I chose to begin this year with a four-day Four Seasons retreat, beginning on New Year’s Eve. I began with Spring, the season that requires a rigorous ‘cleaning’. In practice, what that means is really taking a serious look at all the gunk that I’ve allowed to influence how I operate, how I perform who I am and what I do, and making an equally serious effort toward the elimination of those influences that get in the way of my authentic self and work.
When I teach my course on the Four Seasons, we do a somewhat playful version of shadow work (which still manages to be quite intense and serious for those who apply themselves earnestly and sincerely). After watching the recent film, Dark Swan, I like to say that working with one’s shadow is much more like that. It’s not a parlor game or light banter about one’s foibles. It’s tough, deep work that requires the humility and vulnerability to acknowledge that how we have been presenting ourselves is not necessarily forthright and ‘honest’. And it offers the liberating and powerful potential of abandoning the shadow selves we’ve been performing in favor of a less labored expression of our selves. In a very real sense, the self we were living is given the opportunity to die in favor of the birthing of a more nuanced, rich, full portrayal of who we are.
Well, that’s what I started out this year doing, and I must say that it was difficult and incredibly powerful. I found the voice to pray from the depths of my soul for the first time in almost ten years, something that has made me feel off-center for quite a while, affecting my ability to create and express my own work.
This year offers the potential to have me embrace this new awareness and gradually let others share what I have (re)discovered. I will be sharing insights into how this shadow work operates and works for me, and I will reflect on the ways shadow selves running rampant in our world today are wreaking havoc with what we as human beings are capable of doing with our lives. If I can screw up the little things in my life so incredibly powerfully by living as if my shadow must be hidden, what if I were in charge of really major, big things affecting millions, or thousands? It’s around us all the time.
This blog allows me to express my deepest, most personal convictions and journey while I am involved in my professional life with other forms of writing. But at the core, if I’m not aware of my hidden shadows and what is happening to me and what I express as a result of that shadow dance I’m involved in, all of my work is affected, as well as all of my relationships and all my dreams and waking moments.