your shadow? What do you do to acknowledge the part of you that you’re challenged by?
* Although I make light of obsessive compulsive behaviour, many of my clients have had a much more serious battle with this issue.