I’ve written before about the balance needed between the light and shadow energy of physical existence on this planet and this past week a perfect illustration of how that works came to me via a client. I wanted to share it with you because it so clearly exemplifies the transformation that can occur when we step with mindfulness into the shadow energy and bring all of those deep qualities that society tells us not to have over to the light. When we do this they actually become a vehicle for our transcendence to a point of balance, a place of unity between both light and shadow – ahhh – wonderful!
Animals, of course, and the way, the design of Nature herself, holds these not-really-opposite concepts in perfect balance. To humans and our propensity toward only wanting the light (what’s up with that?!) the ways of our animal relatives sometimes seem too shadowy, too dark to fully embrace. Yet when we change the framework of our own desire for more light we begin to see our true nature reflected in the world around us and perhaps can begin to offer the same compassion we sometimes reserve only for others to ourselves first for the shadow self that is going to always be a part of who we are energetically.
A client called for some insight into a living situation and a potential roommate for which he needed support. The prospective new renter was very open – perhaps too much so my client questioned – about her past history of alcoholism, drug addiction and PTSD – she had served two tours in Iraq. At present she was a psychotherapist on a team of individuals with whom she worked providing support for other veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD. My client’s family were very supportive of this individual because of her present situation yet my client’s friends were not as supportive and thought that my client was not being prudent bringing an individual with such a troubled past into his home.
I thought that the two varying sets of responses to the new potential renter’s life were fascinating and I naturally fell in with the family group and encouraged my client to offer the renter a lease. And here’s why: within the framework of light and shadow a full embrace of BOTH aspects of existence is critical to balance within the duality of each of them which then leads to unification of both – as it is in Nature. One doesn’t seem animals resisting or rejecting their own shadow selves of predator or death – other animal beings on our planet reach into those aspects of themselves, act on them and thus release the energy stored there for innate balance. For the human animal I’m not condoning predatory acts on other humans or species because we have a choice about HOW to release the shadow energy outside of the predator/prey structure. An excellent read on the subject is Robert A. Johnson’s “Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche”.
It was beyond beautiful to me that this woman triumphed over significant obstacles of all kinds (mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) and that she was using these shadow aspects to consciously connect with others in their place of pain to offer support and transformation. It was because of her past, it was because of her own challenges that she was enabled and uniquely qualified to work with those whose shadow selves mirrored her own. What an excellent roommate she would be! Hopefully my client moved ahead and offered her the lease – everyone who works so hard at life needs a warm home at the end of the day. Photo credit: Miyuki Kobayashi.