In order to awaken, we need to recognize and transform that which lies hidden, in what Carl Jung called, "the shadow." Normally, we are blind to these disowned parts within our psyche. Instead, we project them onto others. When we see our shadow in them we react strongly—either by fearing them, judging them or in the case of the "shiny shadow," worshipping what we see. We often labeling them as angry, bossy, selfish or the opposite beautiful, brilliant or gifted.
Below is a 6-Step Process for transforming your shadow into your ally. This practice is inspired by discoveries I made in doing my own shadow work and while working with clients. It was further validated and expanded after I was introduced to the book, Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione. I was delighted to discover that the process I had developed was very similar to an ancient Tibetan Buddhist practice called Chod.
Step 1: Enter Your Sacred Garden and Find the Cave of Transformation
See yourself standing before the gate of your Sacred Garden. Notice the size shape and texture of the gate. Enter your garden now! Notice the path beneath your feet. Allow your senses to become activated. Explore your garden. Notice it the sights, sounds, smells, and textures. What type of garden are you in? Is it formal or wild? Is it vast or small? Does it have a particular theme--such as Japanese, English or a Balinese Temple Garden?
Now direct your attention to finding a cave that is here in your garden. This is the Cave of Transformation. Focus your attention on the path and allow yourself to be guided to where the cave is located. As you enter the cave you will notice that it is lit by a soft glow emitted from the walls and air around you. Explore the cave until you find an area with a pool. Near the pool notice there is a comfortable place to sit down.
Step 2: Finding the Shadow
Sit quietly and take 7 deep belly breaths. Ask, "How has the shadow been showing up in your life recently?" It may take the form of a repeating pattern in your life that you react to with aversion or attraction. Call this shadow-part to you in the Cave. Allow it to take form in front of you. Notice its size, shape, color and texture. Does it feel hot or cold? Does it make a sound? Does it have a smell?
Step 3: Allow the Shadow to Become Personified.
Once the initial form is clear, invite it to become personified, by giving it eyes, a mouth, arms and legs. Let you imagination be free to produce the image. Accept what shows up, even if it seems weird or silly. Don’t let your rational mind censor what is being revealed. This makes it easier for you to communicate with it. Next, you are going to communicate with your shadow to learn about its perspective, how it experiences life.
Ask your shadow these two questions. 1.) What do you need? 2.) How will you feel if you get what you need? In order to discover the answers to these questions you are going to step into the body/form of your shadow. Now, ask the two questions out loud.
Step 4: Become the Shadow and discover what it needs.
You are now going switch places with the shadow and take on its form and perspective. As you step into the shadow feel its shape, size, form and energy. Let the shadow answer the first question aloud, in the first person. What I need is . . .
In this process you want to discover what the shadow needs, not what it wants. Often, the first answer is a want, instead of the deeper need. Giving it only what it wants, addresses the symptoms and not the need. Once it states the need, make sure and clarify that this is what it needs, not just what it wants. Until the underlying need is met, the shadow will continue to operate in the dark.
Now, ask the second question. How will you feel if you get what you need? This is the deeper question that will reveal what this shadow-part needs in order to be transformed. Here is an example- If this shadow-part's issue is control, it might answer: “I will feel like I can trust life fully.” Then you will give this shadow-part trust. By giving it the trust its desires, rather then the control it wants, the shadow is transformed.
Step 5: Transform the Shadow and Meet the Ally
The time has come to transform the shadow. Return to your body. Take a moment to settle back into your own awareness. See the shadow-part in front of you. Notice the Pool of Transformation near by. Walk over to the pool, use your intention and transformed water into the essence of what the shadow told you it would feel when its need was met. The pool can be transformed into whatever quality or emotion is needed such as, truth, love, power or compassion. For example, if it said, “I will feel like I can trust life fully." See the pool as the essence of trust and the shadow-part absorbing it fully.
Invite the shadow-part to enter the Pool of Transformation. See the shadow drinking in what it needs through its mouth or through the pores of its skin, or taking it in some other way. Imagine that there is an infinite supply of this essence, and that the pool's essence is unlimited. While the shadow bathes in the pool, watch it carefully, as it most likely will begin to change. When the shadow-part has taken in everything it needs until it is completely satisfied, it frequently shape-shifts into a new form, it may become something completely new or disappear into mist.
The ally may appear as an animal, human, mythic god or bodhisattva. Always ask, Are you my ally? If it replies, no, then invite another ally to appear. When you see it clearly, take a few minutes to communicate with your ally. Discover what gifts it has for you. How you connect with it in the future? Finally, ask it to become one with you and merge together.
Step 6: Return Home
When the ally has been integrated, dissolve into spacious Awareness, which may feel like emptiness, freedom or being whole, even if this experience lasts only briefly, it is a returning home to the Self. Offer gratitude and leave the cave. Make your way back through the garden to the Gate. Step through it, back into this room, this moment. When you are ready open your eyes.
By reclaiming our shadow, we not only find more love and compassion for others, we tap into vast new resources within ourselves. These resources can enrich our lives and relationships. I hope you found this practice helpful.
Crystal Dawn Morris Contact: Cell 928-862-0762 or firstname.lastname@example.org www.TantraforAwakening.com
Crystal Dawn Morris © 2011-2014